Back in South Africa

So I’m back in South Africa. For the next few nights I’m staying in the lovely town of Stellenbosch in the lead-up to Cape Wine 2018, the tri-annual celebration of South Africa’s dynamic wine community.

It’s great to be back here. I’m feeling a little jet-lagged. I flew in from New Zealand on Friday morning, then […]

Some wines are just win

Of many wines there is nothing to be said. They are just wine. It’s foolish to say anything more about them, but still some people try.

The world needs good cheap wine. When I was a kid, we used to go camping in the south of France and Spain, and there was a lot of […]

On jealousy

Jealousy is one of the ugliest of emotions. A quote, popularly attributed to Gore Vidal, reads thus: ‘It is not enough to succeed; others must fail.’ That sort of professional jealousy, common in the media, isn’t very nice. It raises its head at award ceremonies, and when one of your colleagues releases a new, positively […]

A lovely orange wine from Vermont: Iapetus Tectonic

I met Ethan Joseph of Iapetus Wine in Nova Scotia last year, and recently again with Nathan Kendall in the Finger Lakes. He gave me a bottle of his orange wine, made with hybrid grape La Crescent, fermented on skins. This shows lovely character and personality. Ethan is winemaker at Shelburne Vineyard in Vermont, which […]

Les Tourelles de Longueville 2013 Pauillac, tasted on camera

How does a second wine from a vintage widely regarded to be the worst of the decade shape up? I taste the Tourelles 2013 and discuss this question. And should wines be rated relative to their peer group, or should reviewers attempt, as best as they can, to give an absolute score across all styles […]

Separating out the wine and the experience of the wine

There is the wine, and there is the experience of the wine.

As writers and critics, when we assess wine, we try to do something unusual. We separate the two, and we try to assess the wine independently of all the things that go on around the wine, and for most people help create the experience […]

Tips from a frequent flier

I fly a lot. I’m just about to get on another flight, this time to Hong Kong, via Munich on Lufthansa. Although I occasionally get treated to premium cabins, much of my flying is at the back of the plane. In fact, given the frequency with which I fly, I reckon I’d be quite high […]

Should wine scores be absolute?

Another article about wine scoring! It’s such a tedious topic, I know, but it’s an important one. Let’s recap:

Scoring is flawed but it is useful. A tasting note without a score doesn’t tell us how the wine stacks up. If I give a score and you are familiar with my scoring patterns, you can tell […]

Commercializing social media, and being honest with readers

The landscape of wine writing has changed quite a bit since I first started earning money writing about wine. [This is a subject I’ve written about before here and here.]

When I started out there were quite a few people making a good professional salary writing about wine. Several writers had specialist columns in newspapers that paid […]

What makes for a healthy, dynamic wine region?

I’m just preparing for a seminar on The New Faces of Beaujolais, and it has got me thinking about what it makes to create a healthy, dynamic wine region?

As wine journalists, we can be a bit obsessed by the novel, or people working at the boundaries. Does this distract us from recognizing and celebrating the […]