From the Bath Farmers Market: When in Rome Wines

Photo credit: When In Rome Wines
I absolutely love the Bath Farmers Market – it’s got serious heritage, since it was the UK’s first modern-day farmers market and is currently in its twentieth year. Every Saturday, the fabulous space at the old Green Park Station is filled to bursting with a glorious cornucopia of delicious things from all sorts of different companies, from the tiny to the medium-sized – but all local, independent and committed to producing top quality food and drink. A couple of weeks ago, I strolled down in the rain for a wander around (Bath Farmers Market is all under cover in the old station, so it’s a haven on a rainy Saturday) and made a great new discovery in the form of When in Rome Wines.

At When in Rome, they’re all about championing some of Italy’s smallest vineyards, where the same families have been farming the same land for generations, treading lightly on the environment and pouring their passion and expertise into every drop of wine they produce. I absolutely loved the sound of this, so it didn’t take long for owner Rob to convince me to review some of his wine here on Sal’s Kitchen. Although they do sell some of their wine in reusable bottles (you can take your empties back for a refill and get a discount), what When in Rome is really about is the oft-maligned box wine.

I’m not quite sure why, but somehow boxed wine has a much less classy vibe than the traditional bottle, and tends to get associated with cheaper wine. Perhaps it’s just the age-old idea that quantity negates quality? After a chat with Rob, though, I’m totally converted – for him, it’s all about making it easier for these small vineyards to export and sell their wine. Boxing instead of bottling it is much cheaper and more accessible for small businesses, not to mention better for the environment (it’s lighter to transport, lowering emissions, and recycling the cardboard boxes is much less energy-intensive than recycling glass).

Although it was only half past ten in the morning, Rob’s enthusiasm was totally infectious and I was easily persuaded to taste all the wines. I’m normally a red-wine drinker, so I really loved the Nero D’Avola, a Sicilian wine with a big, fruity flavour. However, I must confess my heart was completely stolen by a Sauvignon Blanc made by the Martincigh family on the Grappolo d’Oro farm, where people have been making wine since Roman times. I usually find white wine tends to taste less interesting than red, but this one definitely proved me wrong, with a lovely warm, deep flavour. On the tasting notes for this Sauvignon Blanc, yellow peppers are mentioned, and I think this is possibly the best way of describing the flavour – bright and juicy.

I was properly impressed by When in Rome, and pretty inspired too – there’s something about the romance of these wines, their history and heritage, and their provenance in tiny family-run vineyards that really catches the imagination. Highly recommended. 

To visit the When in Rome website, where you can order their wines online, click here.