In Cape Town, the first evening: Meerlust, Villiera, Mossop and Nuy

I’m in Cape Town. I’ve come to judge the Top 100 South African wines competition, which is now in its sixth year. This year, for the first time, we’re not at Rodwell House (it has been sold), so I’m staying in Vredehoek, on the outskirts of the city. It’s a pretty place, and last night [...]

In the Tejo region of Portugal

I’ve spent the day in the Tejo region of Portugal. I left my hotel at 0745 and arrived back past 11 pm. During that time I visited six producers, had lunch, and had dinner, so there was no free time and I have only enough energy left for a quick blog post. With some pictures.

The [...]

Bordeaux: some reflections

I’ve just spent a very enjoyable couple of days in Bordeaux. The first was a free afternoon (I walked and walked), followed by dinner; the second a big tasting of the 2014 vintage. So here are some thoughts about Bordeaux, in no particular order.

First, this is a lovely city to visit. The changes enacted under [...]

Visiting Château Marquis d'Alesme, Margaux, for the opening of a grand winery

Last night I was one of a group who visited Château Marquis d’Alesme on the occasion of the opening of their new winery in Margaux.

The winery

The estate, which has 15 hectares of vines, was bought by Hubert Perrodo in 2006. Perrodo, a French national, built up a successful petrochemical company (Perenco), of which he [...]

In California, day 4 - Napa Valley with Peter Michael, Corison, Trinchero, Silverado and Chimney Rock

Les Pavots, Kinghts Valley

Day four of the California trip. By now, the group was certainly performing, and this was to be one of our strongest days in terms of banter and general foolery. Of course, we were utterly professional. But bus banter is so important for a trip like this, and everyone played their [...]

In California day 3, Sonoma with Iron Horse, Wind Gap and Arnot Roberts

Day 3, Sonoma County. This is one of the most important and diverse of California’s wine regions. We headed over to David Ramey’s cellar in Healdsburg for a regional overview tasting. In addition to David Ramey himself, the other winemakers present were Nate Weis (Silver Oak), Mike Sullivan (Benovia) and Andy Robinson (Seghesio). They took [...]

In California, day 2 - Paso Robles, and an amazing visit at Tablas Creek

Day 2. On the bus nice and early, and a drive up the coast to Paso Robles, a large wine region that’s half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and one that is struggling to find its identity, a bit like an angst-ridden teenager.

We began with an overview, and a tasting of eight wines [...]

California, day 1, in Santa Barbara County

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

I’m in California again. This time for a press trip, with some fellow UK journos: Oz Clarke, Anne Krebhiel, Jane Parkinson and Erin Smith. We arrived on Tuesday evening, and so yesterday, Wednesday, was our first full day. We spent it in Santa Barbara County, which is the [...]

In Porto for Simplesmente Vinho 2016

I’m in the lovely city of Porto, northern Portugal, for Simplesmente Vinho 2016. Held over this weekend at the Convento Monchique, an impressive run down Manueline building that is in the first stages of being restored, it’s a two-day festival of small, authentic wines combined with food, art and music.

60 producers are attending this [...]

In New Zealand, day 1: Wanaka, Central Otago - Maude and Rippon

I’m back in Central Otago, for my fourth visit. I’m slowly beginning to understand a little about this remarkable wine region, and yesterday saw a lovely set of visits to four different producers, all of whom are doing something quite special. I’ll write the day up in two batches, beginning with a morning in Wanaka.