Exciting new releases from Douro producer Conceito

Very impressed by these new releases from Rita Ferreira’s Conceito. They’re all really good. The Branco and Bastardo are probably my favourites, though. And the label design is just wonderfully eccentric.

Conceito Branco 2009 Douro
13.5% alcohol. Distinctively packaged. Taut and intense nose with fresh citrus and grapefruit pith notes, as well as some white peach [...]

A couple of affordable Rieslings: Germany and Alsace

It’s Riesling weather. Warm and spring-like. Here are two that I’ve recently enjoyed.

Fritz’s Riesling 2009 Rheinhessen, Germany
11% alcohol. This is what Riesling needs to do to revive its popularity. Nicely packaged, this has a pithy, limey nose with some ripe apple notes. The palate shows pear, apple, lemon and melon notes. It’s fresh and off-dry [...]

City reach the FA Cup final!

A great day out today. My first visit to Wembley with City, and they won the cup semi-final against UTD. A superb game. No match report; just some pictures.

My buddy Rob.

The end of the first week of judging, some proofs and an index

Just a brief post this evening. I’m tired, after a week’s enjoyable but thorough tasting at the IWC.

Today was another good day, with another fun panel (above). From my perspective the best thing about the IWC is the chance to work alongside colleagues, getting to know new people, and learning from the experience of tasting [...]

IWC, day 4

I’m very tired after today’s tasting at the International Wine Challenge. RTL woke me up at 0330, and then again at 0400 – she was barking like a dog possessed, and we don’t know why. And I was also quite late to bed after my game of football, followed by a few glasses of Central [...]

Beer: three BrewDogs

BrewDog (website here) is a provocative, creative and innovative brewery in Scotland, currently making some of the UK’s most interesting beers.
I tried three of them, all available in Sainsbury’s. They’re brilliant. To quote one of the back labels: ‘The UK beer scene is sick. And we are the doctor.’

BrewDog Punk IPA
5.6% alcohol. Lively and fresh [...]

Day 3 of the IWC - another good one

So, day 3 of the International Wine Challenge has come and gone. Today, the panel I was part of tasted 109 wines, which was a comfortable number. It’s important that you don’t taste so many that your palate becomes physically fatigued: this can happen. 109 wines, tasting from 9.45 to 4.15 pm with an hour [...]

Day 2 at the IWC - an enjoyable day of tasting

Day 2 of the International Wine Challenge has finished, and I’m beginning to get in the swing of things.

Just as an athlete gets into shape through training, I reckon wine tasters can get their palates sharper through intensive tasting. Not that I’d claim to be some Olympic-level taster. That would be ludicrous. It’s just that [...]

A convincing Portuguese Pinot Noir, but will it get approval from the authorities?

A while back I reported on a visit to Portuguese winery Quinta de Sant’ana in the Lisboa region. I was particularly impressed by their Pinot Noir, which showed lovely elegance and varietal character.

Now it’s in bottle, and looking really good. However, they’ve run into problems with the authorities, who think the wine is too light. [...]

International Wine Challenge Day 1 - fun at the Barbican

For the next two weeks I’m going to be filling the role of ‘panel chair’ at the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world’s largest blind tasting competition.

For a freelancer like me, it is quite nice to have a couple of weeks where I’m doing something that resembles a normal job. I have to get out [...]