In Burgundy (2)
Took the Eurostar to Paris, then headed to Dijon, and now I'm in Beaune. There's something thrilling about Burgundy.
Excited to be off to Burgundy for a short trip tomorrow morning. Some nice visits planned:
A quick blog post before I retire to bed, tired from a busy day.
No work today at all. Spent the day playing cricket for the wine trade XI versus the Hampshire Hogs down in Warnford.
Tonight's drinking: two red wines, both from the same remarkable patch of land. That'll be New Zealand's Hawkes Bay region, and more specifically the Gimblett Gravels - a relatively recently discovered terroir that makes lovely red wines, both from Syrah and also Bordeaux varieties. These wines aren't the very best that the Gimblett has to offer (Waitrose have a couple of Craggy Range wines - Block 14 and Sophia - that should give you that), but they are affordable and delicious.
Very interesting tasting this afternoon. It was held at Australia House (where they have the annoying rule that if the invitation says 3.30 pm, you aren't even allowed in the building until 3.30 pm), and it involved a vertical of two Penfolds wines: the iconic Grange, and its sibling the Bin 389. There was a good turnout, including cricketing legend Ian Botham.
I'm drinking Riesling tonight, sitting outside just after the light has finally faded and the temperature has dipped into the late teens.
Where can you find world-class Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines outside Bordeaux? Australia does a good job in Margaret River and Coonawarra (and I'd add Clare Valley, too), but perhaps the leading contender is California's Napa Valley, where the leading wines compete in price with the very best from Bordeaux.
Fellow blogger and Barossa grape grower Matthew Munzberg recently sent me two vintages of his own wine to try. It's a Shiraz called 'Mad Dog', and is brilliantly packaged. I like the wines a lot: typical Barossa style, with lots of character. Matthew makes 400 cases from the best of his 35 hectares of vineyards in the heart of the Barossa, and the wine is available in the UK from Corney & Barrow (here) for £15.99 a bottle.
Fiona and I headed off to Kingston for lunch today. We checked out Jamie's Italian (www.jamieoliver.com/italian), one of the restaurants in the neighbourhood Italian chain that Jamie Oliver is in the process of building.
Had a reasonably busy day today. I began by meeting with Aussie wine scientist Richard Gibson, who runs a wine consultancy called Scorpex (http://www.scorpex.net/). We discussed closures, and oxygen and wine.
We took advantage of our child-free status to walk in the countryside. The walk? One of the Guardian's series on British walks, this one in the Oxfordshire countryside focusing on the white horse of Uffington - here. It was really enjoyable, and the directions were clear and unambiguous. We completed the 10 mile route in 3.5 hours, and for most of the way RTL could be let off the lead.
The World of Fine Wine issue 24 arrived on my doormat today. It's an expensive publication (£30/$60/E50 for a single issue), but it's unbelievably rich in content (disclaimer: I write for it).
Fiona and I have a few days without children. This is almost an impossible luxury, and we were planning to go away for a few days somewhere exotic. But RTL is in season, and there's nowhere we can leave her, so we're staying put. The only solution is to drink wine, good wine, and in quantity. We made a good stab at it this lunchtime, beginning with a zero dosage Champagne in the glorious sunshine.
Vin Santo is a sweet wine from Tuscany that's made by picking grapes and then drying them for a while to concentrated the sweetness and acidity. These are then fermented and aged in small barrels, sealed with wax. Here's a short film made during my Chianti Classico trip of Vin Santo production at Castello della Paneretta:
Almost a year ago I visited the Dao and Bairrada regions of Portugal; on that trip, Ana Sofia of Viniportugal encouraged me also to visit the Beria Interior, the region that is sandwiched between the Douro and the Alentejo in the east of Portugal. I'm glad she did, because this is a rather poorly known region that's making some great wines. Tonight's wine comes from here.
Italian restaurant chain Carluccio's (www.carluccios.com) are having a wine festival. It began a few days ago and runs through to the beginning of August, and features Sicilian wines from Planeta and the Settesoli co-op. These wines are really good, and they're exceptionally well priced, and so I thought I'd draw my readers' attention to it (no commercial link). There are free tastings of these wines every Thursday, as well as a series of special dinners.
A leading expert on biodynamics kindly agreed to answer some queries I had about this unusual but increasingly important way of growing wine grapes. Here are the 12 questions I sent him. Have you got any you'd like to add to the list?
I've recently had the chance to taste some rather grand French wines blind, without realizing what I was tasting. There were some smart wines in the London installment of the Berlin tasting - Lafite, Latour and Margaux 2005. And then in the Pinot Noir session at the Landmark Australia Tutorial, Tom Carson slipped in a bottle of DRC Romanee St Vivant 2002 as a ringer.
Almost as if to prove that this hasn't become Jamie's Australian Wine Blog, I'm switching my attention to a Californian wine tonight.
I'm in the Quantas lounge at Sydney waiting to board a pretty much direct flight back to London. I'm looking forward to some sleep, and a few bad but enjoyable films on the way back, as well as some space to digest the remarkably rich experiences of the last week and a half. And don't be mistaken: I do realize how incredibly lucky and priveliged I have been to take part in the first Landmark Tutorial, and also to have the opportunities I'm offered for travel like this.
A quick update from the road. For the last couple of days I’ve been having a crazy time in the Blue Mountains, a beautiful national park that’s just a couple of hours’ drive from Sydney.
It has been one of the most remarkable wine weeks of my life. After all that had gone before, it was only appropriate that we should finish with two of the most remarkable wines I have ever tasted. James Godfrey from Seppeltsfield presented the final session on Fortifieds, and this started off well and just got better. The list of wines reads:
Just wanted to draw the attention of UK-based readers to a week-only 25% off all wine at Waitrose Wine Direct (http://www.waitrosewine.com/). Waitrose have a good range, and this is a genuinely good, honest offer.
It's another beautiful morning here in the Barossa as we prepare for day 3 of the Landmark Tutorial. This morning: Iain Riggs on Semillon (and blends thereof), then Rob Mann on Cabernet (and blends thereof).
Here's the view from my room this morning here in the Barossa, as I prepare for an exciting day's tasting and learning. We are so, so lucky to be experiencing this! I hope you'll forgive my unbridled enthusiasm...
I’m now in the Barossa, staying at The Louise (www.thelouise.com.au; one of the best places I've ever stayed), and about two-thirds through day one of the Landmark Tutorial. It is already very exciting, and we’ve only really just got going.