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: Renčel – Cuvee 2001

I employ a crude rating system when I’m jotting down tasting notes in the field. A wine gets either no stars (anything from terrible to quite good), one star (very good/excellent), or very rarely two stars (outstanding). 2015’s first two star wine was Josko Renčel’s stunning white blend, simply called “cuvée”.

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 […]

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 […]

Seeing the world through orange-tinted glasses – Radikon & Paraschos

Orange wines have been on my mind lately, having spent the last few weeks writing an article for Decanter. Needing inspiration, I pulled the cork on two rather fine examples of the genre. They were so good, they deserve some blog love here… Radikon Oslavje First up was Radikon’s Oslavje 2003 – a blend of Chardonnay, […]

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 […]

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 […]