In Madeira with Blandy's

I’m in Madeira. It’s my first time on the island. It’s quite a beautiful place.

Funchal

Tasting at Blandy’s wine lodge

The reason? To find out about Madeira wine, with the island’s largest producer, Blandy’s. Day one consisted of a tasting through the current commercially available range of wines, followed by a drive around the island [...]

Co-chairing at the International Wine Challenge Tranche 1

This week I have been judging in Tranche 1 of the 2017 version of the international Wine Challenge (IWC). After eight years as a panel chair, I’m now a co-chair along with Tim Atkin, Peter McCombie, Oz Clarke and Charles Metcalfe, and also new this year, Sarah Abbott.

Over recent years, some panel chairs have taken [...]

Some good value wines that impress

I’m aware that many of the wines I recommend here are quite expensive. So these are some wines that I’ve tried recently that represent excellent value for money. These are real stand-outs.

Château de Lascaux ‘Carra’ Pic St Loup, Languedoc, France
£13.99 Vintage Roots
14% alcohol
Organic. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Really fresh and well defined with lovely bright [...]

On flying

Flew back from Vancouver on Saturday night. The plane in the top left picture above is the ancient BA 747-400 that we were flying on, getting ready for boarding. The plane was creaking at the seams a bit: it had to abandon taxiing and return to the stand to have its electrics looked at. We [...]

Brand familiarity, quality and the mac and cheese metaphor

Yesterday’s Kayra tasting raised an interesting question.

In 2006, winemaker Daniel O’Donnell finds himself in charge of one of Turkey’s most popular wine brands, Buzbag. As a winemaker, surely it’s his job to make this wine ‘better’. He says that hygiene standards weren’t the highest, and the wine comes from Eastern Turkey, where for religious reasons, [...]

You don't have to be the best: you just have to be famous

In a field like athletics, the recipe to success is clear: be the best. Being the best is quantifiable. If you run faster, throw harder or jump higher, no one can dispute that you deserve your position at the top.

When it comes to other fields, often it is trickier to quantify performance.

Take wine writing, as [...]

Responding to a reader's comment on excessive travel and narrow scoring

I had an interesting comment on my blog a few days ago, and I’ve been mulling it over. If anyone takes the trouble to comment at length like this, and offer opinions, then I should be listening. And I am. Here it is:

Dear Jamie
I have been mulling over this for a while… but I think [...]

In Paris, in the rain

Spent a day in Paris on the way to Provence. Drank some wine, ate oysters, and generally walked around. Paris is unique. One of my favourite films is Midnight in Paris, by Woody Allen. Watch the opening scenes: it’s basically just a three-minute string of scenes from the city, accompanied by Sidney Bechet’s Si tu [...]

Video and pictures: Elgin from the air

Here’s a short film and some pictures from my gyrocopter flight over Elgin with Ian Corder. It was an amazing experience. But gyrocopters are tiny and it was a little bit scary. Thankfully Ian is a safe pilot.

Pictures:

Lothian

 

Almenkerk

Elgin Ridge winery

The currently roofless Iona winery

Iona, house

Iona

Ian Corder

 

We have the wrong map: how false directions impede our search for happiness

A while ago I posted on happiness, and in the short essay I mentioned that one reason people might be unhappy is that they have false beliefs about how happiness might be attained.

I am walking along a London street. I am approached by a tourist. She speaks good English, but they are clearly lost. I’m [...]