Ruggabellus: remarkable wines from the Barossa

I have a soft spot for the Barossa. It was the first wine region I ever visited. I’ve been there a few times now, and know it a bit. But I have struggled with some of its wines, which have expressed a bit too much ripeness, a little too much added tartaric, and a generous [...]

What the Great South African Syrah tasting tells us


On Thursday a very interesting tasting was held. It has already been written up by Tim Atkin and Christian Eedes, the two journalists who put it together. They were joined by a star studded list of 14 of South Africa’s leading winegrowers to answer the question: just how good is South African Syrah in a [...]

Two from the Swartland: Mullineux and Testalonga

Two lovely South African wines recently enjoyed. The first, quite conventional: the 2012 vintage of the fabulous Mullineux Syrah. While I love their Granite and Schist bottlings (I haven’t yet tried the new Iron cuvee), this is the wine to go for. It’s lovely, and a comparative bargain compared with its expensive peers. The second [...]

A brilliant, affordable Syrah from the Ardèche

This is one of the best affordable wines I’ve had in a long time. It’s a Syrah from the Ardèche, and it’s just so brilliantly drinkable. Made by Cave Saint Desirat for Marks & Spencer, it manages to capture that northern Rhone Syrah quality. This is what M&S wine buyer Belinda Kleinig had to say [...]

New releases from Aussie star Shaw & Smith

I’ve reviewed the wines of Shaw & Smith before, here and here. I got to taste some of the latest releases, and I’m once again pretty impressed. The Sauvignon Blanc pays the bills for the other wines. The Chardonnay is probably the true star in the line up, but everything’s good here.

Shaw & Smith Pinot [...]

Christmas Day highlights (2): Suduiraut 01, La Chapelle 97, Le Dome 96, Gruaud Larose 00

Some more Christmas Day wines.

Château Suduiraut 2001 Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
14% alcohol. Remarkably fresh still with complex, spicy lemon and grapefruit notes as well as viscous apricot, pear and peach characters. Lively and powerful with lovely weight. This is a stunning wine with great potential. 95/100

Château Le Dôme 1996 Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Normally a cult Saint [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Lunch at Mission E2 with some nice Californian wines

On Thursday I had lunch at one of London’s most exciting new wine destinations: Mission E2, the second venue from Sager & Wilde. It’s a beautiful space in a nicely converted railway arch near Bethnal Green tube station. Lots of dark wood, good natural light and a palm tree! The food was really good. I [...]

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 [...]