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.

Sepp Muster – Erde 2012

If you made a list of the world’s most vertiginous wine regions, Southern Styria would certainly be amongst them. Vineyards sprawl up and down extraordinary gradients, at unlikely angles to each other. It’s a breathtaking, individual landscape, and therefore quite fitting that the area is home to some of Austria’s most unconventional wines and producers.

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”.

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Everything you ever wanted to know about New Zealand wine

I admit it, I’m not an expert when it comes to New Zealand wine, despite having enjoyed a fair number of bottles over the years. I love the intensity of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, even if the style has become a little clichéd – and I wouldn’t kick the Pinot Noirs of Martinborough or Central Otago […]

Graves doesn’t have to be serious

Who doesn’t love a joyful, everyday wine – especially if it’s fairly priced Bordeaux. There’s an unfortunate view, particularly prevalent in the UK, that Bordeaux wines fall into only two categories – those sold at super-premium prices for the obscenely rich, and those that are little more than execrable filth. The truth is that there are many […]

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 […]