Worm farms, biodynamics and a serious Syrah at Waterkloof

I have just written up a lengthy article on Waterkloof, the Stellenbosch winery owned by UK wine merchant Paul Boutinot. It’s a really great project that just beginning to hit its stride, and is one of the few South African wineries to have embraced biodynamics. In this blog post, I wanted to draw out three [...]

Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol: what's the downside?

The UK is considering Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) of alcohol, with an initial level of 45 p per unit.

Initially, I couldn’t see a downside, from the perspective of a wine lover. It would make the cheapest bottle of wine £4.22 according to the BBC News story linked above. In Scotland, where a MUP of 50 [...]

Returning to my old university for a wine tasting

From 1986 until 1992 I spent six years at Royal Holloway University of London, first doing a BSc and then a PhD. Last night, I returned for the first time in almost 20 years (I went back in 1993 for my PhD exam) to do a wine tasting for postgrads and some staff in the [...]

A few nice Portuguese bottles from The Wine Society

Ah, Portugal. One of my favourite wine countries. Here are three good bottles from The Wine Society that are affordable and tasty.

Campolargo Alvarelhão 2011 Bairrada, Portugal
This is brilliant. It’s from a variety that’s also grown in Galicia, where it is known as Brancellao (it was a component in this wine reviewed recently), and which makes medium/light [...]

On Andrew Jefford's famous speech at the bloggers' conference

Andrew Jefford at work

I can’t think of many recent pieces of within-trade wine communication that have had such an impact as Andrew Jefford’s keynote speech at the recent bloggers conference, which he has posted on his website.

Jefford addresses some of the issues that those of us who write about wine have been grappling with [...]

Primitivo, Musar, Bordeaux and Rioja

Had some friends round last night, so four interesting reds went into decanters. These friends weren’t wine geeks, and I always enjoy seeing the way non-wine-nuts respond to wine.

So, from right to left, the four bottles:

Musar 2004 – the current release of a wine that divides opinion. I love it. Although Musar isn’t considered a natural [...]

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2010, a delicious, serious Beaujolais

This is a really good example of how Beaujolais is becoming SERIOUS.

It’s naturally made, from organically (in conversion) farmed vineyards. It is from vineyards at almost 500 m in elevation, on a south-facing plt on pink granite, planted at high density from 50 year old vines (10 000 vines per hectare).

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2010 Beaujolais, France
12.5% [...]

A superb Hunter Valley Semillon

This is rather good. It’s a Tyrrells exclusive for UK retailer Marks & Spencer, and it’s the real deal. Proper Hunter Semillon, just entering its long drinking window. It’s not cheap, but this is a serious fine wine that will age well. And occasionally, M&S have 25% off the range, when this becomes a very [...]

Presenting natural wines to a curious audience

Just finished a tasting for the Oxford Wine Club. I presented nine natural wines, all sourced from Les Caves de Pyrene. I knew it would be a challenge, because some of these wines were taking people well out of their comfort zone.

In some cases, these are the strong, smelly cheeses of the wine world. In [...]

Chateau Chunder, an interesting documentary about Australian wine reviewed

I’ve just watched Stephen Oliver’s excellent documentary on Australian wine, and how it changed British drinking habits. The title, ‘Chateau Chunder,’ comes from a 1972 Monty Python sketch knocking Aussie wine.

This is not a wine for drinking. This is a wine for laying down and avoiding.

This reflects the attitudes towards Aussie wine in 1970s Britain. [...]