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 [...]

Oakridge Lusatia Park Chardonnay 2011

I love this wine. It typifies what is happening with high-end Aussie Chardonnay at the moment – the embrace of elegance and freshness over weight and richness – picking earlier and producing complex, taut wines.

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Lusatia Park Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 Yarra Valley, Australia
From a north-facing vineyard with red volcanic soils. This was [...]

Great lunchtime wines: Kumeu River and Raymond Lafon

Didn’t want  to waste some fine white Burgundy samples that I opened, so headed over to brother-in-law Beavington’s house for some Sunday lunch today en famille. More on the Burgundies later, but for now I wanted to write about two wines he opened.

The first is Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2010 Auckland, New Zealand. Beavington [...]

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 [...]

In Auckland with Kumeu River

The final visit of my New Zealand adventure was at Kumeu River, a family-run estate a short drive from Auckland. This is close to where the New Zealand wine industry began in earnest, in west Auckland.

Milan and Michael Brajkovich in Maté’s vineyard

The Brajkovich family moved to New Zealand from Croatia, and the current property was bought [...]

New Zealand, day 3, in Nelson with Neudorf

Judy and Tim Finn, Nelson pioneers, who established Neudorf in 1978

I worked out that since November 2008, my first visit to New Zealand, I have visited five times in five years. That’s a significant accrual of air miles. But over the course of these visits, I’d never visited Nelson, so as I picked up [...]

Greywacke Chardonnay 2010

Kiwi Chardonnay can be great. It is relatively neglected, but when it’s good, it’s really good, and this is one of the gooduns. It is from Greywacke, whose 2012 Sauvignon Blanc is also really good, but this Chardonnay stood out as even better. It isn’t cheap, but I reckon it’s the qualitative equivalent of serious [...]

Weekend in the country, and three rich whites: Chile, South Africa and France

The long bank holiday weekend provided an ideal opportunity for a family get together. Remarkably, we managed to find a house big enough to take 15 on budget in the quaint village of Erdisland, Herefordshire.

My job on these occasions is to provide the wine. There’s a strong demand for crisp, dry, unoaked white wine, and [...]

First Drop Mere et Fils Chardonnay, great wine, fabulous label

Aussie wine producer First Drop are fast becoming one of the cleverest at marketing their wines – even outdoing D’Arenberg. The good news is that the content of the bottle matches up to the ambitions of the packaging. This is a lovely Chardonnay, and the front and back labels are just brilliant.

First Drop Mere et [...]

A serious Hungarian Chardonnay from Grof Buttler

I’m off to Hungary next week, so I thought this would be an appropriate time to blog about this rather stylish Hungarian Chardonnay. It’s from Grof Buttler, a producer I know little about, but which I’d like to know better. They are based in Eger, and their currently unreconstructed website is here.

Gróf Buttler Chardonnay 2009 [...]