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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 27 MARCH 2016 34 Food A staple red under the legendary Marchesi de' Frescobaldi empire, this harmonious red from Tuscany, Italy's famous red wine region, epitomizes the greatness of Italy's most prized grape variety sangiovese in a prime vintage like 2010; as James wrote, "It's an outstanding example of the extraordinary 2010 vintage for Brunello di Montalcino, showing wonderful balance, refinement and structure as well as freshness." Yet the wine is still largely available in the market for around euro 35 a bottle, a perfect marriage of quality and value. James Suckling's the Wine of the Year for 2015! "Aromas of warm stones, dark fruits and walnuts follow to a full body, soft tannins and a savory finish. This shows ripe fruit and salty undertones that give it a wonderful juiciness. It's dense and tight now but will give so much pleasure in the future. Best ever from here. Drink or hold." Exclusively imported by Charles Grech & Co. Ltd, Valley Road, Birkirkara T: 2144 4400 2010 Brunello di Montalcino 'Castelgiocondo' Frescobaldi, Tuscany – Italy 97 points – James Suckling Rachel Agius takes a look at a restaurant and brings a recipe, wine and delicacy of the week. Write to us with your comments on restaurants or submit your own recipes to CHOOSING where to sit down for a drink has become a daunting task. Bars and cafes have sprung up like daisies after a spring rain and deciding on one of them can really put a damper on any evening. To those who are familiar with the wine bar scene, we have good news. In the heart of Lija, surrounded by stately villas, narrow little roads and a small-town atmosphere, an old favourite has been brought back to life. Tal-Villagg has opened its doors once again, this time helmed by Johann Martin and his wife Lucienne, who took the place on as a way to simplify things. You may remember Johann – he's the guy who helped make Sciacca, in Valletta, the be- loved institution it is today. So why take on this little wine bar in the heart of the island? It's something of a change of pace from his previous job. "I was looking for a new challenge," he explains. He initially had no intention of taking on a project like this one but when the place came up for sale, he knew he had to have it. Describing Tal-Villagg as anything other than 'tiny' would be misleading. It will com- fortably seat about ten people, 18 standing. This intimate venue also encourages patron- age by a certain type of customer – this is not the place for rowdy youngsters and Johann is quick to tell customers that making a racket is not an option. So what does this little refuge offer? A fully stocked bar, including a variety of whiskies and wines, should keep even the most dis- cerning drinker happy. There are also plans to expand the range of wines to include high- end vintages by the glass. The menu changes daily and consists of a platter, dips and one other hot option – the goal here isn't mass produced fare but care- fully chosen artisanal products from all over the Mediterranean. This allows Johann to change up the ingredients often for an expe- rience that will make return customers happy every time. A selection of desserts is also available. So what's next? Tal-Villagg has already hosted a Valentine's Day themed event, of- fering customers a degustation menu and a unique setting on the most romantic night of the year. Similar events are in the pipeline. The venue can be booked for small private functions and has the advantage of making it easy to mingle with your fellow guests in a one-of-a-kind environment. It was with a sigh of sadness that the lo- cals (and not so locals) watched Tal-Villagg close its doors, about two years ago. Luckily for them, a real expert has stepped in to wel- come them back into this sleepy little town for some good food and a relaxed spot for a drink. The next time you're looking for some- where to go, consider your decision made. Tal-Villagg, 77, Triq il-Forn, Lija. Tel: 9940 4487 Facebook: talvillagglounge Resto of the week WINE OF THE WEEK Lija's favourite local gets a touch of expertise Tal-Villagg has always been a popular haunt for Lija locals – as well as not-so-locals, and after two years, it has finally re-opened its doors. Johann Martin is taking his expertise in wines and artisanal food to breathe new life into this tiny, little bar PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAY ATTARD

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