Chablis (3) fighting frost

Bougies in a vineyard

One of the main challenges in this northerly, continental region is spring frosts. These still cause considerable losses from time to time, and the 2016 and 2017 vintages were affected.

The Chablis winegrowers have resorted to a number of protective measures.

The first is burning stuff in the vineyard to raise the temperature. […]

Chablis (4) the Balade Gourmande (film)

Sunday was the Balade Gourmande in Chablis. It changes village each year, and this time the location was Maligny. The idea is that 600 people walk around the vineyards, stopping at regular intervals for a kind of staggered lunch.

The first stop is starter and Petit Chablis, the second a pre-main with Chablis, the third a […]

Chablis (2) the soils

Limestone and clay in Les Clos

Chablis is one of those regions where the soils are to the fore in discussions about the wine, but they are not the only factor determining the characteristics of the wine. It is soils in concert with aspect (which creates the microclimate) that shapes the wine quality here. But, […]

Chablis (1) an overview

I’m in Chablis, and it’s very exciting, because this is my first time here. I know: I should have been here before, but even though it’s slightly embarrassing, it’s a thrill to finally see what I have read so much about. I’m in an accelerated period of learning, visiting lots of producers and walking vineyards, […]

Eisenberg, Austria: home to elegant Blaufränkisch

Christoph Wächter

I met up with Christoph Wachter, who heads up the Eisenberg DAC group, to taste some wines from the region. The focus of the tasting was on a new initiative: the designation of villages within the broader Eisenberg DAC.

Eisenberg is part of Burgenland, in the south of Austria, and there are 515 ha […]

Blind tasting exam, MW style: what's it like?

Yesterday. I joined in a tasting session with two MW students who were doing a test practical paper. I’ve never done a tasting like this before, and to be honest, sitting down with 12 wines (all red in this case) and an accompanying set of questions is incredibly daunting, even for someone who tastes all […]

Is UK sparkling wine heading for a glut?

An article in the Guardian yesterday reported on how last year Brits drank a record 4 million bottles of English sparkling wine a year (aside: actually, I should probably call this British or British sparkling wine because there are a few vineyards in Wales, but it’s hard for anyone who has experienced the horror of ‘British […]

Two natural Italian wines from The English Winemaker

These two wines are made by Matt Gregory, wine merchant turned winemaker who has adopted the name ‘The English Winemaker’. I met him in Christchurch last year when I was hanging out with Theo Coles, who he’d been doing vintage with. They’re really interesting.

The English Winemaker Mascot 2018 Piedmont, Italy
This is an aromatic skin-fermented Muscat […]

Choosing a red wine list for Ramada hotels

Towards the end of last year, one of the fun jobs I had was working with the Ramada hotel chain to produce a red wine list. The idea was to recognize the international presence of Ramada across the many countries it works in, through a special red wine list (red is the brand colour of […]

Alternative Bordeaux (6) Dubourdieu: white wines, dry and sweet

Noble rot: ripe grapes infected with Botrytis cinarea

So far, in looking at alternative Bordeaux, I’ve explored organics and biodynamics, taken a tour around some of the less well known appellations, and also considered natural approaches to winemaking. But there’s another side to Bordeaux that needs exploring, and which is often neglected: the white wines. […]