Sweet wine season, 7: Chaupotier Hermitage Vin de Paille 1995

This is quite serious. It’s a sweet white wine made from the Marsanne variety, picked ripe, sorted and then dried on straw mats for two months. The must typically has 350 g/l sugar, and after fermentation it’s pretty sweet, at about the same level as a regular Sauternes, with 100 g/l residual sugar. The wines [...]

Hester’s 40th, Fabrice and an imperial of Sauternes

Just back from my younger sister Hester’s 40th celebrations, held in a marquee in the gardens of her home in Gerrards Cross. Brother-in-law William had secured the services of star guest Fabrice Dubourdieu, who had come over from Bordeaux with two imperials (six litre bottles) of Sauternes (Chateau Cantegril 2007), one of which we drank. [...]

Penfolds Koonunga Hill revived - retro delights

Penfolds have revived their Koonunga Hill label by releasing two new wines in retro packaging. Back in 1976, the Koonunga Hill red was first released. It was cheap, but surprisingly serious, and able to develop over many years.

During the dark years when Penfolds lost their way a bit, the Koonunga Hill brand lost some quality, [...]

Sweet wine season, 6: a stunning South African

I’m enjoying this sweet wine season. Most of all, I’m impressed by just how good many sweet wines are. This one, a botrytised Riesling from South Africa, blew me away. It’s really serious stuff.

Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2008 Stellenbosch, South Africa
11% alcohol. This Riesling is a golden colour, with a lovely nose of honeyed [...]

Why we should be grateful for Robert Parker

Robert Parker is the world’s most famous wine critic. Since his rise to fame in the 1980s through a newsletter called The Wine Advocate, his 100-point scale has become the default scoring system for wines. He’s also spawned a band of imitators.

When I first began drinking wine in earnest, in the early 1990s, I remember the [...]

Sweet wine season, 5: Riverby Estate Noble Riesling, New Zealand

Until recently a peculiar piece of legislation prevented New Zealand from exporting their sweet wines to the EU. Fortunately, this has changed, and now we can get to know the exciting sweet wines of Kiwiland. Here’s one from Marlborough producer Riverby Estate, which hits the mark very nicely. It’s a botrytised Riesling.

Riverby Estate Noble Riesling [...]

Sweet wine season, 4: Pedro Ximenez, an extreme style

This is about as extreme as sweet wine gets. Very ripe grapes dried in the sun, then fortified and aged for a long time in old barrels in a solera system. PX can get a little cloying; this one avoids that and is quite beautiful.

Harvey’s Pedro Ximénez 30 Years VORS Sherry
From a solera founded in [...]

Wine tasters invade a scientific research community

Interesting side-story on the much-tweeted SITT tasting today. The wine social media community – me included – used the #SITT twitter hash tag without testing it first. The result is we inadvertently invaded the permanent #SITT tag used by Science in The Triangle, the social media network of research scientists in North Carolina’s Research Triangle [...]

Some lovely wines tasted at SITT

Top wines of the SITT tasting, February 24th 2010

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite wines from today’s SITT (SITT = specialist importers trade tasting). It’s now a big tasting with many seriously interesting wines, and I just tried a small proportion of them. As a result, this is very much a personal selection, [...]

Two contrasting Rhone-style wines from California and Australia

Two rather different takes on the Rhone here, one tending towards old world elegance; the other, unashamedly ripe and new world in style. They’re both from UK supermarket (or, to be technically correct, department store) Marks & Spencer, made for them by famous winegrowers. My preference is for the Bonny Doon, but I can see [...]