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.

Muscat Ottonel, a love story

Sometimes the path of true love really does alter everything. When Austrian Martin Lichtenberger and Spaniard Adrianna Gonzalez met in 2007, during their winemaking studies in California, they might not have predicted that they’d soon be making wine together on another continent. Not to mention a skin contact Muscat Ottonel (an orange wine).

Barking at the moon: Movia – Lunar 2008

Aleš Kristančič is a man whose reputation precedes him. Movia, the family’s estate in Western Slovenia since 1820, has become one of the most well-known producers from the region, and also a trailblazer for the skin contact style.

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 […]

Balance is everything – Intellego Elementis 2014

Elementis 2014, like its predecessors, is 100% Chenin Blanc, fermented on the skins for 3 weeks and then matured in used French oak for 9-10 months. Jurgen gets incredible freshness and concentration from his dry farmed fruit. That’s given this wine a lightness of touch and purity that is quite startling.

Mastery of Manzoni: Elisabetta Foradori

There are a small number of winemakers out there who defy any attempt at categorisation, apart from superlatives. Elisabetta Foradori is one. She’s the darling of the Italian biodynamic wine movement, an early convert to amphorae, and a peerless exponent of long skin maceration for white wines. But it feels clumsy to describe Foradori’s output with such limiting terms and techniques.

Austrian wine gets a tan: Diwald’s orange Grüner Veltliner and more

This is Grüner Veltliner, but not as you know it. Martin Diwald fermented it in open plastic tubs, on its skins for 7 days. The result – Zündstoff – was destined for a blend, but turned out to be so delicious that it’s been bottled in its own right.

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 […]

Blank de Blanc

I visited Graves & Pessac-Léognan during harvest this year, and was really struck by the relative (for Bordeaux) good value that some wines represent – and by how invisible the white wines are in the UK – a great shame. My piece for Tim Atkin’s site goes into more detail: Browsing the wine selection at Bordeaux […]