In the Ahr Valley, Germany, home to some great Pinot Noir

I’ve spent the last day and a half in the Ahr Valley in northern Germany. It’s my first visit here. This is a small, compact region that’s a tight valley with vineyards on either side, many of which are incredibly steeply sloped. The predominant soil type is slate, and this is Pinot Noir country. I [...]

Andrew Nielsen and Le Grappin, a talented Burgundy micronegoce

Website: http://www.legrappin.com/

Lots of people, it seems, have vinous epiphanies. They drink a special bottle of wine, and suddenly they are converted. Wine is no longer just an alcoholic drink for them; it is something more fundamental. For some, it becomes their life.

Andrew Nielsen (above), originally from Australia, was working in advertising with publications such as [...]

The stunning 2013 releases from Kutch

These were very smart indeed. Jamie Kutch has a good story, and I reckon his 2013s are his best wines yet. My feeling is that they’re a bit more elegant and pure than previous releases (even though previous releases were pretty smart wines). I don’t know whether this is because of a stylistic evolution, or [...]

The Portuguese Pinot Noir, Quinta de Sant'Ana

Pinot Noir? From Portugal?

With so many of its own grape varieties to focus on, you’d think Portugal has little to gain from trying to make Pinot Noir. But why not? If the climate and soils are there for making serious Pinot, it’s worth a go. Pinot rocks, after all. It’s especially worth a go if [...]

A couple of wines from Jane Eyre, an Aussie in Burgundy

Jane Eyre is an Australian winemaker who first did vintage in Burgundy back in 1998 as a bit of work experience.

It’s an interesting story. She was working as a hairdresser, and one of her clients was the wife of Aussie wine critic Jeremy Oliver, which opened the door for her to go to work in [...]

New releases from Aussie star Shaw & Smith

I’ve reviewed the wines of Shaw & Smith before, here and here. I got to taste some of the latest releases, and I’m once again pretty impressed. The Sauvignon Blanc pays the bills for the other wines. The Chardonnay is probably the true star in the line up, but everything’s good here.

Shaw & Smith Pinot [...]

Burgundy and Rhone, Cathiard and J-L Grippat

Met for pre-dinner drinks with Raj Parr and his cousin Prerna at 28-50 yesterday. Two bottles between three before dinner wasn’t a smart idea, but they were super wines. The Cathiard is, as you might expect from the producer and vintage, a big expression of red Burgundy – ripe and rounded. The Jean-Louis Grippat was [...]

Lunch with two great South African wines, and a good northern Rhône

Had a lovely long lunch yesterday. It was at Bread Street Kitchen, part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, located next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The dining room is huge. Really huge. Impressively huge. It’s beautifully finished in a faux vintage, semi-industrial style, but it’s really noisy. We could hardly hear the waitstaff as they talked to [...]

Some highlights from the Waitrose Press Tasting

We wine journos are in the middle of press tasting season at the moment, with all the major supermarkets showing off their ranges. Buying standards for UK supermarkets are very high, but what makes life difficult for the buyers are their margin requirements, especially in the days of 25% off entire range special offers. So [...]

Fine wines with lunch, old-school wine trade style

These wines were recently tasted at a rather fine lunch at La Trompette, which is a great restaurant. It went on a long time, as you can imagine. I’m always struck by how well older bottles of top Bordeaux show in these situations, and how inconsistent red Burgundy can be. And the Rhône can be [...]