Three amazing natural wines from Mas Coutelou

These are lovely, lovely wines. I followed them over the course of a few days, so I’m fairly confident in my recommendations, too. They are made by Jeff Coutelou, in France’s Languedoc. Jeff works naturally, using very little sulfur dioxide at all. All are young, dense and grippy, and I think that you’d be safe [...]

Video: visiting Sancerre by helicopter

Here’s a short film shot from my recent visit to the famous Loire village of Sancerre, by chopper. It proved quite an eventful journey: on the way, the door I was sitting next to came open. It looked quite a long way down. The pilot had to land in a field in order for me [...]

Judging in the Concours Mondial Sauvignon Blanc

The Loire at Blois

I’m just back from a few days in the Loire, where I was part of a large international jury judging the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon competition.

The location of the tasting

We stayed in Blois, and tasted in the rather spectacular castle of Blois. We were some 60 judges, divided into teams of [...]

Dinner at La Trouvaille in Blos, with interesting Loire wines

On Friday night, I had dinner at La Trouvaillle in Blois. By its decor, this doesn’t seem a terribly high-end restaurant, but the food is really good and the wine list adventurous.

I was dining with an interesting group: sommelier Henri Chapon, winegrower Lionel Gosseaume, and Dutch journalists Lars Daniel and Chris Alblis. We enjoyed some superb beef, and [...]

In the Loire

Blois

This is going to be one of those slightly frustrating, short-on-words, big on pictures posts. It’s just that I am in the Loire, in Blois, not far from Touraine, and – as often happens on these sorts of trips – I’m so busy that blogging is tricky.

The Castle of Bois

I arrived yesterday evening, [...]

A day in the Languedoc

I spent today in the Languedoc, doing some work. The work was actually quite enjoyable: I was tasting a selection of 90 of the estate wines from Les Grands Chais de France, with a view to selecting 12 ‘ambassadors’ – wines that Grands Chais could use to show to the press and trade what they [...]

A beautiful Viognier

When Viognier is good, it can be great. I remember first being introduced to the grape in the early 1990s. Then, it was quite rare, with a reputation for being difficult to grow. Now you get it everywhere, and it can be very ordinary. When it fulfils its promise, however, it produces the most beautiful [...]

A superb, inexpensive Ventoux

Continuing in my theme of brilliant wines under £10, here’s a Ventoux that I was seduced by. It’s one of those wines that manages to hold the sweet fruit and savoury notes in tension. It’s almost Burgundian, in a southern Rhone sort of way.

Gonnet La Jeannette Ventoux 2011 Rhone, France
14.5% alcohol. Not too deep in colour: [...]

A brilliant white Beaujolais

Beaujolais is becoming a very interesting wine region. Most of it is red, of course, but here’s a great white example that offers amazing value for money.

Jean-Paul Brun Chardonnay Classic Terres Dorees 2011 Beaujolais, France
12% alcohol. Complex, rounded, nutty and toasty with mineral notes as well as apple and pear fruit on the nose. The [...]

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2010, a delicious, serious Beaujolais

This is a really good example of how Beaujolais is becoming SERIOUS.

It’s naturally made, from organically (in conversion) farmed vineyards. It is from vineyards at almost 500 m in elevation, on a south-facing plt on pink granite, planted at high density from 50 year old vines (10 000 vines per hectare).

Julien Sunier Fleurie 2010 Beaujolais, France
12.5% [...]