Dinner at Dunc's

Last night we had dinner in the home of Duncan Savage, from Cape Point. Duncan’s wife Zani very kindly cooked for 12 of us, which was very public spirited, and we enjoyed an array of wines.

Duncan showed once again that he really is the master of careful oak use in whites with three wines. [...]

My new book: first glimpse of the cover design

So here’s the cover design for the book Sam and I have written. I think the designers have got it right first time. Now it all seems a lot more exciting! It’s out in September.

Some nice South African wines

So as well as judging (which is totally blind – we don’t even know the identity of the wines that have entered the competition), we’re managing to try some wine in our time off here at the Top 100 competition.

The highlight has probably been the Rustenberg Peter Barlow 1996 – a serious Bordeaux-style blend of [...]

Tasting teeth after another day's judging

Today has been hard work, but thoroughly enjoyable. Best of all, we are finding plenty of wines that we can stand behind as South Africa’s top 100.

I have tasting teeth tonight, though. After a full day hard at work tasting, my teeth turn a red/black colour. It’s important you don’t brush them too hard, because [...]

A good day's tasting

Today has been a very interesting day of tasting. It was the first day of judging the new South African Top 100 competition, held here in St James, Cape Town.

The judging protocol is amazingly rigorous. We are tasting in two teams. I was with Cathy van Zyl, Greg Sherwood and Duncan Savage. The other team [...]

Glad to be back in South Africa

It’s nice to be back in South Africa. I arrived mid-morning along with Greg Sherwood and Sam Harrop. Together with Tim Atkin, who got here a little earlier, we are the UK contingent judging the Top100 tasting (see the website here).

The three of us flew SAA, on a slightly older Airbus A340-200. This means that [...]

Breaky Bottom: an impressive English fizz

OK, we all know how good the famous names of English sparkling wine are: the likes of Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Camel Valley.
Well here’s another, less well known name, making some serious sparkling wine: Breaky Bottom. This is the first wine of theirs I have tried, even though they are old timers on the English scene, [...]

Verniotte Castillon 2008

This is a substantial Bordeaux from a lesser appellation, made by Henry Laithwaite, son of Tony Laithwaite. It’s the first wine to be produced fron this new estate, which has 4.2 hectares of old vines on top of a limestone ridge. It’s a big wine, but I like it, and reckon it has some ageing [...]

A busy day's tasting: IGP and Cote Rotie

So, today has been a busy day of tasting. It began with the IGP Top 100 tasting in Parson’s Green. Now IGP is what used to be Vin de Pays, and the goal of this tasting is to sift through 700 IGP wines and come up with a list of the 100 best.

Doug [...]

Squawking Magpie: a serious Kiwi Syrah

Now this is good. Another superb Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels subregion of Hawkes Bay in New Zealand.

Squawking Magpie ‘The Stoned Crow’ Syrah 2008 Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay
A single-vineyard wine aged in new French oak. 13.5% alcohol. Aromatic, peppery nose with black cherries, spice and some clove character. Quite savoury. The palate is fresh and [...]