Orange weekly: Andreas Tscheppe – Hirschkäfer Erdfass 2006

The production methods for Tscheppe’s Erdfass (“earth barrel”), also known as Hirschkäfer (Stag beetle), seem bizarre at first glance. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnary ferments on the skins for two weeks, and is then transferred into a 600 litre oak barrel which is buried in the ground over the winter months. After the winter, the barrel is dug up, the wine continues to mature and is then bottled after 24 months.

Orange weekly: La Stoppa – Ageno 2010

This wine is one of relatively few standard bearers for the extended skin contact revival that’s not from Collio or Slovenian Brda. La Stoppa are based in Emilia Romagna, home to a rich, meaty cuisine and of course Lambrusco. Elena Pantaleoni makes this blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatic, Ortugo and Trebbiano in honour of the estate’s founder Giancarlo Ageno.

Orange weekly: Albert Mathier et Fils – Amphore Assemblage Blanc 2010

Valais, Switzerland isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a Georgian qvevri, but Amédée Mathier has no less than 20 of them. Since 2008, his estate Albert Mathier et Fils (he’s the extant “Fils”) has been making two amphora, or rather qvevri matured wines, one white and one red. Sorry, I mean one orange and one red!

Sweet and sour – A vertical of Chatzivaritis Goumenissa

When I was invited to taste a vertical of wines from Goumenissa, I wasn’t initially sure if that was the wine region, producer or grape variety. Goumenissa turns out to be a tiny but highly rated appellation in Macedonia (Northern Greece), not too far from its bigger brother Naoussa. Chatzivaritis Estate is one of five quality-minded […]

Orange weekly: Guerila – Rebula 2010

Guerila’s Rebula 2010 is restrained and pure on the nose, with attractive honeyed notes.

Rebula is the Slovenian alias for Friuli Collio’s Ribolla Gialla, and there’s no mistaking the characteristic chewiness which is this variety’s calling card. At least if you leave it on the skins for 14 days, as here. If that sounds scary, it’s not at all – the structure of this wine is accessible and refined.

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]