Grower Champagne focus: the remarkable Gimonnet Oenophile 2005

I’m quite a Gimonnet fan, so I was delighted to find this in a wine shop in Reims at a sensible price. It’s just beautiful. 2005 isn’t the best ever Champagne vintage (it was actually quite tricky), but this wine has developed really nicely and is now at something approaching peak drinking I reckon, although [...]

The Wine Show: at last, wine on mainstream TV in the UK, but is it any good?

So, wine is on mainstream TV. A new series of 13 one-hour episodes has just started airing on prime time Sunday evening ITV4, and will be repeated the following weekend at an earlier slot on ITV. It’s called The Wine Show, and this evening on catch up I watched the first episode. The wine trade [...]

Judging at the International Wine Challenge, day 1

Yesterday was the first day’s judging at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). Taking place at the Oval Cricket Ground, which has been an excellent home to the challenge for the last few years, it’s a major operation with 20 tables of five judges working hard all day. This first week involves four days of sifting [...]

On belonging

For two weeks each year, around April, I’m reminded what it is like to go to work. Like normal people do. As in have a job. It’s the International Wine Challenge (IWC), and as a panel chair I’m there every day. I commute by train to Vauxhall station, and then wander down to the Oval [...]

A new laptop

When you write for a living, the tools you use matter. But ever since I’ve been a freelancer, I’ve skimped a bit on laptops. In part, this is because I have been a desktop guy, and so the laptop has just been for use on the road. So I’ve bought cheap netbooks, and the odd [...]

A life of wandering in a world of place

I have committed myself to a pretty brutal travel schedule this year, at least until the end of July. Since the end of January I’ve been in New Zealand, California and Portugal, and travel to California again tomorrow. Then it’s Prowein, then Bordeaux, South Africa, a gap for the International Wine Challenge, then Champagne, then [...]

The role of wine critics

Yesterday I began a series of write-ups from the Wine Writers’ Symposium, starting with Jay McInerney’s keynote. This was followed by a panel session with Eric Asmiov, Virginie Boone and Ray Isle, looking at the role of wine critics. Wine critics often like to claim objectivity in their assessments; that they can step aside from [...]

Jay McInerney on wine writing

‘This has become a special part of my life,’ says novelist Jay McInerney, referring to wine writing, his parallel career. McInerney’s keynote kicked off the 2016 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in an entertaining fashion. As you might expect of a novelist, he’s good with words.

Jay first got into wine when he had a job [...]

Twitter's powerful metrics - how can I use them?

Very interesting to see the sort of data you can now get from Twitter on the way people interact with your posts. These ‘analytics’ or metrics are very detailed. But how can I use them, other than to convince people who might want to hire me or pay for me to travel to nice places [...]

In the Napa Valley for the wine writers' symposium

I’m just on my way home after a week in California’s Napa Valley for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. It was my first time at this event, which was held at the spectacular Meadowood resort near St Helena. [Aside: Meadowood is truly remarkable. Luxurious, discrete, tasteful and one of the best places I've stayed.]