Springfield Life From Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Now this is a wine I have struggled with in the past. I have found it to be excessively dominated by those green methoxypyrazine characters, to the point of unbalance, while everyone else has raved about it. But I’m an open-minded sort of guy, and trying this 2014 – well, I actually liked it. It’s [...]

Vichy Catalan mineral water

In Spain last week I was introduced to Vichy Catalan mineral water. This is the most remarkable and tasty water I have ever experienced. It tastes a bit salty, but more than that – really mineral, with a very distinctive texture. This is really interesting to me, as I’m quite obsessed by the concept of [...]

Champagne - a blind tasting of some top bottles, with surprises

The older I get the more I like Champagne. This makes me sound like an old fart, but it is true. Champagne rocks. It’s a very interesting drink, and it takes a long time to begin to understand it. Slowly, I am beginning to understand it.

Last night I went to a fun blind Champagne tasting, [...]

How restaurants might be more innovative

I eat out a lot. (Usually at other people’s expense, I admit.) So how restaurants work is something I think about often. How might they innovate more? How might they do things differently?

It’s a multifaceted discussion. Yes, people go to restaurants to eat food, but beyond this rather obvious statement, they visit for a variety [...]

In Spain, at the Ecosostenible Wine conference

I am in Vilafranca del Penedes in Spain, at the fourth Ecosostenible Wine conference, where I have been a participant.

It’s a technical conference examining organic wine production, sustainability and climate change. The discussions today were wide-ranging, covering aspects such as replacing copper in organic viticulture, life cycle assessments of the carbon footprint of wooden versus [...]

Stepp Riesling 'S'

This is a pretty serious Riesling. It’s made by Gerd Stepp, from a single vineyard, Kallstadter Saumage, with loess and loam rich soils with a high limestone content, in Germany’s Pfalz. The soils here have lots of tiny fossil shells, resulting in high calcium content. Apparently Saumagen translates as pig’s stomach. Gerd used to buy [...]

Wine critics and wine writers

On Friday I wrote a piece for Tim Atkin’s website on the future of wine writing, considering the differing roles of critics and writers. In it, I suggested that if the future of wine writing is a move to wine criticism, where wines are assessed outside their context, then it’s not one I’ll welcome. My [...]

Lunch with two great South African wines, and a good northern Rhône

Had a lovely long lunch yesterday. It was at Bread Street Kitchen, part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, located next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The dining room is huge. Really huge. Impressively huge. It’s beautifully finished in a faux vintage, semi-industrial style, but it’s really noisy. We could hardly hear the waitstaff as they talked to [...]

Judging at the International Wine Challenge, 2015, Tranche 1

For the last couple of days I have been at The Oval (one of London’s two major cricket grounds) judging in the International Wine Challenge. It’s the second year where the judging has been divided into two tranches. This is tranche 1 of 2015, and the second (and larger) tranche will be held in April [...]

Comparing the same wine sealed with cork and screwcap

The closure debate has moved on quite a bit since the days when it was practically pitched warfare between the screwcap advocates (mainly Australia and New Zealand) and those who liked the traditional solution of natural cork. Now there’s a sort of truce.

For commercial wines, few have a problem with screwcaps. They’re taint free, they [...]