Terroir: when soils trump climate

I’ve been embroiled in endless discussions about terroir in the past. And I mean endless. They quickly become unfocused, ideological and circular, with people talking at cross purposes. But it’s still such an interesting concept. And an important one: it lies at the heart of fine wine.

Here I just want to make one point. When […]

Wine writer buys wine! Shock! But which ones?

I had a case of wine delivered today. One that I paid for! Yes, occasionally we wine writers buy wine. Well, at least I do. Apart from anything else, a diet of samples (even good ones) isn’t healthy. How can you connect with readers who buy wine if you, as a writer, are never in […]

Video: the Nagano wine region, Japan

Here’s a brief video of my trip round the Nagano wine region:

Overview: Japan’s wine scene
Part 1, Kido Winery
Part 2, Domaine Nakajima
Part 3, Hyashi Nouen
Part 4, Kusunoki Winery
Part 5, Obusé Winery
Part 6, Manns Winery Komoro
Part 7, Villa d’Est Garden Farm and Winery
Part 8, Votano Wines
Part 9, Cantina Riezo
Part 10, Shinshu Takayama Winery
Nagano wine tasting and overall […]

Albariño series (2) Granbazán Etiqueta Ámbar 2016 Rías Baixas, Spain

The second wine in this series on Albariño, that wonderful grape from northwest Spain and Portugal, is another from Rias Baixas. This one is a bit of a surprise: I picked it up from Oddbins tonight on the way home, and it’s packed in a very old-fashioned way. But it delivers lovely flavours.

Granbazán Etiqueta Ámbar […]

Gamay 38, Maison Dominique Piron Fleurie 2016

This is a lovely expression of Fleurie, from Dominique Piron. I visited him in 2016, and was really impressed by the consistency and nice terroir expression of the wines. He’s based in Morgon, but also makes wines from other crus. I think this wine is a different bottling to his normal Fleurie (it has a […]

Nagano Wine Region: grand tasting and overall impressions

This was a chance to taste 28 of the leading wines from Nagano prefecture, which is one of the three main Japanese wine regions, and along with Hokkaido, is the one generating the most interest at the moment. This line-up reflects the varietal mix among the better producers (there are quite a few less expensive […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (10) - Shinshu Takayama Winery

The Takayama winery is an interesting project: it’s a collaboration between local vineyard owners (so in effect, a small co-op), with winemaker Eiichi Takano at the helm. He’s worked previously for Mercian, and has also experience in France. We visited with him and also Kazuaki Wajui, who is the director/president.

Eiichi and Kazuaki

The impressive winery […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (9) - Cantina Riezo

Yasuyuki Yumoto (above) is inspired by Italy. He has a lovely small winery and vineyard in the northern part of Nagano prefecture, and he decided that this would be a great place for northern Italian varieties. And he prefers reds to whites, so selected Dolcetto and Barbera as his key grapes. He also has Merlot, […]

Nagano wine region, Japan (8) - Votano Wine

Tsubota Mitsuhiro (above) was inspired by Barolo to start making wine: that’s a good starting point, I guess. He began his vineyard in 2001, and now has 1.3 hectares on one of the lower terraces in the Kikyougahara region with stony, alluvial soils. The vineyards are beautifully maintained, with a mix of pergola and vertical […]

A template letter for wineries responding to two-timing critics

As a public service, I’m providing a template letter for those wineries who want to escape abusive relationships with two-timing critics. If you are a winery and you find yourself in this regrettably common position, I hope you find it useful.

Dear (insert well known critic’s name)

It was lovely to host you last week at the […]