Could synthetic wines be interesting?

Would you be interested in a synthetic version of Grange that tasted identical?

Wine is a solution of lots of chemicals. The most expensive wines in the world sell for thousands of dollars a bottle. The difference between the world’s most expensive wines and the cheap wines most people consume regularly? Different chemicals. So, in […]

Domaine Gayda's Nine Vessel Tasting

Today, I attended a really interesting tasting looking at the effect of the ageing vessel on a red wine. It was hosted by Domaine Gayda, and titled a nine-vessel tasting.

Of late in the world of wine there has been a lot of interest in alternative elevage. In the past, wineries would traditionally use large concrete […]

Chablis (2) the soils

Limestone and clay in Les Clos

Chablis is one of those regions where the soils are to the fore in discussions about the wine, but they are not the only factor determining the characteristics of the wine. It is soils in concert with aspect (which creates the microclimate) that shapes the wine quality here. But, […]

Communicating climate change: the role of the wine industry in changing people's minds

Facts don’t change people’s minds. It’s really annoying, but it’s true. We like to think that if we marshal enough evidence, that eventually the weight of evidence will prove irresistible to people. Sadly, this isn’t the case.

Facts don’t change people’s minds, but stories do. Narratives are how we understand our place in the world. Throughout […]

Bad smells

A while back we had a cat. It originally belonged to Eric Clapton and we inherited it through a friend of a friend, and it was a nice cat, black and white with long hair and it was called Oswald, and we loved him and sometimes he loved us, with the indifference that cats are […]

Ambergris, a remarkable natural smell ingredient from whales

I’m obsessed by smells. It’s a good job because a large part of my job involves smelling things. Most commonly, fermented grape juice.

But for a long time I’ve been really interested in ambergris, ever since I heard about it as an exotic component of many perfumes. I’d read that this was an excretion from whale […]

Could we smell better? Much better?

Do we have only very limited access to the sensory information that we are receiving all the time? As a wine taster, I’m particularly intrigued that my senses are capable of detecting a lot more in wine than my conscious perceptions are alerting me to. Here’s a case study that does seem to suggest this.

In […]

We like the smell of geosmin in the air, but not in our wine

There’s a really interesting article on the BBC News site discussing why rain smells so good.

The smell of rain hitting the ground releases a smell that has been dubbed ‘petrichor’. It was named by Australian researchers in the 1960s, and the smell is produced by bacteria in the earth.

But here’s the twist that will interest […]

Terroir: when soils trump climate

I’ve been embroiled in endless discussions about terroir in the past. And I mean endless. They quickly become unfocused, ideological and circular, with people talking at cross purposes. But it’s still such an interesting concept. And an important one: it lies at the heart of fine wine.

Here I just want to make one point. When […]

Are anti-cork sentiments softening in New Zealand and Australia?

One thing I’m noticing in Australia and New Zealand of late: the growing number of producers using cork for high-end bottlings.

This would have been unthinkable five years ago, such was the strength of the reaction against cork, with its problems of variability and taint. Since 2000 in Australia and 2001 in New Zealand, there has […]