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 [...]

Some fine wines at Ellory, with Texier, Stephan, Foradori, Le Soula, Bosman

Had some lovely wines last night with Angela Jordaan and Thor Gudmundsson at the fabulous Ellory (thoroughly recommended: really good small plates style menu and excellent wine list). Here are my notes.

Bosman Optenhorst Chenin Blanc 2014 Wellington, South Africa
From vines planted in 1952, making this South Africa’s fourth oldest Chenin vineyard. Natural ferment, one-third in concrete, [...]

On beginnings and endings, and making sense of loss

Everything has a beginning; everything has an end.

There are beginnings of endings and endings of beginnings.

I’ve been thinking about these things for a while. A couple of weeks ago I was on Vancouver Island, sitting on a beach in Ross Bay, Victoria. It was a beautiful, still, late winter day, with milky sunshine just about [...]

Some new Torres wines, with Miguel

Miguel Torres was in town, to discuss Torres’ environmental concerns, and also to show some new wines. I have great respect for Mr Torres, who has made the environment and climate change a big focus for his company. It’s a real interest of his, and a couple of years ago I took part in an [...]

Elgin vintage experience 1, Iona

Werner Muller, winemaker Iona

The first day of my vintage experience in South Africa’s Elgin region was spent at Iona. I was with Werner Muller, the winemaker, for the day. Iona have three properties: the Iona farm itself, Brocha, and Langrug – all are quite different. Langrug is the first to be harvested and is [...]

First impressions matter, with people and with wine

First impressions count. I’m increasingly convinced of this.

The first line of a novel. It matters more than it should.

The first time you meet someone: this is particularly important.

The first impression you give when you meet someone – those first few seconds – then create the filter through which all subsequent interactions are processed. Some people [...]

What is greatness in a wine?

What is greatness in a wine? This was the subject of a session at the Pinot Noir symposium, where we were encouraged to discuss this question among ourselves. These are some of my thoughts.

We’re entering the realm of aesthetics here. Greatness is not simply one person’s preference. Nor is greatness the notion that a simple [...]