Grower Champagne focus: Marguet Shaman 12

Champagne Marguet is run by fifth generation Benoit Marguet, and is a small house/grower based in Ambonnay. They farm their vineyards biodynamically, and have 8 hectares altogether, 7.3 in Ambonnay (Les Saints Remys, Les Beurys, Les Crayères, La Grande Ruelle, Les Bermonts, Le Parc) and 0.7 hectares in Bouzy (Les Loges, Les Hannepés). In addition to [...]

Are we potentially much better at smelling than we realise? The curious case of androstenone

Androstenone is a smelly steroidal compound produced by pigs that is described as sweaty, urinous, and musky by those who can smell it. Depending on the version of the OR7D4 gene that you will have, you’ll experience androsterone as unpleasant, or sweet, or you might not smell it at all.

Kara Hoover and colleagues have looked [...]

63 Pall Mall: the exciting new wine shop from Berry Bros & Rudd

On Friday I went to the press tasting of high-end London retailer Berry Bros & Rudd, and it proved to be a great chance to check out their new retail outlet at 63 Pall Mall.

Previously, Berry Bros had a small retail space at 3 St James’ Street, which has been in operation since 1698. This [...]

Château Gruaud Larose 2000

Drinking this tonight. Whatever your preferences in wine, whether it’s for natural stuff, or new wave South Africans, or Kiwi Pinot, it’s always great to drink proper Bordeaux, picked at the right time (12.5% alcohol), from a good vintage, and given some bottle age. I’m enjoying this a lot. It’s not perfect: wine doesn’t have [...]

Kiwi gins and tonics: a comparative tasting

When I was in New Zealand in January, Hannah Burns of Craggy Range and I did an impromptu tasting of Kiwi gins. We tried the gins neat, and then in G&Ts with Quina Fina tonic. We also tried a range of tonics on their own. These are my notes.

Broken Heart Navy Strength Gin
57% alcohol. From [...]

Loire adventure: Clau de Nell, Anjou

Sylvain Potin and Christian Jacques

There’s an interesting story behind Anjou-based biodynamic winery Clau de Nell, which was the next stop on our Loire tour.

Christian Jacques was married to the late Anne Claude Leflaive, and in 2008 the pair purchased the struggling Clau de Nell domaine, initially with a view to running it with the [...]

On the need for recognition and approval

I remember that as a child I loved creating things. I spent hours drawing: pencils, felt-tip pens, and even drawing ink. I also loved sculpting things out of plasticine (famously used by Nick Park in his animated features) and clay. But each time I did something new, I needed it to be endorsed by someone [...]

Loire adventure: Vincent Carême, Vouvray

Vincent Carême

The drive from Montlouis to Vouvray took us past the famous troglodyte residences built into the tufa (soft limestone) cliffs that follow the Cher and Loire rivers. Here, homes and wine cellars have been built into caves that were created when limestone for building was extracted. They are quirky and wonderful.

For winegrowers who [...]

Loire adventure: the film

This is a film of our Loire Valley wine adventure. We started with a day in Paris, then we head to Sancerre, before working our way up the Loire to Muscadet. It’s such an interesting wine region, and we met some great people, and tasted and drank many memorable wines.

In this film we meet the [...]

Loire adventure: Taille aux Loups, Montois, with Jacky Blot

Amboise

The view from my bedroom window!

We finished our appointment at Puzelat and headed to Amboise. It was a beautiful sunny evening, and we were quite excited, because we were staying in a castle right in the middle of town. Nicole, who booked accommodation for the trip, is officially the queen of Airbnb, and [...]