On going back, and beginnings and endings

Yesterday I went back to the building that I’d worked in for 15 years. It was for the Gonzalez Byass tasting, which was held at 41 Portland Place, an 18th Century Adam-style terrace that is now home to the Academy of Medical Sciences. I started working there – it was then another scientific charity, the [...]

B Vintners: an exciting 'vine exploration' winery from South Africa

B Vintners is a collaboration between cousins Gavin Bruwer and Bruwer Raats. They describe it as a ‘vine exploration company’, and the aim is to tell the story of the heritage of the South African wine industry, and looking at sourcing grapes from some of the most interesting vineyards in the Cape. The prime focus [...]

So just how good is English sparkling wine? A blind tasting

I took part in a brilliant tasting today, organized by Noble Rot magazine. Alas, there’s an embargo, so I can’t tell you the outcome or list the wines involved, but I can share some pictures and give a little commentary.

So, the tasting was pitting four of the best English sparkling wines (and the Noble Rot [...]

Lunch at Chez Bruce with some of South Africa's finest, plus some old world stars

Had a special lunch at Chez Bruce last Thursday, with some memorable wines. Keith Prothero was hosting, and also present were Chris and Suzaan Alheit, Peter-Allan Finlayson, Chris Mullineux, John Seccombe, Nigel Platts-Martin, Greg Sherwood and Jancis Robinson. As usual, the food was close to perfection. But what was really interesting was seeing how some [...]

A delicious Koshu from Japan: Grace Kayagutake 2013

Koshu is a Japanese grape variety. It produces large bunches of pink-skinned grapes, which are used to make white wine. Often it’s quite neutral, but here’s one that has some real interest.

Grace Koshu Kayagutake 2013 Yamanashi, Japan
11.5% alcohol. This is interesting. It has an aromatic, gravelly, mineral edge to the citrussy nose. [...]

South African fine wine comes of age: the new wave South African tasting

Yesterday was the New Wave South African tasting, held in a really cool venue under a vinyl shop in Soho. Rarely have I been to a tasting where the wines are as consistently good and interesting, and the people presenting them so great. There was a real buzz about the place.

There was also the sense [...]

Some lovely affordable bottles from the Co-operative

Tasted at the Co-op press tasting on Tuesday. Some nice affordable wines, and one slightly pricier bottle.

Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014 Uco valley, Mendoza, Argentina
14% alcohol. This unoaked Malbec is just so lovely and drinkable. It has a floral violet and blackcurrant nose with some black cherries. So pretty on the palate with pure cherry fruit. [...]

On reading

If you are relatively smart, then the world can be an unhappy place, particularly during the teenage years. Smart people stick out. Many people are suspicious of smartness, if indeed they can detect it in the first place. This raises the question: do you have to be smart to realize that someone else is smart? [...]

Back to school, in a wine trade sort of way

The new term has started. After the excitement of Cape Wine (which I will not forget for a long time), it’s now back to the busy wine trade calendar. The next few weeks see the major supermarket press tastings (vital for those of us who have weekly national newspaper columns to populate), agency tastings, winemaker [...]

Ermita del Conde Albillo Centenario 2013

This is a superb, affordable Spanish white, made from a centenarian high-altitude (900 m) vineyard just outside (to the north east of) the Ribera del Duero DO. It’s made from the rare-ish Albillo Mayor grape variety, which is thought to be one of the parents of Tempranillo.

Ermita del Conde is a relatively new vineyard, established [...]