Discussing sweet wines, with notes on 18 interesting bottles

Sweet wines aren’t all that fashionable, but they are delicious. The best sweet wines are among the most complex and concentrated expressions of the vine possible, and in past times they occupied the pinnacle of the fine wine tree. We’ve kind of neglected them of late, partly because in these alcohol-consumption-conscious days we seldom manage [...]

Half way in the International Wine Challenge

Week one of this second tranche of the 2017 International Wine Challenge is over. Except for the crew, that is: they have to stay the weekend doing the immense job of reflighting all the thousands of wines that have made the cut into week two.

When we get back to the Oval on Tuesday, we’ll be [...]

Beginning two weeks judging at the International Wine Challenge

I’m on my way to day 2 of the second tranche of the International Wine Challenge judging at the Oval. For two weeks we will be sifting through an unspecified number of wines (the number isn’t publicized because otherwise the two major competitions get sucked into a ratings war, but it’s in the range of [...]

Who decides the news agenda? The Internet?

A small story becomes a big story because of the Internet. The recent media frenzy over a passenger being removed from an overbooked United flight has been interesting to watch.

Back in the day, news rooms decided on the merits of a story. The editor edited. Now, the Internet can decide that a story is news [...]

Some profound(?) thoughts prompted by this Loire trip

Terroir is a creative act between people and a place. Terroir only exists in the context of a wine, and wine is a creative act as a winegrower seeks to interpret their place through choices they make in viticulture and winemaking.

Drinking wine is itself a creative act. We are given a sensory theme, and we [...]

The ultimate vodka martini at Dukes

After Friday’s lunch at Berry Bros & Rudd, Douglas Blyde persuaded Katherine Houston and I that we needed a vodka martini at Dukes. He was right. This was the best vodka martini possible, prepared by Alessandro Palazzi with his famous trolley service. Dukes, a grand old hotel in Mayfair, is described as the spiritual home [...]

Jay Rayner on the aesthetics of wine

The dangers of commenting outside your sphere of expertise were illustrated last week in a couple of tweets from food expert and restaurant critic Jay Rayner.

Ok, my personal taste is for wine that doesn’t taste of sweaty pig anus and mouldering grass clippings. I know. Picky, picky, picky.

a) I’ve had repeated lecturers (natural wine bores [...]

Incredible sweet wines, from Mullineux and Klein Constantia, including the 1875

In the space of one day I had the chance to try some mind blowing sweet wines, new and old. The first experience was at Klein Constantia. Back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Constantia estate made world renowned sweet wines. The estate was later split into three, but by this stage the production [...]

So you don't like natural wine? I sense your pain, and I am here for you

So you don’t like natural wine?

I sense your pain, and I am here for you. Here to help.

I can understand how distressing it must be to see other people enjoying wines that you don’t like. It is imperative that you take every chance to tell them that they are simply wrong. They may not listen, [...]

Day 1, ProWein

Day 1 at ProWein was a busy one. This wine trade fair, with 55 000 attendees, is huge. It’s daunting in scale, so you have to have quite a good plan about what you are going to do next, or else you can end up walking aimlessly through the cavernous halls, and gradually lose the [...]