One of the weaknesses of the growing degree day concept, and similar climatic indices

I remember back in my old job, when we had a scientific conference on the nature of intelligence. It’s a topic you approach with caution. Nature versus nurture? Genetics versus environment? Which wins?

One of the concepts that got me was that we assume that two kids living side by side would be exposed to a [...]

Wine experts needed for scientific study, central London

If you are wine expert in easy striking distance of central London, then there’s an experiment taking place on expert wine tasting and social interactions being run the University of London Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes). The goal of the experiment is to examine how people resolve uncertainty when they are tasting, [...]

José Vouillamoz on grape varieties, at MUST 2017

It was great to hear José Vouillamoz present at MUST. He’s a plant scientist with a special interest in grape varieties, and this was the subject of his talk. He began with the news that soon there will be a new edition of Wine Grapes, the reference book he authored together with Julia Harding and [...]

Are we potentially much better at smelling than we realise? The curious case of androstenone

Androstenone is a smelly steroidal compound produced by pigs that is described as sweaty, urinous, and musky by those who can smell it. Depending on the version of the OR7D4 gene that you will have, you’ll experience androsterone as unpleasant, or sweet, or you might not smell it at all.

Kara Hoover and colleagues have looked [...]

Is wine art?

The response of most people to the question, ‘is wine art?’ will be, ‘who cares?’ But I think it’s an interesting question, and it’s one that floated around in my mental space on a dog walk yesterday.

What is art? What is an art object? I recently had a look round a display of contemporary art [...]

Time to leave the biodynamic calendar behind? Wine tastes the same on fruit and root days

There’s been a lot of talk about the biodynamic calendar in the wine trade. At wine tastings, it’s not unusual for tasters to start muttering that the wines aren’t showing very well. Then someone whips out their smartphone. ‘I thought so!’ they proclaim. ‘It’s a root day.’

For those unfamiliar with the concept, I’m referring to [...]

Pedogenic lime in arid vineyard soils - how does it affect the flavour of wine?

When it comes to vineyard soils, limestone is all the rage. But there’s one source of limestone in vineyard soils that isn’t much talked about. It’s the slow formation of limestone in arid vineyard soils, known as pedogenic lime (and alternatively caliche and calcrete). I first encountered it in Central Otago, and then bumped into [...]

Domaine Leflaive's switch to DIAM

Celebrated Burgundy producer Domaine Leflaive have switched away from natural cork to DIAM for all their wines, beginning with the soon-to-be released 2014 vintage.

I was alterted to this news by a tweet from Neal Martin, and I spoke on the phone this morning with Adam Brett-Smith of exclusive UK agents Corney & Barrow, who confirmed [...]

Terroir: the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated

There’s a very interesting article on Jancis Robinson.com today, in which she reports on a recent Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) seminar on mineralogy. It deals with some very interesting issues. In her piece, she reports on Maltman’s talk, but I think she jumps to too-hasty a conclusion about its implications.

As geologist Alex Maltman [...]

Does organic wine taste better? A study whose findings have been widely misinterpreted

Are organic wines better than conventional ones? An interesting study from researchers at the University of California Los Angeles suggests that they might well be. However, the difference in point scores between eco-certified wines and conventional wines is actually much smaller than press reports on this study have stated, because they haven’t read the paper [...]