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 […]

When slurping isn’t natural

I looked at the bottle three times, picked it up, took a photo on my phone. Something didn’t feel quite right. “This is simply a fabulous French no-nonsense natural wine…” screamed the label. And then further down, there it was again: “This wine is 100% natural as well as gorgeous to drink”. At €4.99 in […]

Out with the alt, in with the nieuw

A few days before the end of 2013, I said goodbye to Eisenstadt, the tiny Austrian town that has been my home for most of the year. New adventures in Amsterdam are calling – but this blog isn’t supposed to be autobiographical, so let’s get back to the wine. Eisenstadt may be small, but it’s […]

Seafood Grillo, Barraco style

It’s a gorgeous late summer evening on Sicily’s west coast. But instead of admiring the sea, our group of wine writers and bloggers are looking slightly perplexedly at what appears to be a patch of weeds. Actually this is Antonino “Nino” Barraco‘s prized hectare of coastal Grillo, practically growing on the beach and preciously handed […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]