Lunch at Mission E2 with some nice Californian wines

On Thursday I had lunch at one of London’s most exciting new wine destinations: Mission E2, the second venue from Sager & Wilde. It’s a beautiful space in a nicely converted railway arch near Bethnal Green tube station. Lots of dark wood, good natural light and a palm tree! The food was really good. I [...]

Gandolini 3 Marias, a brilliant Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo, Chile

Stefano Gandolini’s winery focuses solely on Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maipo Valley. This wine was new to me: nicely packaged, in a big heavy bottle, it made me a little wary. I was worried it was going to be very sweet, rich and quite alcoholic. What a nice surprise to pour it and find freshness, [...]

Two great own-label wines from Fortnum & Mason - Franken and Margaret River

You have to love the way Fortnum & Mason get the world’s greatest wine producers to make their own-label wines. Here are two such examples, which we drunk yesterday afternoon while judging the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards. They were superb. The judging was fun, too. Anthony Rose, Victoria Moore and I were [...]

Wakefield (Taylors) The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Back in 1969, Bill Taylor bought 440 acres of land on the banks of the Wakefield River, near Auburn in the Clare valley. At this time, the Australian wine industry was focused on making fortified wines. But Bill wanted to make great Cabernet to rival the top wines of Bordeaux.

Taylors (known in export markets [...]

La Petite Vigne Amazing Grace Cabernet Sauvignon, Franschhoek, South Africa

This wine is really impressive. It’s from a Franschhoek winery I was introduced to through a friend (the brother of owner and winemaker Kevin Swart), who also make wines under the Black Elephant label. This is an estate wine made in their home cellar from grapes grown on the property, which borders Chamonix. 10 000 [...]

Two Cabernets from Napa Valley: Silverado and Grgich Hills

I’ve only visited California’s most famous wine region – Napa Valley – once. But I was quite taken by the place. It’s actually a really good place to grow wine grapes, and makes some really superbwines. You can’t bash the wine region for the stylistic extremes and bad taste of some of the wineries, while [...]

Another serious Napa wine

So, after my good experience with Cain’s Five, here’s another serious Napa wine – this time, a varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, this was drunk, not tasted. It also passed the drained bottle test – after tasting it, I took it along to dinner at my friend Rob’s place (he’s a fellow Man City fan, btw), [...]

A memorable meal at Shimo, Healdsburg

Last night’s meal at Shimo, Healdsburg will live long in the memory. It describes its offerings as ‘modern steak’, and the steak we had was probably the best I’ve ever experienced.

Between five, we ordered two significant hunks of meat. A porterhouse (below), and a bone-in ribeye (above). They were prepared on the rare side of [...]

Another serious South African

This is a really superb Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. It’s beautifully put together with seamless structure and real purity of fruit. If I have one criticism of it, however, it is that it lacks a little soul – made very much in the international, placeless modern style, it delivers a great deal of pleasure [...]

Two classy Spanish reds

I’m painfully aware that while I’ve focused in-depth on Portugal, I’ve  neglected Spain. I’m sorry about that. In an attempt to begin to redress this balance, here are two rather classy high-end Spanish reds, in rather different styles.

Numanthia Toro 2007 Spain
From ungrafted old vineyards of 50 years and older. 14.5% alcohol. Dense with sweet, ripe [...]