Don't spit great wine!

In the wine trade, we taste. And then we spit. Have to, really, otherwise we’d all be permanently drunk and would die young.

Sometimes, though, a wine is too good to spit.

When I was tasting through the icon wines that The Sampler has just put on its enomatics, I found myself instinctively spitting the wines. But [...]

The remarkable Tissot Savagnin 2008, a flor-aged Jura wine

This is a lovely, complex, detailed and – in some senses – difficult wine from Benedicte and Stephane Tissot in the Jura. It’s aged for 30 months in barrel under a layer of flor, and was bottled in October 2011. Remarkable stuff. Like strong cheese, it’s not for everyone, but I think it’s hauntingly beautiful [...]

Jean-Paul Brun Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly 2013 Beaujolais, France

Gamay. A variety that I’m growing to love. I remember Kermit Lynch memorably describing Beaujolais as ‘the one night stand of wines.’ His point: not every wine has to be serious. Not every wine drinking experience needs to be a great one. I’m sure there are points chasers out there who set themselves a threshold [...]

Burgundy and Rhone, Cathiard and J-L Grippat

Met for pre-dinner drinks with Raj Parr and his cousin Prerna at 28-50 yesterday. Two bottles between three before dinner wasn’t a smart idea, but they were super wines. The Cathiard is, as you might expect from the producer and vintage, a big expression of red Burgundy – ripe and rounded. The Jean-Louis Grippat was [...]

Champagne Deutz Cuvee William Deutz 2002

This is remarkable stuff. The prestige cuvee from Deutz, from the brilliant 2002 vintage. Deutz is based in Aÿ, which is Pinot country, and the blend reflects this. It is 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier, and it’s aged for 60 months on lees. Dosage is a relatively high 11.5 g/litre. The key here [...]

Lunch with two great South African wines, and a good northern Rhône

Had a lovely long lunch yesterday. It was at Bread Street Kitchen, part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, located next to St Paul’s Cathedral.

The dining room is huge. Really huge. Impressively huge. It’s beautifully finished in a faux vintage, semi-industrial style, but it’s really noisy. We could hardly hear the waitstaff as they talked to [...]

Southern Rhône, I have neglected you - Brusset Les Hauts de Montmirail 2012

Southern Rhône, I have neglected you.

We used to be good friends.

When I first got into wine you used to give me a lot of pleasure. Vieux Telegraphe and Beaucastel, in particular, were happy wines for me.

But then you started getting all spoofy on me. You chased points, you got rich, you started driving expensive cars, [...]

Vidal Fleury Crozes Hermitage 2012

Regulars here will probably know that the northern Rhône is one of my favourite regions, and that I am crazy about cool-climate Syrah. It would be fair to say that negociant Vidal Fleury is not one of the northern Rhône’s elite producers, but they seem to be getting better, and this is a very smart [...]

Les Griffons de Pichon Baron 2012, a serious effort

This is a super wine. It’s a new launch from Bordeaux superstar Pichon Baron. Christian Seely describes it thus: ‘It is a second wine, made from grapes from the intermediate parcels that might sometimes make it into the Grand Vin, sometimes into Tourelles [previously regarded as Pichon's second wine]. Les Tourelles itself comes mostly from [...]

A day in Paris

Although I’m often travelling through it, and have stayed a few times on business, I realized that I hadn’t been a tourist in Paris since I was 15. And some super cheap Eurostar deals created the opportunity: spend a day in this great city doing some really touristy things.

So after a very early start, we [...]