Some thoughts on Minimum Unit Pricing of booze

Big news in the drinks trade yesterday, although this is less relevant to readers of this blog: Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) of booze has been ruled legal, and Scotland are going to roll it out.

It’s a big deal, because now this is legal (it was claimed by opponents that it broke EU competition law), it […]

Back at the IWC for some more wine judging

It’s Tranche 1 of the 2018 International Wine Challenge this week. [In case you are wondering why it’s 2018, not 2017, a couple of years ago an extra week’s judging was included in November in order to (1) take some of the pressure off the two-weeks’ judging process in April and (2) suit better the […]

Discovering new old varieties in southwest France with Plaimont

If a highly paid marketing consultant had come to Plaimont a decade ago, they might have given the following advice: give up on these difficult-to-pronounce, unusual grape varieties with their distinctive local flavours. Instead, plant the grape varieties that people know and love – Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Make fruity, approachable wines. […]

Rediscovering a love for Barolo

Two great recent experiences with Barolo, which I’ve struggled to love a lot in the past. I love the idea of Barolo, but I’ve often found the wines to be a bit too difficult, with firm drying tannins and no pleasure. Yet occasionally I have had the most sublime experience with this region. It’s very […]

A great lunch at Terroirs with lovely wines

It’s always good to lunch at Terroirs. The combination of the food, wine and the vibe in the place makes it one of my favourite stops in London. On Friday I popped in with a friend fresh off a plane from New Zealand and we lunched really well. Above: Burrata, Smoked Eel, and Chopped Raw […]

The new Las Palmas sherries from Gonzalez Byass

Popped into the cosy and wonderful Bar Pepito yesterday to try the new Las Palmas sherries from Gonzalez Byass, with Martin Skelton. This year’s selection, 2017, was made by Pedro Ballesteros MW. [You can read here about the year I was chosen to make the selection: it was a really interesting experience trying through lots […]

Vignes Préphylloxérique: a Tannat made from ungrafted vines planted in 1871

For the last few days I have been with Plaimont Producteurs in southwest France. They are a sizeable company who source from 5000 hectares of vines and make 38 million bottles of wine each year, from the appellations of Saint Mont, Madiran and Côtes de Gascogne. As well as making lots of good quality, characterful […]

Wine writing is drowning

Wine writing is in its death throes, and there’s not much that can be done about it. [If it’s not already dead, that is.]

Why? It is because it is drowning in the sea of content. [And here we’re talking content as in media, rather than a state of peaceful happiness.]

This is not because there aren’t […]

Visiting two excellent sake producers

On my recent Japanese trip I had a chance to visit two high-end artisanal sake breweries. It was really interesting, especially coming from a wine background, to see how sake is made.

Rice at various degrees of polishing

The sake making process begins with the polishing of rice. The amount of material removed is expressed in […]

Three from Melville, Santa Barbara County, California

Tried these three from Melville, in Sta Rita Hills (It’s no longer allowed to be Santa Rita Hills on the label, because of a complaint by a well known Chilean brand). Ron Melville was one of the first winegrowers in the region and farms 120 acres here.

Melville Estate Chardonnay 2014 Sta Rita Hills, California
14% alcohol. […]