Lunch with Frank Cornelissen and his fabulous Etna wines

Yesterday’s lunch was special. It was a chance to catch up with Frank Cornelissen (above), a winegrower from Sicily’s Mount Etna, over lunch at Hibiscus.

Frank works as naturally as possible, without using any chemicals in the vineyard – not even the sulfur and copper used by biodynamic and organic growers – and he doesn’t add [...]

Video: Benoit Gouez introduces Moet & Chandon's new Ice Imperial

I caught up with Moet & Chandon’s chef du cave Benoit Gouez, who was in town to launch a new Champagne. It’s Ice Imperial, a Champagne made with the intention of serving it on the rocks.

Traditionalists will be horrified. Here’s my interview with Benoit, who explains the concept behind it, the wine itself, and then [...]

Natural wines with Doug at Brawn

Had a tremendous evening last night with Doug Wregg at Brawn, out in the wilds of E2 (near Bethnal Green and Hoxton).

It was my first visit to Brawn, which, like Terroirs, is backed by Les Caves de Pyrene, importers of interesting terroir-driven and natural wines. The setting is informal, and the food is based around [...]

Video: on the Hermitage hill

Here’s a short film of the wonderful hill of Hermitage: a relatively small appellation of 123 hectares, of which 25 are white grapes (mainly Marsanne), the remainder Syrah. It’s amazing t0 think that grapes have been grown on this hillside since 400 BC.

Port: why the Symingtons didn't declare in 2009

Following up from my write-up of the 2009 Vintage Port declaration, Paul Symington contacted me to explain why the Symingtons didn’t make a widespread declaration of the 2009s, which I’m reproducing below:

I see on your website that somebody has commented that we are nor declaring “for non qualitative reasons”. This is entirely untrue. I have [...]

Ponce's Pino: a wonderful natural Bobal

I’m really impressed by the portfolio of Spanish wines that UK agency business Indigo Wine has put together. Agents like this, who are run by people who love wine, are inquisitive, and are prepared to hand sell relatively unsung gems, are the unsung heroes of the wine world.

This is one of their wines. It’s a [...]

The 2009 Vintage Ports from Fonseca, Taylor's and Croft

Went to a very interesting tasting this morning. It was the declaration tasting of the Vintage Ports from the Fladgate Group: Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft.

I really liked them. These are incredibly concentrated, dense wines with lots of structure. The good news? Despite the reduced yields, prices will be pretty much the same as when the [...]

Exploring the Hermitage hill

Just back from an amazing mini-trip to the northern Rhone to visit Chapoutier, who are the largest vineyard holders in Hermitage, one of the world’s great wine appellations.

Hermitage is the home of Syrah, but also makes some fabulous white wines, chiefly from Marsanne. But it’s a relatively small appellation, occupying a contiguous block of a [...]

Two Cabernets from Napa Valley: Silverado and Grgich Hills

I’ve only visited California’s most famous wine region – Napa Valley – once. But I was quite taken by the place. It’s actually a really good place to grow wine grapes, and makes some really superbwines. You can’t bash the wine region for the stylistic extremes and bad taste of some of the wineries, while [...]

Two Chateauneufs: Beaucastel 99 and Vieux Telegraphe 95

Nice to be able to compare these two side by side. The Beaucastel had the slight edge, although it’s not a competition of course. The VT 1995 is a wine that I’ve drunk on several occasions over recent years, and it’s probably worth drinking it up soon-ish. However, taste in old wine is quite a [...]