Some treats at 67 Pall Mall: Pignan, Montebello, Villard, Vazart Coquart

Had a lovely evening last night with a small group at 67 Pall Mall, the wine-friendly club that opened last year. It was my first time at 67 Pall Mall, and they seem to get most things right: the space is beautiful, the wine list excellent, the food spot on and the Zalto glassware just [...]

California, day 5, in Napa

The final full day of our California trip was a little less frantic than the rest of the itinerary, with just one lunch visit and one dinner visit. This left some time for important things like catching up on emails, sleep, and beer at Ana’s Cantina in St Helena (somewhere I’d spent quite a bit [...]

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 [...]

In California day 3, Sonoma with Iron Horse, Wind Gap and Arnot Roberts

Day 3, Sonoma County. This is one of the most important and diverse of California’s wine regions. We headed over to David Ramey’s cellar in Healdsburg for a regional overview tasting. In addition to David Ramey himself, the other winemakers present were Nate Weis (Silver Oak), Mike Sullivan (Benovia) and Andy Robinson (Seghesio). They took [...]

In California, day 2 - Paso Robles, and an amazing visit at Tablas Creek

Day 2. On the bus nice and early, and a drive up the coast to Paso Robles, a large wine region that’s half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and one that is struggling to find its identity, a bit like an angst-ridden teenager.

We began with an overview, and a tasting of eight wines [...]

California, day 1, in Santa Barbara County

Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills

I’m in California again. This time for a press trip, with some fellow UK journos: Oz Clarke, Anne Krebhiel, Jane Parkinson and Erin Smith. We arrived on Tuesday evening, and so yesterday, Wednesday, was our first full day. We spent it in Santa Barbara County, which is the [...]

Properly old vine Zinfandel: Precedent Evangelho Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

I’m  not a massive Zinfandel fan. It tends to make the sort of wines I dislike: very rich, jammy and obviously fruit dominated. But I’m open minded and I’ll always be curious to explore. I had a cracking Zinfandel a while back from Broc, and here’s another I really like. It’s made by Precedent Wine from a [...]

Lo-Fi Wines Cinsault 2014 Santa Barbara County, California

I was really taken by this. And especially by the label. It’s from Mike Roth, who was winemaker with Martian Ranch until 2014, and then launched his own label, Lo-Fi. I really like Mike’s mission statement, particularly about making wines that aren’t too expensive, so normal people can drink them. Some of the wines from [...]

Broc Cellars Vine Starr Zinfandel 2013 Sonoma County, California

This is a remarkable wine. It’s made from Zinfandel, which I admit to be a grape variety that I normally avoid. But this is a Zinfandel like no other. Weighing in at just 12.5% alcohol, it has the most amazing perfume and freshness. It’s truly beautiful, and I drank this happily over a couple of [...]

Video: harvesting and pressing Chardonnay in the Napa Valley, California

Here’s a video from last week’s trip to Napa. We got to take part in vintage, and this short clip shows harvesting and pressing Chardonnay grapes at Truchard Vineyards, Carneros. It’s really interesting to see the process first hand: just look at the colour of the juice that comes out of the press!