Getting into the rhythm of the IWC, and some perks

The first two days of the IWC were quite tough. Day 3, yesterday, was a bit easier, and I had enough energy to go out to play football last night. And this evening, after day 4, I felt much less tired, and we went out to see some friends for dinner.

In a strange way, tasting […]

A lager with flavour, from Italy

There’s more to beer than just cask-conditioned ale. Here’s a reasonably serious lager from Italy which is part of Marks & Spencer’s new-ish beer range. Titled simply ‘Italian Lager’, it is tangy and nicely bitter with lovely flavour and balance, as well as some complexity. There’s also a gently herbiness, adding to the savoury impression. […]

A serious Aussie Chardonnay: Eldridge Estate

Australian Chardonnay doesn’t have a great image these days. But, as the Landmark Tutorial last year showed, it’s a serious category. Here’s a new wine to me, which I really rate. It’s from Eldridge Estate in the Morning Peninsula.

Eldridge Estate Chardonnay 2008 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
14% alcohol. Complex, powerful and intense with rich but balanced flavours […]

Day two of the Challenge, including some lovely Pinot Noir

Another busy day at the International Wine Challenge today. I had another good, hard-working table, and we tasted 131 wines together.

Two flights stood out. The first was a flight of Chilean Pinot Noirs. I wasn’t expecting a great deal, but these were consistently good, with most of them reaching medal standard. Chile is making good […]

Day one of the 2010 IWC

Off to the Barbican today, in the City of London, for day 1 of the 2010 instalment of the International Wine Challenge – the world’s largest blind tasting wine competition. As one of the 20 panel chairs, I am contracted to both weeks of the competition, so I’ll be tasting here every day for the […]

Taste Portuguese wines tomorrow!

A quick plug for a chance to taste Portuguese wines tomorrow at Lord’s. It’s a consumer tasting organized by Viniportugal, and incorporates the ‘Big Tasting’ live with Oz Clarke, in conjunction with Waitrose. More details can be found at

A long, sunny walk and some good beer

A friend was staying, so today we took RTL on a long walk in Windsor Great Park, ending up in the Fox and Hounds for a couple of pints of refreshing ale. It was an almost impossibly beautiful spring day – not too hot, but perfectly sunny. The Valley Gardens are starting to come into […]

Two Chilean Pinots from Cono Sur

These are both good wines, offering some Pinot Noir character at a good price, but they’re a bit lacking in elegance. I’d recommend them, but only on the basis of value for money, and because it is so, so hard to get good cheap Pinot Noir.

Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2009 Central Valley, Chile
Vibrant, juicy and […]

Goose Island Honker’s Ale – like British ale but better!

Just back from the pub where I enjoyed a lovely pint of Goose Island Honker’s ale. It’s like a British cask-conditioned ale, but a bit better (I say this at risk of causing some controversy), combining hoppy flavours with some sweet maltiness, and a bit of spicy meaty character. Not too fizzy and really complex. […]

Two Belgian beers

One of my occasional forays into the world of beer. These are two very interesting beers, widely available in most supermarkets, and inexpensive (particularly when compared with good quality wines). Belgium has given us many gems: Dr Evil, ‘In Bruges’ and wonderful beer.

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale
8.5% alcohol. Pale yellow colour. Tangy, hoppy and a bit […]