Washington wines on the world stage: a seminar looking at Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon

This was an interesting tasting that attempted to put Washington State’s wines in context by blind tasting them with some stiff international competition. We tasted double blind, although in each flight the first wine was sighted, and from Washington State.

Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars led the tasting. He was an MS (master sommelier) in the [...]

In California, day 4 - Napa Valley with Peter Michael, Corison, Trinchero, Silverado and Chimney Rock

Les Pavots, Kinghts Valley

Day four of the California trip. By now, the group was certainly performing, and this was to be one of our strongest days in terms of banter and general foolery. Of course, we were utterly professional. But bus banter is so important for a trip like this, and everyone played their [...]

Some wine highlights so far from Napa

Over the last few days we’ve tasted quite a few wines. It seems a bit unfair to pick favourites, but here are is a personal selection of some highlights.

Antica Townsend Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Atlas Peak, Napa
This is from the Foss Valley, which is a valley in the Atlas Peak AVA above Napa Valley, at [...]

Four nice SA reds: Restless River, Pofadder, La Motte Syrah Viognier, Spioenkop Pinotage

A few interesting South African reds tasted together. I’d heard a lot about the Restless River, and didn’t quite know what to make of it: Hemel-en-Aarde is cool climate for Cabernet, and the wine is pretty distinctive. Pofadder is a known quantity: it’s a lovely expression of Cinsault, a variety that’s superbly adapted to the [...]

Cloudburst: the remarkable emergence of a cult Margaret River wine brand

Cloudburst is a really interesting and slightly controversial wine project in Margaret River. Interesting? Because the wines are so good. Controversial? Because of high prices, despite the lack of any track record.

Owner Will Berliner (above) wasn’t previously involved with wine, but has always loved plants. He studied plant biology and owned forests in the USA, [...]

Wakefield The Pioneer Shiraz and The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon

Wakefield, known in Australia as Taylors, are a leading Clare Valley producer, and they have recently begun making two very high-end wines: The Pioneer Shiraz and The Visionary Cabernet Sauvignon. I tasted the 2012 releases. These are very fine, expressive wines, not just relying on power and concentration. They are fermented in upturned barrels, which [...]

Washington State wine, day 1

So, the first full day of my adventures on the Washington Wine route has ended. I’m travelling with a jolly band – Richard Hemming, Treve Ring and Kate Sweet, and we have a full itinerary that should allow us to get a real feel for this region. We began in the city, and nearby Woodinville, [...]

Penfolds Bin 707 1993

This is a wine I bought back in the 1990s from a UK supermarket for around £16 (it was on offer). How times have changed! Current releases are super-expensive. This isn’t supposed to be a great year for Bin 707, but it has aged very nicely, shedding the new American oak it was raised in, [...]

Lunch at Mission E2 with some nice Californian wines

On Thursday I had lunch at one of London’s most exciting new wine destinations: Mission E2, the second venue from Sager & Wilde. It’s a beautiful space in a nicely converted railway arch near Bethnal Green tube station. Lots of dark wood, good natural light and a palm tree! The food was really good. I [...]

More new California highlights

So, as promised, some more highlights from Tuesday’s New California tasting.

Matthiasson Napa White 2012 Napa Valley, California
A curious blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Semillon and Tocai Friulano that really works. Floral and pretty with aromas of herbs, tea, spice, grapes and melon. The palate is fresh, pure and detailed with nice finesse, and flavours [...]