In NZ day 2, Ostler, Waitaki Valley

After leaving Central Otago, we drove to a wine region that I’d never visited before. It’s New Zealand’s newest and probably smallest wine region, the Waitaki Valley. A few years ago, people were getting very excited about Waitaki, largely because of the promise of limestone soils and a cool climate. Some of that excitement has [...]

In NZ, day 2: Prophets Rock, Central Otago

Day 2 of this short visit to Central Otago began with Paul Pujol at Prophets Rock. This was an amazing visit. I’ve met Paul and tasted his wines a number of times, and this – my first time in the vineyard – confirmed to me that this is one of Central Otago’s top 2 or [...]

New Zealand, day 1: Burn Cottage and Two Paddocks, Central Otago

Two more visits on the first day in Central Otago. Burn Cottage is an interesting project. It was started by American Marquis (pronounced Marcus) Sauvage, and he hired a stellar team of Ted Lemon (consultant) and Claire Mulholland (winemaker) to oversee it. It’s a 27 hectare property with 10.2 hectares of vines, on the border [...]

In New Zealand, day 1: Wanaka, Central Otago - Maude and Rippon

I’m back in Central Otago, for my fourth visit. I’m slowly beginning to understand a little about this remarkable wine region, and yesterday saw a lovely set of visits to four different producers, all of whom are doing something quite special. I’ll write the day up in two batches, beginning with a morning in Wanaka.

Wiston Estate Cuvée Rosé NV England - impressive pink fizz

I was very impressed by this pink English sparkling wine. It’s a non-vintage blend made by Dermot Sugrue. It’s 50% Pinot Noir (about 12% of this is red wine for colour), 40% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. Base wines are mostly stainless steel fermented, but there are some old barrels used, too. The base vintage [...]

Brancott Estate Chosen Rows 2013, and a recap on the 2010

Brancott Estate’s Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc is the result of their desire to make a high-end Sauvignon. I’ve been following this since its inception. Back in 2009, then chief winemaker with Montana (which is now Brancott) Jeff Clarke came to London to present a tasting of high-end Sauvignons from around the world, and to tell [...]

Three lovely wines: Testalonga, Commando G and Domaine Labet

Had lunch at Moro today with Emily Harman and Laura Rhys. Mark Andrew was supposed to join, but he had to fill in for someone at Noble Rot, so after lunch we headed down to meet him there. Moro: the food is amazing, always, and it didn’t disappoint today. And between Moro and Noble Rot [...]

Mark Haisma's 2014s

Mark Haisma, Aussie ex-pat Burgundy micro-negoce showed his new releases yesterday. Here are my notes. As usual, please treat these scores as a very approximate indication of how much I liked the wines: they are baby wines and it’s hard to be precise at this early stage. He’s expanded his range to take in some [...]

A remarkable tasting of sake

This was a remarkable evening, and my first exposure to high quality sake. It was at the Selfridges pop-up sake bar – billed as the world’s smallest, with just 6 seats. The sakes were chosen by famous Japanese footballer Hidetoshi Nakata, who, after retiring in 2006, has developed his passion for the drink (in the [...]

The race to the bottom

An observation. Not backed by firm data, admittedly, but an observation of a trend in the UK’s wine market. There seems to be a race to the bottom, and it’s not good for wine, or wine producers.

First, let’s clarify: in our discussion we need to segment the marketplace appropriately. Fine wine is doing well. Interesting [...]