Some lovely wines at The Sampler

The Sampler is such a great wine merchant. I spent some time at the South Kensington store this evening tasting wines from their enomatic machines. You don’t need to spend much money to have a lot of fun here, and they have a lot of interesting things on tasting, including some older vintages. Here are […]

A brilliantly affordable sweet South African

Very impressed by this affordable sweet wine from South Africa. It’s remarkable value for money.

Nuy Red Muskadel NV South Africa
16% alcohol. This is something a bit different: an old-fashioned fortified sweet red muscat from South Africa, offering lovely flavours of rosehips and raspberry jam on toast, with a bit of spiciness. There are also subtle notes of […]

Stunning wines from Alvaro Palacios

I have just written up the remarkable wines of Alvaro Palacios (and other family members):

Alvaro Palacios, Priorat
Descendientes de J Palacios, Bierzo
Palacios Remondo, Rioja

The top wines from Priorat and Bierzo are among Spain’s most expensive. But the good news is that the inexpensive wines from these projects are thrilling, aromatically stunning, and don’t need to be […]

More thoughts on selection, and does ageability require compromise?

I posted a couple of days ago about hyperselection, and whether or not this was a good thing in red winemaking.

At lunch yesterday I had a discussion with Elizabeth Vianna, winemaker at Chimney Rock in California’s Napa Valley. This vintage, for the first time, they hired the latest-generation optical sorter for a trial. This proved very […]

Hyperselection: is it a good thing?

The idea of selecting grapes for quality isn’t a new one. It can be done in the vineyard (choosing which grapes to pick, or going through before harvest and getting rid of the bad ones), or in the winery, or both. It’s just that now there seems to be a lot of what I term […]

Marcel Deiss Engelgarten

I love the wines of Alsace, and one of the leading producers in the region is Marcel Deiss. He takes an interesting approach. For the lesser terroirs, he makes varietal wines. But for his top sites, the wines are blends. This is in discord with the rest of the region. He thinks that good sites […]

More from Belgrade, Serbia


Just back from Belgrade, where I have been having a lot of fun judging wines, eating, drinking and staying up too late.

On Friday, we judged 160 wines; on Saturday we retasted the 33 highest-scoring wines to sort out the gold and silver medals. This was followed by a fun session choosing the trophy winners, and […]

In Serbia judging wine

I’m in Serbia. It is my first time here, and I’ve come to act as a judge in the Serbian wine awards competition Great Serbian Wine Tasting 2013, which is organized by online magazine and Vino & Fino magazine.

It is being held in Belgrade, but so far I haven’t seen much of this famous […]

Sainsbury's ends fake 'half price' wine offers, for now

For more than three years I have been complaining about the fake half price wine offers in supermarkets. See here, here and here. What’s wrong with a deal? Nothing, it’s just that these deals are illusory. The wines – known in the trade as tactical brands or trade drivers – are designed with discounting in […]

Are we making too much of grape varieties?

Has the case for grape varieties been overstated? Do we make too much of them?

Andrew Jefford thinks so.

Writing in his latest blog for Decanter he argues that:

Too much ‘varietal thinking’… may inhibit and shackle wine appreciation.  If we were to regard place and the cultural traditions of place as the primary translators of wine flavour, […]