A wave of Georgian qvevri wine in Amsterdam

I’m a huge fan of Georgian qvevri wines – that’s to say, wines made in the 8,000 year old traditional manner, where grapes, skins and sometimes stems are piled into a 500 – 2,000 litre clay amphora-like vessel, buried up to its neck in the ground.

The challenge has always been how to get hold of them. A tiny amount is imported into the UK, even less to the Netherlands where I currently reside. And what little there is often ends up languishing on restaurant lists, as it’s mostly too pricey to be easily sold in shops.
But times are changing, awareness of the wines seems to be increasing (admitedly from a very low base), and one adventurous Dutch wine merchant “Andere Wijn” has hugely expanded their Georgian range.

Tasting orange wines with Hugh Johnson

I’m not sure that I have heroes anymore – and those I once had were certainly not wine writers. That said, if I did, and if they were, Hugh Johnson OBE would be a candidate. Several of his books are on my shelf, and his writings have accompanied my entire journey into wine over the last 25 […]

The unknown Austria – Part 2

For the introduction to this tasting, please see Part 1. Orange Interlude Austria shares borders with Northern Italy and Slovenia – both parts of the world with a long tradition of using extended skin maceration in white wine. So it’s no surprise that Austrian winemakers have taken to this style enthusiastically, with some now well […]

The unknown Austria – Part 1

A year living in the small Austrian town of Eisenstadt developed my considerable love not just for one of its natives, but also for the restrained and elegant wines. The issue? Availability of many of the greatest wines is pretty sparse, or even non-existent outside Austria itself. Inevitably, if a restaurant in London or Amsterdam lists […]

Burgenland’s burgeoning orange scene: Andert Pamhogna

Some interesting Austria producers are well nigh invisible to the English speaking world, and at a guess this is why I’d never heard of Michael Andert (Andert Wein) until late last year. His tiny estate (4ha) in Burgenland (Easterly Austria, near the Hungarian border) has been certified biodynamic since 2003, and the white wines are all fermented on their skins.

Oxidative versus Oxidised: Pacina – La Cerratina 2012

“It’s oxidised” – how many times have I heard this statement, when talking about orange wines? Even amongst wine professionals, the misconception often prevails. Most of us are very visual creatures – confronted with what we’re told is ostensibly a white wine, and a darker russet brown, golden yellow or downright orange colour, it can be hard to shake off the thought that the wine is in less than prime condition.

Uros Klabjan – Malvazija 2012

Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here. You have to love a winemaker who recognises when refreshment comes first. I won’t ever forget a 2013 visit to Uros Klabjan‘s small estate in west Slovenia. For mid-May, the weather […]

Cornelissen’s way – Making wine without sulphur

I’m delighted that this feature was awarded “Best editorial/Opinion wine writing” in the 2015 Born Digital Wine awards. It originally appeared on Tim Atkin’s website in March 2014. Mount Etna’s most controversial winemaker, Frank Cornelissen, is a hard man to track down. After a first failed meet up (my tardiness partially to blame) and a number […]

Master of the Carso: Sandi Skerk – Ograde 2012

Sandi Skerk must have one of the most idyllically sited vineyards in Friuli, if not the world. Grassed terraces curve gently around the contours of the Carso hills, and lead your eye out towards the Adriatic coast. I’m profoundly happy to be standing by his albarello-pruned Vitovska vines, almost four years to the day after a previous eye-opening visit in 2011. Sandi is of course the same as ever – gentle, rather shy, yet somehow dogmatic and politely forceful when he needs to be.

Walking on the moon – Josip Brkić’s “Mjeseċąr”

For Josip Brkić, every year is an experiment – “Sometimes I bottle them, sometimes I don’t”, he tells me as we talk in his rather well appointed tasting room in central Čitluk (a winemaking town in Bosnia & Herzogovina’s Mostar region).

Mjeseċąr is one that made the grade. Translated as “Moonwalker”, the name is a homage to Brkić’s conversion to biodynamic farming. It’s both a sensitive interpretation of the region’s indigenous Žilavka grape variety, and a successful “orange wine”.