A walk in the country with Wolf (Blass)

The children were off to Thorpe Park (which we refer to when they are not around as chav heaven). For Fiona and I, the calmer, more refined delights of a walk in the country with RTL beckoned.

So we picked up a picnic in Waitrose (squid with chilli and pepper; crayfish salad; tortilla) and headed off [...]

Some 19th Century quotes on Port and Portuguese wines

I’ve been browsing a few old books online, and came across a couple of nice quotes on Port and Portuguese wines from a late 19th Century text:

‘The mode of making port wine is extremely unclean, and the proceedings are very crude and elementary; nevertheless, so good a product is obtained that its faults are, as [...]

Vintage Port 2008: Noval and Romaneira

I have some Vintage Port from 2008 open at the moment. First up, two with a sort of family resemblance (Christian Seely is involved in both). Quinta do Noval has, over recent vintages, established itself as one of the top Douro properties. Romaneira is one to watch: a fantastically situated Quinta only recently renovated and [...]

Cricket, football, Pride and fizz

It has been a sport-filled day. This afternoon I played for the wine trade against Hampton Wick. They were a strong side; we were a little weak on the bowling front. On a gorgeous but windy afternoon I bowled a spell of nine overs. That’s quite long for me. I was getting it in the [...]

A superb South African tasting

Brilliant tasting today at the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square. It was titled ‘taste the earth’, and the idea was to show wines where there was link between the terroir and the flavour.

160 wines were shown, which is, of course, too many to taste all of them and make sensible, serious judgements. But [...]

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc, 2000 and 2004

I’m a big fan of Philipponnat. The Grand Blanc is a blend of Grand and Premier Cru Chardonnay, part fermented in wood. It’s a serious wine indeed, and here I tried two vintages, the 2000 and 2004. [Technically, I actually drank both vintages. They were fantastic and this isn't a wine for spitting.]

Champagne Philipponnat 2000 [...]

Video: the vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape

A brief film showing the vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape, taken on my recent visit.

Tasting notes on great wines are a bit stupid

I’m going to be brutally honest. Tasting notes on great wines are mostly stupid. There’s this notion that tasting notes by ‘professional’ tasters are a valuable commodity. Something that punters will pay for.

This goes hand in hand with the idea that once tasters reach some baseline level of competence, their note will be an accurate [...]

Red Vinho Verde: two Vinhãos compared

Vinho Verde comes from the north of Portugal, and most of you will probably have tried one or two white examples. What most people don’t tend to encounter is Vinho Verde in its red incarnation. It’s an unusual wine. Made chiefly from the Vinhão grape (known elsewhere in Portugal as Sousão), it’s very deep in [...]

Two impressive Aussie Nebbiolos

Nebbiolo is a perplexing but wonderful grape variety. Naturally low in colour and high in tannin, it isn’t very consumer friendly. But it is capable of greatness, as the top examples of Barbaresco and Barolo demonstrate on a regular basis.

Like many Italian red varieties, it doesn’t travel well and attempts to make new world Nebbiolo [...]