Cain Five 2004: a serious Napa Bordeaux blend

I have a soft spot for Cain. It was the first winery I visited in Napa Valley (fairly recently, actually) and I was impressed by the thoughtful approach of Chris Howell. Cain ‘Five’ refers to the fact that the wine contains all five Bordeaux red grapes, and it’s an elegant, rather European-styled wine, made from [...]

Grape juice concentrate and Mega Purple

Grape juice concentrate is a controversial topic in winemaking. It’s widely used, but people don’t really like to talk about it, because it sounds a bit like cheating. It’s a brave winemaker who shows journalists this widely used trick of the trade. Normally, it’s kept hidden away.

Most controversial of all is a substance called Mega [...]

Back from California

I returned home from my all-too-brief California trip on Friday. Mercifully, the effects of jet-lag have been minimal this trip. I slept through every night while I was there, and have slept through since my return. I’ve not needed to go to bed early, either. My only conclusion is that tiredness + a reasonable dose [...]

Some more Sonoma pics

On my way home now, but here are some more Sonoma pictures. The light was just so good this week.

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 [...]

An afternoon in Sonoma wine country

Yesterday afternoon was fun, with two contrasting winery visits. Scott Burr, my host, arranged two appointments, on a gloriously bright spring day. On the one hand, Kenwood: a relatively large winery in the Sonoma Valley (production – 500 000 cases), and on the other, Benovia, a boutique operation producing 4000 cases.

Both were very good. Pat [...]

10 lovely US wines with dinner at Willi's Wine Bar

Some very nice wines at Willi’s Wine Bar here in Santa Rosa last night. It’s an interesting place: they offer wine in a range of measures, including 2 oz tasting pours, which makes it possible to try quite a number over the course of an evening. Our 2 oz pours seemed quite generous, with more [...]

Super Sonoma Pinot: Patz & Hall

We don’t see enough decent Californian wines here in the UK. This is a really impressive Pinot Noir from Sonoma that I really enjoyed.

Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007 Sonoma, California
14.2% alcohol. This is the entry level wine in Patz & Hall’s portfolio of Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but it’s really good. A [...]

Photos from Napa

Just posted my pictures from California’s Napa Valley on the photo section of wineanorak.com. It’s a beautiful place in autumn when the sun is out. I’ve just finished an article for The Drinks Business on my Napa trip back in November, focusing on how the region is rediscovering its roots: forget about all the cult [...]

Two contrasting Rhone-style wines from California and Australia

Two rather different takes on the Rhone here, one tending towards old world elegance; the other, unashamedly ripe and new world in style. They’re both from UK supermarket (or, to be technically correct, department store) Marks & Spencer, made for them by famous winegrowers. My preference is for the Bonny Doon, but I can see [...]