10 Californian Pinot Noirs that will blow your mind

It’s official. California is exciting place for Pinot Noir, and there is now now shortage of elegant, detailed, supple, world class Pinot Noir here, if you look in the right places. The In Pursuit of Balance tasting held in San Francisco in March 2014 showcased the top Pinot Noirs from California, and from the many [...]

Drinking California Pinot Noir history

On Sunday night I was lucky enough to drink two wines that are important bottles in the story of Pinot Noir in California. I was with Raj Parr, Sashi Moorman, Jasmine Hirsch and Jamie Kutch at Zuni, and these remarkable wines were brought out. It was an immense privilege to be able to drink them.

Sanford [...]

The apothic-alypse - the rise of sweet red wines

There’s a new red wine that’s becoming a bit of a hit. But the wine writing fraternity are up in arms. It’s Apothic red, from California, and leading UK critic Tim Atkin has described it as ‘undrinkable’.

The problem? It’s sweet. It has 16.4 grams per litre of residual sugar. It certainly isn’t the first red [...]

Hirsch at the Grain Store

Had a lovely evening on Thursday. It was a last-minute invitation from Roberson’s Mark Andrew, who was holding a small dinner for new agency Hirsch: Jasmine Hirsch, daughter of founder David Hirsch was in town with wines in tow.

I have written up the wines – some of California’s most exciting Pinot Noirs – separately here. They are impressively [...]

Lunch at Arbutus with Marimar Torres

Had lunch today with Marimar Torres and her daughter Cristina at Arbutus, in Soho. It was my first visit to Arbutus, and I loved the food, although the dining room is noisy and quite basic. The food is serious, and much better than the environment. I had warm, crisp pig’s head with potato puree and [...]

The new California: dinner with Kutch and Sandhi

On Monday night I had dinner with two very interesting Californian producers: Rajat Parr of Sandhi Wines, and Jamie Kutch of Kutch wines. It was hosted by Roberson Wine (www.robersonwine.com) who import these wines into the UK, at the impressive Bar Boulud.

This are the new faces of California: wines of natural balance and complexity.

Rajat Parr [...]

Sine Qua Non Shot in the Dark - 100 points or 86?

I have just written up Thursday night’s tasting of cult Californian wines.

It was an eye-opener. One wine in particular polarized option. For me it was the worst wine of the night: over-ripe, and with an unpleasant roast coffee overtone. One or two others liked it. Robert Parker gave it a perfect 100 points out [...]

A brilliant, natural California Grenache

Now this is a superb wine. Before opening it, I admit I was expecting something very sweet and ripe, in the new world mould. But what I got was something thrilling, elegant and amazingly drinkable. It’s from a vineyard planted in 1910, with vines on their own roots. Birichino, pronounced biri-kino, seems a very interesting [...]

Two Californian Chardonnays

Californian wines are somewhat under-represented in the UK. Here are a couple of impressive Sonoma Chardonnays that I liked quite a bit, and which show restraint, balance and complexity.

Marimar Estate Son Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay ‘Acero’ Unoaked 2009 Russian River Valley, Sonoma
13.5% alcohol. Powerful and rich textured with pear and peach fruit as well as a [...]

Two Cabernets from Napa Valley: Silverado and Grgich Hills

I’ve only visited California’s most famous wine region – Napa Valley – once. But I was quite taken by the place. It’s actually a really good place to grow wine grapes, and makes some really superbwines. You can’t bash the wine region for the stylistic extremes and bad taste of some of the wineries, while [...]