How Valais put the charm in Chasselas

It took a while before I “got” Chasselas – it was a short trip to Valias this October that sealed the deal… I wrote about the experience for US online wine magazine Palate Press: When Michel Chapoutier mentioned in 2011 that he was considering planting a Chasselas vineyard in the UK, some may have thought […]

The trials of being organic

Here’s my latest column for US online wine magazine Palate Press  – focusing mostly on organic producers in Graves. Last week, the New Zealand Organic Focus Project gave a public presentation on three medium to large NZ wineries who participated in a side-by-side organic versus conventional agriculture trial. The aim was to demonstrate the relative ease […]

Blank de Blanc

I visited Graves & Pessac-Léognan during harvest this year, and was really struck by the relative (for Bordeaux) good value that some wines represent – and by how invisible the white wines are in the UK – a great shame. My piece for Tim Atkin’s site goes into more detail: Browsing the wine selection at Bordeaux […]

Calmel & Joseph – classy wines from Languedoc Roussillon

The Languedoc-Roussillon still has a bit of a name for being cheap – it’s France’s most important wine region in terms of quantity, with an extraordinary 299,000 hectares under vine (that’s three times the size of Bordeaux, also not exactly small), but you have to hunt for the quality. There are increasing numbers of overperforming […]

Wine is more than just a product

I’m quite proud of this short hymn to artisan wine producers, written for Palate Press after returning from holidays in Slovenia and a wine conference in Switzerland – even if I realised later that “commodity” would be a better word to use than “product”. Wine has a vast cultural history and diversity, and in many wine producing countries […]

Wine out of context – tasting blind at DWCC 2014

Many of us have had this experience – while holidaying in a hot sunny paradise, you taste a fantastic wine (let’s say it’s a rosé) and decide to fill up the suitcase. Uncorking the same wine back at home, it’s utterly disappointing – thin and acidic, instead of the fruit-filled, lip-smacking gem you remembered. This is context – or […]

Load of old bull – does biodynamics need to explain itself?

“When I taste this wine, I imagine I’m walking up the dry river bed next to the Tatou vineyard, just after the rain. The smell of the wet stones is utterly distinctive.” This is the way that Colin Ross, vineyard manager at Seresin, likes to describe wine – no fruit descriptors, no talk of tannins, structure or pH. During a […]

Bacchus makes hay while the sun shines

How about this? A boutique festival set in beautiful woodlands, a sunny day, bands, DJs… and a massive choice of top quality wines served in a real wine glass. It almost sounds too good to be true – but this was what Amsterdam’s first Bacchus Wijnfestival offered for three days between 5-7th September. So bos I […]

Istria’s best wines – a brief round up

Decanter magazine’s September 2014 issue features my regional profile of Istria, arguably Croatia’s finest wine region – an area deserving a lot more attention than it currently gets. The wines and producers recommended in that article were necessarily constrained by what was available on the UK retail market at the time of writing. Here’s a more […]

Learning to love Welschriesling, the Hungarian way

There are some things in life that cause me to come over all opinionated. Battery chicken farming and Montsanto spring to mind. Add to that climate change deniers …  and Welschriesling. Maybe I just need to get out more. Be that as it may, I don’t claim that Welschriesling is evil, just terrifically dull – Especially compared to its […]