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Katla Wines – Tasting Event

Bringing Mosel and Rheinhessen to Clitheroe, we’re hosting a Katla wine tasting at Corto on Thursday 26th May, from 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

Katla is a winery unlike any you’ve ever come across. The baby and creation of Jas Swan, a 28 year old winemaker from Germany, each wine is an expression of creativity, purpose and energy — rather than simply the land from which it came.

Get your tickets!

Jas’ wines can be frivolously fun or seriously contemplative, depending on her mood and the direction her grapes tell her to move in. Previously based at the legendary Staffelter Hof winery in Mosel, she has recently relocated to Rheinhessen where her forthcoming vintages will all be made.

Each Katla wine is natural and unfined, unfiltered and with very little (if no) sulphur added. The result is bright, surprising wines with freshness, balanced acidity and impressive clarity and poise. 

Jas is extremely passionate about the environment, and as well as foraging in her local region for additional ingredients for meals (and occasionally for ciders and other drinks she makes on the side for fun) she advocates for better practices within the wine industry as a whole. This advocacy is intersectional — for Katla wines, there can be no ecologically responsible wine without also producing that same wine ethically from vineyard to glass, industry to drinker. This includes promoting a wine world that’s free of prejudice and welcoming to all.

The Wines

At this tasting, you will taste:

  • Katla — Kiki
  • Katla — Queendom
  • Katla — Cucu
  • Katla — Sóley
  • Katla — Helja

As well as tasting these wines, we’ll have notes from Jas and you’ll be able to buy bottles at a special take-out price.

Bring an open mind and prepare to fall in love with German wine that’s got its sights firmly set on a more inclusive future! Don’t miss out, get your tickets now.

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PRE-ORDER Marie Courtin -Efflorescence 2015 Champagne (A note from Katie)

Get yourself a special bottle of grower champagne to celebrate a Christmas where we’ll all be together again.

Last festive season Tom bought me a magnum of Efflorescence, with the promise that when we opened it, we’d be surrounded by people we love again.

Needless to say, Efflorescence by Marie Courtin, the champagne house mastered by Dominique Moreau in Polisot, Cotes des Bar, means a lot to the both of us.

But enough mushy stuff. What does it taste like? Smell like? Feel like?

Efflorescence in chemistry terms, is the name for a layer of salt and minerals — so as you might expect, this cuvée displays beautiful glimmering textures of minerality brought up from the limestone-clay soil; the same soil found in Chablis and Sancerre.

If you prefer your champagne to be packed with leesy brioche richness, this might be a turning point bottle for you. 100% Pinot Noir and aged in ex-Chablis oak barrels and with no added dosage, it’s got a lemony brightness and raspberry fizz. It’s extra-brut. It’s spritzy, playful and perfect with festive canapés like blinis with smoked trout.

Dominique Moreau prefers to use the name Efflorescence for a more romantic meaning, however. To the house of Marie Courtin, Efflorescence is a word that encompasses constant and gradual evolution, shifting and changing with time.

This champagne will age fantastically well. As Moreau says, the grapes used for this cuvée have “great power”, and this fuller body and tart burst-berry-like acidity will enjoy time to itself for the next 15-20 years.

If you can wait that long.

We say: pop that bottle.

Marie Courtin – Efflorescence 2015 is £60 per bottle from Corto on pre-order ONLY.

PRE-ORDERS ARE BEING TAKEN UNTIL MONDAY 20th DECEMBER

PLEASE MAKE AND PAY FOR YOUR ORDERS AT THE BAR, OR EMAIL US IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT IN: hello@cortobar.co.uk

We will not be posting orders. Collection only.

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Perfect Pairings for your Christmas Dinner

Sit a-while and listen to our tales of drinks pairing perfection, and learn how you too could eat and drink your way to merriment this Christmas.

Festive meals can be a bit stressful to plan. Cooking for a large group of folk when you’re not used to doing it seems like a big task, and after you add in all the special side dishes and deserts, cheese boards and post-dinner boardgame snacks, it’s beginning to look a lot like a nightmare. The last thing you want is to have to think about what drinks to pair with what on top of all that.

Or, maybe you’re a grateful guest, looking for the ideal selection of booze to bring with you. 

“Just bring something to drink!” you were told. But what??

