It has been a good year. Not always straightforward, but rewarding. One measure of the success of a year is how much I have learned, and this year I have learned a great deal. Here are some of the highlights.
First trip of the year, a brief visit to Bordeaux, to talk at a conference on wine communication. Bordeaux has begun to grow on me this year; I have ignored it for too long.
Then it was off to New Zealand for Pinot Noir 2013, and a chance to visit five different regions, courtesy of the Family of XII. So a number of pictures. There’s Craggy’s Te Muna Road vineyard in Martinborough; the Wellington ukulele orchestra at Neudorf in Nelson; a vertical of Ata Rangi; James Millton who hosted me in Gisborne, with some tuna freshly caught by his mate Boyd; and a view from the flight down to Central Otago.
February saw a remarkable Sauvignon Blanc tasting, to launch the new Brancott ‘Chosen Rows’ Sauvignon Blanc.
There was also a dinner with two of the new stars of California, Kutch and Sandhi. Great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with real finesse.
March also took me to South Africa. As well as judging in the Top 100 competition, I also visited Robertson, Stellenbosch and Hemel-en-Aarde. Pictured below is Kevin Grant of Ataraxia, in his chapel-like tasting room.
I gave a talk at VinCe in Budapest in March. This was a dinner with wine people at Zona, a great modern Hungarian restaurant in the city.
April took me to the Loire, to taste at the Concours Sauvignon in Blois, a charming town. I also got to visit Sancerre for the first time (above).
May: my first wine trip to Israel. Pictured are three of the country’s leading winemakers. It was a fun few days.
And a great lunch hosted by Keith Prothero at La Trompette. Superb wines.
May: judging the wines of the Balkans competition in Sofia, with a great bunch of tasters. Some really interesting wines, too – 2013 was a year when the Balkan wines began to shine internationally. Pictured below is a remarkable Bulgarian wine from Borovitza – a Gamza (Kadarka in Hungary).
One of the two new cameras I bought this year. It’s lovely, especially with the f2.8 17mm prime lens pictured here.
Summer took me to Canada for the first time. It was a really fun trip. I wasn’t expecting to find so many really good wines. Pictured here, three of the stars: Hinterland, Norm Hardie, Pearl Morissette.
A new restaurant which became a favourite. My first experience of the Grain Store in Kings Cross (which is being redeveloped, below) was at a dinner showcasing the wines of Hirsch, with Jasmine Hirsch (above). Californian Pinot with elegance. As a result of this, I’m going to take part in an In Pursuit of Balance seminar next year.
I have to mention the dinner with an inspiring group of Portuguese winemakers – they’ve dubbed themselves the young winemakers of Portugal, but what happens in 20 years? The middle-aged winemakers of Portugal?
A new alliance of South African winegrowers, PIWOSA, held a memorable tasting and dinner in June.
Urban winery London Cru was a welcome addition to the London wine scene this year. The winery is under the Roberson offices in west London.
This was the year I began to run. I had a goal: the Medoc marathon, which I ran in September as part of team Pichon. I survived! Video is here.
2013 also saw my first visit to Tokaj, with Disznoko. It was harvest time, which made it even more exciting.
And to finish off with, my first visit to Serbia, to judge wine. I had a great couple of days in Belgrade, and the wines were impressive.
And for comparison, this is my year for 2012