In Argentina (1) visiting the El Esteco winery in Cafayate

There’s something different about Argentina’s Calchaqui Valley. It’s the most northerly of the wine regions in Argentina, and it’s the highest. The light is a little clearer – startling, even. And the air has a certain quality. It feels remote, and even a bit frontier-like here. Cafayate itself is a small town, with a large […]

Thistledown The Vagabond Old Vine Grenache

Giles Cooke at Alliance wine is the dude behind this wine from Thistledown, which is a really beautiful expression of old vine McLaren Vale Grenache. It’s not showy, but just really elegant and with potential for development.

The Vagabond Old Vine Grenache 2016 Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale, Australia
14.5% alcohol. Single site, 80 year old dry grown […]

Black Chalk Classic 2015, a serious English sparkling wine

I’ve tried Jacob Leadley’s Black Chalk sparkling wines a few times now, and I’ve been really impressed. On this latest showing, I reckon this is one of the best UK sparklers out there.

Black Chalk Classic 2015 England
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with some barrel fermentation used for the base wines. This is really delicate […]

Video: visiting Masi, masters of appassimento

Masi are one of the leading wine producers in the Veneto region of northern Italy. They are specialists in appassimento, the process of drying freshly harvested grapes on racks for three months after vintage. During the drying process, sugars, flavour compounds and acidity are concentrated, and metabolic changes take place in the grapes that otherwise […]

Visiting Europe's first commercial tea plantation

A few weeks ago I was in Porto, and I joined fellow journalist Treve Ring to visit one of Europe’s first commercial tea plantations. It’s from Nina Gruntkowski and Dirk Niepoort, who have a tea import company called Cha Camelia, specialising in Japanese tea. Now they will be making their own tea from a quinta […]

Seven German Pinot Noirs

German Pinot Noir (known locally as Spätburgunder) can be quite wonderful, and of late seems to have been getting better. But Pinot is a tricky grape and it’s sensitive to terroir and yields, and results can be quite variable. I was sent these seven wines to try, all of which have retail representation in the […]

The fab Ensedune Malbec from Foncalieu, alongside a couple from Argentina

Foncalieu is a Languedoc-based coop with 650 member growers and has a turnover of €54 million. For the region, its production mix is unusually weighted towards white and rosé (both account for 50% of volume). It has launched a series of six reasonably ambitious, modern wines, of which this is one, made from young Malbec […]

A really good Chinese Pinot Noir: XiGu from Tianshui

Mihalis Boutaris, of Greece’s Kir-Yianni Estates, has been busy in China. He’s currently working on two projects there, one of which has led to this wine. It’s a vineyard in Tianshui. [The other is a vineyard in the Gobi desert near Ningxia.] Tianshui has relatively low growing-season rain compared with other areas nearby, and Mihalis […]

The 2016 vintage selection from the Gimblett Gravels, in New Zealand's Hawke's Bay

The 2016 vintage was a good one in the Gimblett Gravels. It was just a touch cooler than average (GDDs 1430 as opposed to an LTA of 1500), but it was a bit drier (growing season rainfall 340 mm versus an average of 463 mm). Since 2008 a selection of 12 wines has been made, […]

Wellington Wine Country (2) Ata Rangi, one of New Zealand's top wineries

Martinborough pioneer Ata Rangi is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated wineries, and so I was quite excited to be able to catch up with winemaker Helen Masters to taste through recent releases. Helen had just got back from the UK the day before, so it was very cool that she rocked up to conduct […]