Relax. It’s not that deep. Let us do the choosing for you, so that all you have to do is memorise a few deets from below and pour with confidence. An instant home sommelier and general all-round Christmas winner.

The Door-Opener, Festive-Greeter and Merriment-Beginner

Nothing feels better than opening the door with a glass of something fizzy and fancy for your newly-arriving guests. It’s about the only time we feel anything close to how we imagine it feels to be Nigella Lawson.

If you’re looking for something a little different (and a little more budget-friendly) then I heartily recommend choosing Little Pomona — First Waltz.

Yes, it’s a cider, but we promise you’ve never tried a cider like this one before. It’s a wild-fermented pét-nat (naturally fizzy, basically) cider, made with Ellis Bitter, Dabinett, cryo-conditioned Egremont Russet apples and perry pears and aged in bourbon barrels, giving it a beautiful aromatic lightness and peachy complexity. It is a joy. Serve in champagne flutes cool, but not too cold.

Starters: Here We Go

If you’re not having smoked salmon or prawn cocktail or a delicious veggie option made with asparagus — what on earth are you having? It is the law to be eating one of the above as your starter for Christmas dinner, and to put your paper cracker hat on before you eat it. 

With seafood or a light vegetable starter, we’d normally recommend a dry white wine to lift and brighten like a squeeze of lemon juice, and to cut through any lingering creaminess in your chosen sauces (be they hollandaise, marie rose or mayo — no judgements). 

We all agree that Mikaël Bouges — French Clara is Corto’s white wine of the year. A fresh, natural, minerally Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, it’s got a super-delightful aroma of bright berries; raspberries, maybe? Cranberries? Could be.

The Main Event

Whether you’re having turkey or goose, nut roast or wild mushroom wellington, beef, pork or salt-baked cod, we’re gonna be honest — it’s impossible to really pair a drink perfectly with a meal that has so many different elements.

What we suggest is choosing a star flavour from your meal and picking a drink to suit it.

Pair the best bits of Christmas dinner (roast potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce) with Judith Beck – Ink, an Austrian red with surprising subtle acidity and spicy tannins. It’s light body means it goes down easy, and won’t lay heavily on white meat, poultry and veg.

Are you having pudding? We’ll have pudding if you’re having pudding.

Everybody say “Ooh!” because the Christmas pud is being carried to the table, alight, regal, majestic.

We’d choose De Dolle Brouwerij — Stille Nacht for its festive spice and moreish sweetness to pair here. Belgian beer is often a perfect match for food, and Stille Nacht, while on the sweet side, has enough prickly, estery spice to sharpen it up.

Cheese, biscuits, Quality Street, Scrabble

Honestly you need some barleywine in that glass you’ve got there. Pass it over.

Rivington — Barley Wine 2021 is a beautiful accompaniment to an evening of snacks, cheese, sofa naps and board games. Forget Port (sorry Port.)

This is the very same barley wine as we’ve been enjoying pouring on tap the past week or so, presented in a beaut 750ml wax-dipped bottle, and we wholeheartledly love it.

Buy the Pack

Grab everything on this list in a super-convenient pack!

1 x Little Pomona — First Waltz
1 x Mikaël Bouges — French Clara
1 x Judith Beck — Ink
1 x De Dolle Brouwerij — Stille Nacht
1 x Rivington — Barley Wine 2021

All for £66 — a £16 saving on our regular take-out prices. WOW.

Something Special

If you’re looking for something really special to celebrate with around the table, we are taking pre-orders for Marie Courtin — Efflorescence, a truly special biodynamic champagne.

Naturally grown, made with as little intervention as possible, no sulphites added. A gorgeous representation of what natural champagne can really be.  It is £60 per bottle, and we think it’s worth every penny. Let us know if you want some and we’ll get it ordered for you.

Serve with oysters, smoked salmon blinis or in the bath.

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Corto’s First Natural Wine Tasting Event!

We’re hosting our first natural wine tasting event!

On Thursday 12 August 2021 from 7pm until around 9.30pm (no rush), Katie will take you through five of our latest bottles from around Europe that have sparked our imagination and made us close our eyes and go “woah”.

