A memorable meal at Shimo, Healdsburg

Last night’s meal at Shimo, Healdsburg will live long in the memory. It describes its offerings as ‘modern steak’, and the steak we had was probably the best I’ve ever experienced.

Between five, we ordered two significant hunks of meat. A porterhouse (below), and a bone-in ribeye (above). They were prepared on the rare side of [...]

An afternoon in Sonoma wine country

Yesterday afternoon was fun, with two contrasting winery visits. Scott Burr, my host, arranged two appointments, on a gloriously bright spring day. On the one hand, Kenwood: a relatively large winery in the Sonoma Valley (production – 500 000 cases), and on the other, Benovia, a boutique operation producing 4000 cases.

Both were very good. Pat [...]

10 lovely US wines with dinner at Willi's Wine Bar

Some very nice wines at Willi’s Wine Bar here in Santa Rosa last night. It’s an interesting place: they offer wine in a range of measures, including 2 oz tasting pours, which makes it possible to try quite a number over the course of an evening. Our 2 oz pours seemed quite generous, with more [...]

A Frenchman in Portugal: Francois Lurton's Douro wines

Francois Lurton (website here) makes wine in France, Chile, Argentina, Spain and now Portugal. He bought his first Douro property in 2006 (Quinta Beira), and has subsequently added a second (Quinta Malho).

I tried the 2008 releases, which include the two Quinta wines and two more commercial brands. I’ll be honest: I was a little disappointed with [...]

Two natural-tasting, affordable French wines

Always good to find decent, natural tasting French wines that I can afford. Here are a couple imported directly by London merchant Roberson. Both are organic.

Julien Sunier Beaujolais-Villages 2008
12.5% alcohol. Fresh, bright and quite light with cherry and berry fruits, some grippy, slightly grainy tannins and good acidity. Subtle earthy, mineral notes add interest. Some [...]

Another good Aussie Riesling

Here’s another classic Aussie Riesling, from the Eden Valley. It’s a wine that is held back before release, which is great, because few consumers have a chance to cellar wines properly.

Pewsey Vale ‘The Contours’ Riesling 2004 Eden Valley
Distinctive mineral, limey nose with a hint of petrol. The palate is precise, pithy, citrussy and herby with [...]

A brief trip to Hungary

Just on my way home for a brief trip to Eger, in Hungary. I was attending a meeting organized by agrochemical company BASF for some of their most important (viticulture) customers in Hungary.

I left at some unearthly hour from Heathrow yesterday, arriving in Eger by lunchtime. The meeting room was incredibly flash, with multiple screens [...]

Chateau Brown 2007: good, affordable Bordeaux

Back in September 2007 I visited Chateau Brown in Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, just before the harvest was about to begin (see my photo gallery here). This week, I’ve finally had a chance to taste the wine made from those grapes that I saw on the vines. And given the vintage, it’s a really impressive result. There’s [...]

Talking about social media for wineries

Interesting session today at the importers’ AGM held by Wines of South Africa in London. I was there to speak about the use of social media in the wine trade (my presentation is available here if you want to see it). Two points of discussion proved quite interesting.

The first was whether or not agencies/importers/wineries should [...]