Orange weekly: La Castellada – Ribolla Gialla 2009

This 2009 Ribolla Gialla shows absolute mastery of Oslavia’s cherished variety and the extended skin maceration technique which is increasingly associated with this village.

Brothers Niccolò & Giorgio Bensa started bottling wine at this estate in Oslavia, Friuli Collio in 1985 – their reputation has built impressively ever since. Niccolò’s sons Stefano and Matteo are now involved too. The Bensas were part of the “Gravner group” during the late 1990s, which was so pivotal in reintroducing the traditional methods of extended skin contact and wild yeast ferments.

12 years of Xinomavro

SUMMER 2003, CRETE. I’m staying in a self-catering apartment hidden away on one of Chania’s many labyrinthine alleys.  Almost right opposite is a local shop where I stock up on pasta, vegetables and olive oil. The owner is super friendly and doesn’t speak a word of English. On my first visit he points to a giant […]

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 […]

Celebrating intoxification at Domaine Canet-Valette

“Did God set grapes a-growing, do you think, And at the same time make it sin to drink? Give thanks to Him who foreordained it thus– Surely He loves to hear the glasses clink!” Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, 91st quatrain, translated by Richard Le Gallienne Alcohol has become one of society’s demons. It may be […]

Austria’s Weinviertel: Districtus Austriae Confusius?

Ask most Austrian winemakers about their country’s “Appellation Controlée”-like DAC regulations and you’ll be lucky if you get so much as a luke-warm response. Few are comfortable with the fragmentation, label confusion and lack of consumer recognition that the nine regional DACs have as their current legacy. Austrian wine marketing board head honcho Willi Klinger […]

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 […]

Oh Balls! (Or how customer service saved the day)

Picture the scene – four old friends, and we’ve just passed a convivial evening in a restaurant. It’s Thursday night, 9.30pm, no-one’s ready to go home but at the same time a change of scenery is called for. Oh yes, and we’d like good wine please. The trouble is, we’re in Victoria. A quick look on […]

Modernist traditions of Istria

Most people will have a view about the classic “old world” wine producing nations – France, well it’s expensive, the name of the grape isn’t on the bottle, they’re still the greatest wines in the world, and so forth. Spain – they use a lot of oak, it’s all about Rioja, er..  and they make […]

Julie’s Jurassic Jaunt (or “how to buy wine for 40 people”)

So, I have a friend, we’ll call her Julie. Julie says to me, please can you buy the wine for my upcoming 40th birthday celebration – a weekend house party on the Jurassic coast (near Lyme Regis), with 40 guests (including the Morning Claret, off duty of course). I ask for guidance, and luckily it’s […]