Why the International Wine Challenge judging process is so rigorous: the co-chairs explain

So the two-week judging process of the International Wine Challenge (IWC) has finished. It has been hard work, but great fun, with a real sense of joint enterprise and community among the many judges who participated.

One of the reasons I’m proud to be associated with this competition is the rigour of the judging. Every wine [...]

Chapel Down Kit's Coty wines, including the £100 Coeur de Cuvée Draft

These are some new releases from Chapel Down, one of the UK’s largest wineries. Chapel Down make very good sparkling and still wines, and they fulfil an important function: they are big enough to supply supermarkets and chains, but they produce quality wines that are well made and accessible. But they are also ambitious, and [...]

Three interesting whites: Luis Pato, Cape Point and De Wetshof

Grabbed these three interesting whites from the rack for a bit of comparative tasting. The Luis Pato is amazingly fresh at 8 years of age, and will be good for another decade on this showing. The Cape Point is brilliant, and is testament to the skill of winemaker Duncan Savage, who is now concentrating on [...]

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Extra Brut Extra Old

This is a new wine from Champagne Veuve Clicquot, called Extra Brut Extra Old. With a dosage of 3 g/l this is the first release of an extra brut from this house (with the exception of some of the very limited Cave Privée releases). It contains six different vintages of reserve wines (1988-2010), aged for [...]

Is wine art?

The response of most people to the question, ‘is wine art?’ will be, ‘who cares?’ But I think it’s an interesting question, and it’s one that floated around in my mental space on a dog walk yesterday.

What is art? What is an art object? I recently had a look round a display of contemporary art [...]

Video: pruning a grape vine

A quick video of a grape vine being pruned a couple of weeks ago in the Coteaux du Giennois, in the centre Loire. It was late to be pruning: the vines had already started budding. This is single guyot pruning, leaving just one cane that is then tied down to the fruiting wire, which here [...]

The new releases from Château d'Esclans, star Provence winery

Tasted through the new releases from Sasha Lichine’s Château d’Esclans in Provence. This winery has been a remarkable success story because of its very smart strategy. High quality wines, with impeccable packaging and good marketing, starting with the multi-million bottle Whispering Angel and then leading up to the super-expensive Garrus. Rosé is the main story [...]

Half way in the International Wine Challenge

Week one of this second tranche of the 2017 International Wine Challenge is over. Except for the crew, that is: they have to stay the weekend doing the immense job of reflighting all the thousands of wines that have made the cut into week two.

When we get back to the Oval on Tuesday, we’ll be [...]

Eight decades of Kopke Colheita ports

After judging at the IWC on Thursday there was a chance to try some more wine. Normally after a busy day tasting hungreds of wines, the last thing I feel like is more wine. But these wines were different: eight Kopke Colheita Ports from 2007 back until 1937.

A Colheita is a tawny port from a [...]

The fab 2015s and 2016s from Alheit, one of South Africa's star producers

Chris Alheit and Franco Lourens

Chris and Suzaan Alheit’s story is one of discovering great vineyards, and then making wine from them, very simply (see my article from a visit three years ago, when they were just starting out). ‘I’ve spent innumerable hours looking on google earth and driving around, looking for the best sites,’ [...]