Impressive new releases from Sant'ana, Portugal

Nick Oakley popped round on Thursday and brought with him some new releases from Lisbon-region producer Quinta de Sant’ana, who he represents in the UK. I visited in March (report here), and tried cask samples of these three whites. It’s nice to see them in bottle – I think they are really good. UK retail [...]

Two delicious expressions of Cheverny

Cheverny is a little-known appellation in the Loire. Here are two contrasting wines. In the red corner, a wonderful natural-style wine that’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. In the white, a more accessible blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (this is typical of the region’s whites, although Chenin and Arbois are also allowed).

Clos [...]

Pinot Noir, pre veraison

My garden Pinot Noir vines have yet to reach veraison, but they are looking very healthy. No signs of any disease, and just two sulfur applications so far the only preventive measures I have taken this season.

My only cause for concern is the debris hiding in the bunches, from failed berries and dead flower caps [...]

Striking but wonderful white Rioja

These two vintages of Finca Allende’s white Rioja took me by surprise. I’ve not had all that many good experiences of white Rioja (this is largely because of winemaking choices, rather than the intrinsic quality of the grapes – there are some fabulous old white vines in the region), but these two wines were deeply [...]

An elegant Languedoc red: Ch l'Hospitalet

This wine, from Gerard Bertrand’s Ch l’Hospitalet, is really impressive. Quite elegant, which is an achievement for a warm region like the Languedoc.

Château l’Hospitalet La Reserve 2007 La Clape, Languedoc, France
13.5% alcohol. A blend of 40% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre, 30% Grenache. Beautifully aromatic with sweet, pure berry and cherry fruit notes. Quite liqueur-like. The [...]

Reminded of my shady past – acoustic rock with a celtic spirit

Just been walking the dog on Hounslow heath, when I bumped into Vanessa, who I used to be in a band with at college. We were called ‘Tintagel’, and Trevor, the bass player and wordsmith, put up a myspace page for the band a few years ago. Brings back a lot of fun memories.

Breton La Dilettante and Foillard Côte du Py

Had dinner at Francis and Bronwen Percival’s home in Borough Market tonight, along with coffee expert James Hoffmann. We were discussing the autumn program for the London Gastronomy Seminars, which have enjoyed a successful start. Two excellent wines were served.

Catherine and Pierre Breton Vouvray ‘La Dilettante’ 2008 Loire
12% alcohol. ‘Chenin Moustillant Naturellement’. This is a [...]

Video: Quinta do Noval’s Nacional vineyard

A short film of a remarkable vineyard plot: Quinta do Noval’s Nacional, a 2.5 hectare plot in the Noval vineyard in the Pinhao Valley. The 6000 vines are ungrafted, planted from 1925, and yield a tiny quantity of grapes, which in selected years (but more often than the vintage declaration) make the famed Nacional Vintage [...]

Alsace season, 4: Dirler Belzbrunnen Riesling

Alsace Riesling is really interesting. It can be dry, off-dry or sweet, and usually has more body than German examples. The best examples rank among the highest expressions of this versatile variety, which seems to be able to make great wines in a number of styles. This one is from the south of the Alsace [...]