A day in the Alsace vineyards

Looking to the Schlossberg vineyard

Today has been fabulous. I’m lucky to be travelling with some excellent companions: David Williams, Susy Atkins, Hamish Anderson and Emma Wellings. They are unlucky to be lumped with me.

We set off early for the impossibly beautiful village of Kientzheim, where Domaine Paul Blanck is located. I’m told that by [...]

In Alsace, my first visit

Very excited to be visiting Alsace for the first time. I haven’t been writing full-time about wine for all that long (4 years), so there are still a number of important wine regions I have yet to visit. So I am pleased to finally get the chance to see Alsace: I know and love the [...]

Hungary, Day 4, with the awards ceremony in Budapest


The last day of my Hungarian visit. I was in Budapest for the awards ceremony for the Pannon Wine Challenge.

I spent the morning catching up with Agnes Herczeg, CEO of Grof Buttler winery and MW student, and then it was off to the Gerbeaud, for a very grand awards ceremony and lunch. I had [...]

Hungary, Day 3, and a visit to lake Balaton

Tara Q Thomas and Wojciech Boknowski taking snaps of winning bottles

It is a measure, perhaps, of how good some of the wines in the Pannon Wine Challenge were that when the winners were unveiled at the end of tasting, the judges all crowded round with cameras and iPhones in order to photograph the winning [...]

In Hungary, day 2, and a visit to the Abbey Winery in Pannonhalma

Another full day of judging Hungarian wines. We spent the morning finishing tasting all 300 in our groups of three and then in the afternoon joined together, to retaste all the wines that had got through the cut.

John Szabo

It’s a great way of judging because we all get to taste all the good wines. [...]

In Hungary, day 1

I’m here in Hungary, judging the Pannon Wine Challenge 2012.

There’s a nice group of judges this year. Three panels, each led by Hungarians, with two international judges on each.


The local judges are Gabriella Mézáros, András Kató and László Romsics, and the international judges are Alder Yarrow, Tara Q Thomas, Isabelle Legeron, Wojciech Bonkowski, John [...]

Lunch with some interesting back-vintage South African wines

Higgo Jacobs, Richard Kershaw, Tim Atkin, Monty Waldin and Robin von Holdt

Some notes from the Top 100 South African Wines judges’ welcome lunch last Sunday, here at Rodwell House, St James.

It was a relaxed affair and Robin brought out quite a few older vintages of some rather good South African wines. A good start [...]

South Africa, day 3

Simon and Murray Barlow, Rustenberg

So the third and final day of my Stellenbosch visit. Next, I’m off to St James.

And it was another great day. First up, Rustenberg with Simon and Murray Barlow. A superbly consistent range of beautifully judged wines. New Ida’s Red is amazing value, and will be in the UK soon.

South Africa, day 2

Neil Ellis

Some great visits today. All in beautiful sunshine. Once again, pictures will have to suffice. Words will come later. The day began with a visit to Neil Ellis’ new cellar door. I like his wines a lot: they emphasize freshness and focus. I really liked his Pinotage, which was quite Burgundian. And he’s [...]

In South Africa, day 1


Tired, now, after a great first day in South Africa. I landed this morning, had a quick refresh, then hit the road. Too tired to do proper write-ups now, so a few pictures will have to do.

Christiaan and his worm farm

First visit, the fabulous Waterkloof, with Werner Engelbrecht and farm manager Christiaan Loots. [...]