Four nice SA reds: Restless River, Pofadder, La Motte Syrah Viognier, Spioenkop Pinotage

A few interesting South African reds tasted together. I’d heard a lot about the Restless River, and didn’t quite know what to make of it: Hemel-en-Aarde is cool climate for Cabernet, and the wine is pretty distinctive. Pofadder is a known quantity: it’s a lovely expression of Cinsault, a variety that’s superbly adapted to the [...]

Cloudburst: the remarkable emergence of a cult Margaret River wine brand

Cloudburst is a really interesting and slightly controversial wine project in Margaret River. Interesting? Because the wines are so good. Controversial? Because of high prices, despite the lack of any track record.

Owner Will Berliner (above) wasn’t previously involved with wine, but has always loved plants. He studied plant biology and owned forests in the USA, [...]

Wakefield The Pioneer Shiraz and The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon

Wakefield, known in Australia as Taylors, are a leading Clare Valley producer, and they have recently begun making two very high-end wines: The Pioneer Shiraz and The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted the 2012 releases. These are very fine, expressive wines, not just relying on power and concentration. They are fermented in upturned barrels, which [...]

Penfolds Bin 707 1993

This is a wine I bought back in the 1990s from a UK supermarket for around £16 (it was on offer). How times have changed! Current releases are super-expensive. This isn’t supposed to be a great year for Bin 707, but it has aged very nicely, shedding the new American oak it was raised in, [...]

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 [...]