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 […]

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 […]

Amphoras ahoy in Tuscany – Fattoria di Sammontana

Tuscany, and more specifically Chianti isn’t somewhere I associate with diversity. This isn’t the wine region to pick if you want the thrill of discovering unheard of grape varieties, finding weird and wonderful orange wines or small, wacky estates. What Chianti does have is an unshakeable position in the annals of fine wine, even if the region […]

Permaculture in Slovenia: Visiting Miha and Ivan Batic

There’s an almost reactionary view that winemakers who practice organic or biodynamic viticulture end up having to be more, rather than less interventionist in the vineyard. The theory goes that instead of a single (noxious) spraying to knock out mildew/pests/anything else living, the organic or biodynamic vigneron will have to tramp through their vineyard countless […]

Feminine Faugères

I’m a big fan of Faugères – and if asked to describe the character of the wines from this small but over-achieving Languedoc appelation, I’d probably use words like “muscular”, “spicy” and “intense” – but also “elegant” and “structured”. However, tasting Brigitte Chevalier’s Domaine de Cébène cuvées had me frantically recalibrating. Brigitte’s terroir is at the North-Eastern […]

Fulvio Bressan – Taking the long-term view

Winemaking has developed significantly in the last few decades. Winemakers now routinely draw on a vast canon of research, learning and technology to help ensure that they produce consistent wines and harvest fruit in prime condition, year in, year out. Vintage variation, of the sort that wrote off most early 90’s Bordeaux, is almost a […]