Tasting a sample of wine sort of sucks

Don’t get me wrong. I love big tastings where you get a chance to taste lots of wine. It’s an incredible opportunity for a wine writer to be able to taste, in the space of one day, perhaps 80 different wines. You rapidly build up quite a stock of tasting notes.

But there are severe problems [...]

Two natural Beaujolais

Two interesting expressions of Beaujolais, from a couple of the natural wine crowd. Beaujolais is a real hub of natural winemakers, many of whom were inspired by the late Jules Chauvet, widely recognized as the father of natural wine.

Jean-Claude Lapalu Brouilly 2007 Beaujolais
13% alcohol. A startling wine: fresh, spicy and a bit animal, with a [...]

At Wimbledon, drinking fizz and watching The Fed

Had a super day’s fun at Wimbledon today. Hospitality courtesy of Champagne Lanson saw a troop of wine press gather on a perfect day for tennis, including Tim Atkin, Anthony Rose, Ollie Smith, Victoria Moore, Guy Woodward, Rosie Davenport, Will Lyons and David Longfield.  We were lucky enough to have tickets for the Centre Court, [...]

Another good South African

I currently have a few decent South African wines in the tasting queue. Here’s one that yielded a good deal of pleasure: ripe and modern, but not spoofy.

Englebrecht Els Vineyard Proprietor’s Blend 2007 Stellenbosch
15% alcohol. A complex blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz, 8% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. [...]

Flowering has started and the hats are coming off

Flowering has started on my Pinot Noir vines. You’ll see that some of the flowers have emerged; others still have their caps on. These browning caps can cause botrytis later in the season if they remain trapped in the bunch, as they can act as a focus of infection. Organic products such as Botryzen look [...]

The England football team…

…are staying in the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town. I checked by blog and found out that I stayed there back in November 2005 (entry is on this page, dated 28 November). It was a lovely hotel – far too good for our overpaid, underperforming football stars. At the time I was attending a [...]

Visiting Laithwaites, one of the UK's most important wine merchants

Yesterday I visited Laithwaites’ large wine shop in Vinopolis, near London Bridge station. I tasted a selection of the range and then had lunch with buying director Justin Howard-Sneyd (above) and buyer Becca Reeves. I’ve been a Laithwaites sceptic in the past, but I from the conversations we had and the wines we tried, I [...]

A superb South African Merlot

I’m not the world’s greatest Merlot fan, and so I was pleasantly surprised by this superb South African Merlot, from Hartenberg, a winery I visited on my first trip to South Africa in 2003. They’re the winery that used to make a varietal Pontac, which I think they’ve since discontinued.

Hartenberg Merlot 2007 Stellenbosch
14.5% alcohol. This [...]

An unusual but lovely natural Chenin

This is something rather different. A natural wine, with no sulphur dioxide added, and slightly sparkling: it started sweet and refermented in the bottle. 600 bottles made. It’s another from Les Caves de Pyrene, and their commentary on it can be read here.  Aveyron is in the South of France, right in the middle, just [...]

The (potential) new drink drive limit

Some observations on the plans to reduce the drink drive limit in the UK from 80 mg alcohol/100 ml blood to 50 mg, suggested by the North Report.

1. The current level is not strongly enforced. Wouldn’t it make more sense to enforce it more strongly than to change it?

2. The penalty for driving above the [...]