You’ll learn about the winemakers behind the wines and find out why they do what they do in the way that they do it. Of course, you’ll get to taste the five wines and learn about why they taste the way that they do. And there’ll be paired snacks too! (Vegan options available)

If you’ve never been to a wine tasting before and don’t know what to expect, here are some tips:

  • Sniff the wine
  • Sip the wine
  • Chat about the wine
  • Have a blast

This is the first of, we hope, many wine tasting events at Corto where we can make wine less intimidating and more fun. We might even play some games.

Get your tickets to our FIRST EVER WINE TASTING EVENT here via Eventbrite: https://corto_firstwinetasting.eventbrite.co.uk 

A bit more on Natural Wine

Natural wine is one of our favourite things.

It’s wine that’s been made with as little intervention as the winemaker sees fit — at the very least it’ll be grown without pesticides, although often you won’t find organic hallmarks on the bottles we sell. It’s an expensive cost winemakers prefer to avoid, using organic practices because they prefer to, not to tick a box.

As much as we love the eco aspects of natural wine, there’s another side to it that’s just as compelling. 

The wild way these wines express themselves is something, we believe, is hard to recreate using conventional methods. The experimentation, innovation and creativity of natural winemakers is something, we think, is worth celebrating. They are using ancient methods to care for their vines and make their wines, in a modern setting where low intervention techniques and a mind towards the environment has never been more important.

So that’s why we love natural wine. We hope after you taste some of our latest bottles, you will too!

Buy your ticket to our first ever wine tasting here

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Natural Wine — What is it? And why do we love it so much?

If you’ve ever popped into our little temporary bottle shop (two weeks until it turn into a bar!) or you had a look on our webshop when it was online during the Delivery Days, you’ll have noticed our natural wine selection.

Spanning France, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, we’ve had natural wines from all over the world on our shelves, from regions that you might never have heard of or drank wine from before. We love that. Finding unusual and amazing wine unexpectedly is a total joy and we will NEVER get bored of it.

But what exactly is natural wine? And why do we love it? Let’s have a bit of a chat about it.

Natural Wine is made with “low intervention”

When we say “low intervention” or even “low intervention wine”, what we mean is wine that’s been made with as little extra fuss and faff as possible.

Natural wine isn’t an official term (although some certifications are available… we’ll maybe talk about that another time) and it’s mainly used as a way to single out wines made a certain way.

Natural wine is essentially the way wine used to be made in the olden days: grow some grapes, squish them, let the juice ferment with it’s own natural yeasts, maybe filter it, store it, bottle it (maybe with a dash of sulphur, maybe not), drink it.

Some winemakers like to go a bit further and use Biodynamic processes to make their wine in connection to the land and things like the moon’s phases. We’ll write about that another time!

What’s “conventional wine”?

Wine you might find in the supermarket can still taste great, but it’s normally what you call “conventional” wine, meaning that it’s not made in a low intervention way. In fact, it can be made with a whole ton of intervention, from using reconstituted concentrated juice, to having additives added in to improve flavour, colour and texture. And that’s not even mentioning additional sugar, preservatives, co2 or the unnatural pesticides and fertilizers used on the grapes as they grow.

We aren’t against conventional wine. In fact we sell some, sometimes. We choose our wine based on how it tastes and how much we can appreciate the care and attention to detail the winemaker has given their wines from vineyard to table. 

What we often say is that we choose mostly natural wine because this way of making wine can prove that the winemaker has thought about every aspect of the winemaking process, and is making the best possible wine from the raw materials at hand — and that’s what really excites us about wine anyway.

Natural wine at Corto

When Corto opens as a bar on Friday 4th June 2021, we’ll be serving natural wine alongside a huge range of natural cider and craft beer. To us, each of these tasty things is just as important as each other.

Natural wine can be a little more expensive compared to mass-produced wine, and so we’ll be selling a range of different wines by the glass (BTG) every week to give you the chance to try them. Making delicious things accessible is something we’re really keen on at Corto and often a whole bottle of something unfamiliar can seem offputting. 

Come in for a glass and see what you think — wine shots will be available too if you can’t make your mind up!

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Bandarra Vermouth – It’s Red and Delicious and You Need It

Are you a vermouth person? We love it. Nigella loves it too, and honestly, whatever Nigella says should be law. 

