Day 2, in Madeira

Francisco Albuquerque and Chris Blandy

Day 2 of our Madeira visit began in the new Blandy’s cellars, which are located near the main Port, just past the airport. They’ve been moving most of their production here from the lodge in Funchal over the last few years simply because it’s much easier to work here, and [...]

In Madeira with Blandy's

I’m in Madeira. It’s my first time on the island. It’s quite a beautiful place.

Funchal

Tasting at Blandy’s wine lodge

The reason? To find out about Madeira wine, with the island’s largest producer, Blandy’s. Day one consisted of a tasting through the current commercially available range of wines, followed by a drive around the island [...]

Gamay focus 26, Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon 2015

Continuing on my quest to explore Gamay, I’m sticking with Beaujolais, and another of the newly released 2015s. This is a very highly regarded vintage in the region, but it was a big vintage, in terms of wine style. These are hairy-chested expressions of Bojo, and I’m not sure if it’s my favourite ever vintage, [...]

Grower Champagne focus: Vilmart et Cie Grande Reserve Premier Cru NV France

Vilmart makes some excellent Champagne. I’ve included them as a grower even though technically they aren’t because they source some grapes as well as relying on their own production, but for all intents and purposes, they fit with ‘grower Champagne’ best.

Champagne Vilmart et Cie Grande Reserve Premier Cru NV France
12.5% alcohol. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% [...]

Co-chairing at the International Wine Challenge Tranche 1

This week I have been judging in Tranche 1 of the 2017 version of the international Wine Challenge (IWC). After eight years as a panel chair, I’m now a co-chair along with Tim Atkin, Peter McCombie, Oz Clarke and Charles Metcalfe, and also new this year, Sarah Abbott.

Over recent years, some panel chairs have taken [...]

Some good value wines that impress

I’m aware that many of the wines I recommend here are quite expensive. So these are some wines that I’ve tried recently that represent excellent value for money. These are real stand-outs.

Château de Lascaux ‘Carra’ Pic St Loup, Languedoc, France
£13.99 Vintage Roots
14% alcohol
Organic. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Really fresh and well defined with lovely bright [...]

On flying

Flew back from Vancouver on Saturday night. The plane in the top left picture above is the ancient BA 747-400 that we were flying on, getting ready for boarding. The plane was creaking at the seams a bit: it had to abandon taxiing and return to the stand to have its electrics looked at. We [...]

Gamay focus 25, Julien Sunier Fleurie 2015

This Fleurie is from the ripe 2015 vintage, but Julien Sunier has fashioned a really detailed, relatively fresh wine here, and it’s delicious.

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2015 Beaujolais, France
13.5% alcohol. Lieu Dits La Tonne and Charbonnieres, 2.85 ha. Dense yet fresh and beautifully floral, meaty and spicy. There’s a sweetness here, from the vintage, but as [...]

Natural wines from Haywire, Okanagan Valley, Canada

I’ve been impressed by the wines from Haywire in the Okanagan Valley, in Canada’s BC. Based at the Okanagan Crushpad, where their team also makes wine for other people, they have been pioneers of interesting, geeky natural wines in a region that has often played it a little safe, as many emerging wine regions do. [...]

In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Coming out to Cornucopia in Whistler gave me a chance to visit Vancouver Island. I’ve not been here before, but I’d heard lots of good things about it.

So for the last few days I have been in Victoria, doing lots of drinks-related things.

On Monday I visited three breweries in Victoria with Brent Muller, of Vessel, [...]