On pens and writing

I have decided to resurrect my ink pens, which have been a bit neglected of late. Instead, I’ve taken the easy option and used Uni-ball Eye Fine pens, which are pretty good and very easy to write with, but they aren’t ink pens.

There’s something special about writing long hand. It’s massively inefficient. You’d think it [...]

Wines of the year (1) Instagram favourites

How do you decide which your favourite wines were from the year past? Difficult.

One way is to let others decide. I have quite a few instagram followers, and it’s interesting to see which wines that I post are the most popular.

There are lots of confounders here. If I post a nice picture that looks good [...]

Oh, the places you'll go! 2016 in review

January: the year began in New Zealand, for a South Island Road trip, followed by the Sauvignon Blanc celebration. We started off in Central Otago, where it was unseasonably cold. Rippon is pictured above.

North Canterbury provided some highlights. including Pyramid Valley (above) and Bell Hill (below).

February saw the Professional Wine Writers’ Symposium in Napa, California. [...]

The ill-health of wine writing

It’s not been a great year for wine writing. Several fellow writers have lost their newspaper columns and regular gigs. It has been particularly tough for those who rely solely on writing for their living; for many like me who have had quite a good year, it has been the lecturing, judging, consulting, presenting and [...]

On being ill

I’m currently ill. This is unusual for me: I can’t remember the last time.

Of course, I haven’t seen a doctor. I’m male and British, and we tend not to visit doctors unless we are clearly dying. I’m not dying [I think, and hope]. I have a really bad chest and I’m coughing a lot, and [...]

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, [...]