Red vermouth, or “rosso”, has this wonderful warming character that’s ideal for early spring, when it’s sunny but there’s a bite of winter chill lingering in the air. If you’re not familiar with the drink, you might expect it to be syrupy like port, or even hot with alcohol like eau de vie, and while it’s around the 15% ABV mark, red vermouth has a mouthfeel much more like a smooth-drinking sherry or rum. Sweet, but not over-sweet, and bitter too, gently bouncing with aromatics.

We’ve got some in stock now, and we wanted to talk about it a bit more because we don’t think it gets enough love!

What is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine first made in Italy but now popular in France and in Spain, where it’s especially loved in Madrid and Barcelona. 

Red vermouth, known sometimes as “Italian vermouth” is an absolutely vital ingredient in some of your favourite cocktails like the Manhattan and the Negroni, and every Martini has dry white vermouth – the “French” style — in it whether stirred or given a good old shake.

Traditionally vermouth is made with upwards of 50 aromatic botanicals, including cinnamon, clove, bitter orange, liquorice, rosemary, chamomile, bay leaf, hops and ginger, and some even have wormwood in!

Over the years, and especially recently, makers have taken what they love about vermouth and tweaked it in their own directions, losing flavours they don’t care for and adding aromatics that better represent their locality or pair better with their cuisine. It’s really cool to see these adaptations being made, bringing modernity and global palates to a drink that’s often seen as old-fashioned, or just simply unfashionable.

Spanish Vermouth? Isn’t it Italian?

We’re currently stocking red vermouth, because that’s what Katie drank last time she was in Barcelona. Even though it’s historically Italian, she can’t separate that deliciously bittersweet aperitif from memories of the Gothic Quarter, pulling an olive from a cocktail stick, and snacking on plates of croquetas.

So then, we’re selling an amazingly nostalgic vermouth by Barcelona-based Bandarra Vermut.

Nostalgic how? 

Bandarra Vermut Red is a vermouth that emulates vermouth from mid-century Barcelona, looking away from contemporary takes on the drink and back to a time when sweet vermouth wasn’t cool or uncool — it was just enjoyed everywhere by everyone.

We like that vibe. A lot.

How To Drink Vermouth

We’d never want to tell anyone how to drink anything, however if you’ve never tried vermouth before, it might help to have a few serving suggestions.

On Ice, With A Slice

Grab your favourite lowball glass — go on, get the crystal out — and chuck a couple of chunky ice cubes in there. Add a twist of orange peel, or a whole slice, or a lemon slice if you prefer. Throw a couple of olives in there too. Enjoy.

Vermouth Spritz

Bye bye Apérol spritz (not really, we love you), hello vermouth spritz. Just pop equal parts vermouth and soda water into a highball or wine glass with ice cubes in it, and chuck an orange wedge in there. Eat some olives while you drink it. Delicious.

Negroni

Come on now, who doesn’t love a negroni? Last year we read they were both very cool, and very sad at the same time. Luckily, we don’t care. Pour equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth into a jug, with ice. Stir and stir and stir until the jug feels cold. Strain into a glass, add a fresh ice cube, and garnish with a slice of orange — blood orange if ya fancy. Invite us round to help you finish off the jug.

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Cosy Boxes! Take Corto Home and have a Cosy Night In

Like every hospitality business in the country, we’ve been pulling the most interesting faces trying to figure out how best to get our delicious drinks to you this week.

We’ve made a few changes to how the shop looks, and we’ve also made a few additional changes to make it a bit easier for you to pick some ideal things to drink for your Big Cosy Weekends In.

We might be back in lockdown, but we can’t let that beat us. We’ve had a bit of a yell and a bit of a strop, and now we’re ready to get back to spreading positivity. LET’S DO THIS!

Continue reading Cosy Boxes! Take Corto Home and have a Cosy Night In
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We’re Still Open! Get the beers (and ciders and wines) in for New Year’s Eve!

So it’s not the NYE we’d hoped for. But one thing’s certain, and it’s a really good thing: 2020 IS ALMOST OVER.

Let’s ring this year out good and proper. Make sure it never comes back again. SEE YOU NEVER, WORST YEAR EVER!

Continue reading We’re Still Open! Get the beers (and ciders and wines) in for New Year’s Eve!