A lovely South African Chardonnay, and a top Champagne

I have been judging wines at Tranche 1 of the International Wine Challenge this week. The idea is, for the first time, to split judging into two sessions: the customary April two weeks, plus an additional week in November. This helps with southern and northern hemisphere wineries releasing wines at different times.

But I wanted to [...]

Lunch with Pol, Cloudy, Lapierre, Jamet, Clair and Bachelet

Popped round for lunch at brother-in-law Beavington’s pad yesterday, which usually means that between us we’ll have something decent to drink. (In the process, I also very nobly assist him with his cellar over-stock issues.) All the wines showed really well yesterday.

Champagne Pol Roger NV France
This is showing really well: toast, peach and nuts, together [...]

Canada's finest? Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Norman Hardie

On my recent trip to Canada, one of my favourite experiences (of many good ones) was visiting Norman Hardie in Prince Edward County. He’s making some brilliant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and so I was delighted to find out that The Wine Society are bringing in a couple of his wines. They’ve chosen very well: [...]

Impressive new wines from Tasmania's Tolpuddle Vineyard

Very excited to be able to try these two new wines. They are a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay from Tasmania’s Tolpuddle vineyard, and represent the first vintage to be released under the new owners, Shaw & Smith.

In 2011 Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith bought the 20 hectare vineyard, which had been planted in [...]

Two super Australian Chardonnays: Oakridge and Yalumba

Australian Chardonnay is probably the wine style that has changed most in the last decade. The best examples are totally brilliant, and while I still have a nostalgic fondness for the big bad-assed rich examples of the past, the new super-lean Chardonnays with their mineral tension are just so good. Aussie Chardonnay went on a [...]

Canada, the final day

Hidden Bench

While it is still fresh in my mind, I must finish my series of Canadian-themed blog posts by summing up the final day. Actually, this post encompasses Saturday and Sunday morning, which more or less merged into one, in an exhausting but fun fashion.

Let me begin with the lunch at Hidden Bench winery, on the Beamsville [...]

Friday night at the i4c, Canada, hit by storms

Friday night saw the official start of the i4c (international cool climate chardonnay conference). This was titled ’8 chefs, 8 grills’ and was held at Hillebrand winery in Niagara.

The walk around tasting began well, in the early evening sunshine. But soon some epic thunderclouds rolled in, and before long we had to evacuate indoors. There [...]

Two fantastic Chardonnays from Yabby Lake

Just tried these two brilliant Chardonnays from Tom Carson at Yabby Lake. Two more examples of the amazing revolution in Aussie Chardonnay that has taken place over the last few years.

Yabby Lake Vineyard Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Strongly mineral nose with mtachstick, citrus and pear. The palate is taut and lean with citrus, pear, [...]

Lunch at Arbutus with Marimar Torres

Had lunch today with Marimar Torres and her daughter Cristina at Arbutus, in Soho. It was my first visit to Arbutus, and I loved the food, although the dining room is noisy and quite basic. The food is serious, and much better than the environment. I had warm, crisp pig’s head with potato puree and [...]

Day 3 in South Africa, and a slice of history

My third day in South Africa was a memorable one. A day on which I learned a great deal, and developed a healthy respect for the history of wine here.

It is so easy to be obsessed by the exciting new things that are going on in this wine country, at the expense of recognizing good stuff [...]