Muscat Ottonel, a love story

Sometimes the path of true love really does alter everything. When Austrian Martin Lichtenberger and Spaniard Adrianna Gonzalez met in 2007, during their winemaking studies in California, they might not have predicted that they’d soon be making wine together on another continent. Not to mention a skin contact Muscat Ottonel (an orange wine).

The dreaded Palomino – Daterra Viticultores

Tasting at a busy wine fair is hard. Where to go, what to taste? Did I miss something mindblowing amidst the crowds? A tall, rather statuesque lady with impressive dreadlocks grabs my attention. I offer my best/only Portuguese “Posso provar os vinhos brancos?”, she retaliates with a stream of Spanish. I catch the word “Galicia” and little else. The owner of the dreads is Laura Lorenzo, Daterra Viticultores, Galicia.

Barking at the moon: Movia – Lunar 2008

Aleš Kristančič is a man whose reputation precedes him. Movia, the family’s estate in Western Slovenia since 1820, has become one of the most well-known producers from the region, and also a trailblazer for the skin contact style.

Tbilvino’s Qvevris Rkatsiteli – big isn’t necessarily bad

Tbilvino is based in western Georgia’s Kakheti – the country’s most important wine region. A product of the modern age, Tbilvino was conceived in a post-communist world – their first commercial vintage was 1999. They’re pretty successful, producing around 3 million bottles a year, most of which are sold to Russia, other ex-soviet countries and China – well established markets for Georgian wine.

Since 2010, Tbilvino markets a small range of wines made in qvevri – currently a Rkatsiteli and a Saperavi, with a Kisi just about to be released. The “Qvevris” Rkatsiteli has made it onto the shelves of Marks and Spencer at the bargain price of £10, in an M&S branded guise.

Six years later…

A nice bit of symmetry today. Very few will remember how this site (which I’ve now christened “World’s Least Influential Wine Blog”) began – it all started in late 2010 when Fine & Rare wines announced a competition to submit a tasting note about a Bordeaux wine. The prize was the chance to travel with the […]

Making orange wine in the Douro Valley – Part 1

It started with a seemingly innocent question from Oscar Quevedo: “Simon, do you know how to make an orange wine?”. Oscar isn’t stupid of course, he knew damn well I’d have something to say on the subject. We were sat in the tasting room at Quevedo, a port and still wine producer in the Cima Corgo […]

Tasting orange wines with Hugh Johnson

I’m not sure that I have heroes anymore – and those I once had were certainly not wine writers. That said, if I did, and if they were, Hugh Johnson OBE would be a candidate. Several of his books are on my shelf, and his writings have accompanied my entire journey into wine over the last 25 […]

The unknown Austria – Part 2

For the introduction to this tasting, please see Part 1. Orange Interlude Austria shares borders with Northern Italy and Slovenia – both parts of the world with a long tradition of using extended skin maceration in white wine. So it’s no surprise that Austrian winemakers have taken to this style enthusiastically, with some now well […]

The unknown Austria – Part 1

A year living in the small Austrian town of Eisenstadt developed my considerable love not just for one of its natives, but also for the restrained and elegant wines. The issue? Availability of many of the greatest wines is pretty sparse, or even non-existent outside Austria itself. Inevitably, if a restaurant in London or Amsterdam lists […]

“Orange wines are a sideshow and a waste of time”

“What’s the point of experimenting? We know how to make really good wine. Why do we want to throw away the formula and do something different?” Hugh Johnson, interviewed in the Washington Post, October 2016. Recently I’ve been wondering whether the whole arena of natural wines was becoming so mainstream, tolerated and understood that maybe there […]