Oh, the places you'll go! 2016 in review

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January: the year began in New Zealand, for a South Island Road trip, followed by the Sauvignon Blanc celebration. We started off in Central Otago, where it was unseasonably cold. Rippon is pictured above.

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North Canterbury provided some highlights. including Pyramid Valley (above) and Bell Hill (below).

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February saw the Professional Wine Writers’ Symposium in Napa, California. Hugh Johnson’s keynote was the highlight. A terribly unfocused discussion on minerality was the lowlight.

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In February, I attended Simplesmente Vinho in Porto, Portugal. It’s a lovely, slightly alternative wine fair.

Sashi Moorman

Sashi Moorman

In March I took a lovely trip to California with some great people. We started off in Santa Barbara’s wine country and then headed up north to Napa and Sonoma. It was great to see the Lompoc Wine Ghetto where the likes of Sashi Moorman and Raj Parr make their wines.

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Jason and Bob Haas

Jason and Bob Haas

It was great to visit Tablas Creek in Paso Robles (above), and Nathan and Duncan of Arnot Roberts, one of the state’s most exciting producers (below).

Duncan and Nathan, Arnot Roberts

Duncan and Nathan, Arnot Roberts

Grower Champagne, ProWein

Grower Champagne, ProWein

March continues with Prowein. I tasted a lot of grower Champagne there, as well as doing some seminars for Canada.

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March also saw a quick trip to Bordeaux to taste the bottled 2014s with Millesima. Above, the modern winery of Marquis d’Alesme. Below, the lovely city of Bordeaux.

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Johan Reyneke

Johan Reyneke

In early April I travelled to South Africa for the first of three visits. This was for judging the Top 100 competition. Pictured above is Johan Reyneke, who I visited on the last morning.

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April is also International Wine Challenge month. Two weeks of hard work, and good times with colleagues. It’s like a family.

Anselme Selosse

Anselme Selosse

April finished with a visit to Champagne. So many good visits, including a brilliant one with Anselme Selosse, and a lovely time with Rodolphe Peters of Pierre Peters (below). It was lovely staying in Reims.

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mee godard

One of the highlights of May was a trip to Beaujolais, visiting some really good people. Mee Godard in Morgon was a great visit among many.

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Another great visit was with the Thillardon brothers in Chenas (below).

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Paul Henri and Charles Thillardon

Paul Henri and Charles Thillardon

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May also saw a lovely visit to Germany, catching several regions and some great producers, such as Ernie Loosen (above) and Helmut Donnhoff (below).

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Me in the Rheinhessen. Germany is on a roll at the moment.

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June: Alsace. I love Alsace so much. It’s always great to visit.

Painted Rock

Painted Rock

June saw the first of four trips to Canada. Destination Penticton, for the National Wine Awards of Canada. The Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys are really beautiful.

Severine Pinte

Severine Pinte

Severine Pinte at La Vieux Pin is making some of BC’s best wines: serious Syrah.

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Lovely BC fizz from Jay!

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Straight from Canada, I headed over to Rioja for a consultants’ meeting with Lallemand. We visited Contino and also Marques de Riscal (above).

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Then I was off to South Africa again, at the beginning of July. I explored MCC (South Africa’s sparkling wine), visited the Leeu Collection, and judged the Top 10 Chenin Blanc competition.

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This was lovely: Ken Forrester’s new high-end Chenin.

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July saw some West Coast USA action. Starting in Vancouver, we hit Oregon (Eyrie pictured above).

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Then some Oregon coast action: a quick trip to Cannon Beach.

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Beckham was a highlight of Oregon. Andrew makes amphora, and uses them.

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Then some time exploring Portland. What a city.

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And time in Seattle, attending the Riesling Rendezvous, a great event.

Wes Pearson at work in the sensory lab

Wes Pearson at work in the sensory lab

July took me to Adelaide, Australia, for the Australian Wine Technical Conference, where I gave a couple of talks, as well as visiting the AWRI (above) and McLaren Vale.

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Then August too me to Germany again, where I went on a press trip focusing on organic wines, tasted at the VDP event, and then studied sekt with my Canadian colleague Treve Ring. We made a video. Pictured above is Mathieu Kauffmann, who is now winemaker at Von Buhl in the Pfalz.

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August also saw me head over to TexSom in Dallas.

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Looking down on the Barca Velha winery from the chapel

Looking down on the Barca Velha winery from the chapel

September: harvest time in the Douro. A lovely trip taking in the Douro Boys, including Vale Meão (above) and Crasto (below).

Quinta do Crasto

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We also visited Taylors to see foot treading in action. A video on how Port wine is made was the result, another collaboration with Canadian colleague Treve Ring.

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Jean-Benoit Deslauriers

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers

In September I headed back to Canada. Destination (1) was Nova Scotia, where I visited sparkling wine producer Benjamin Bridge. Great wines from Jean-Benoit and his team.

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norman hardy chardonnay

Then destination (2) Was Norman Hardie Wines in Prince Edward County, where I was immersed in vintage for a few days. It was a great experience. Norm is pictured above with Claude.

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Iona

Iona

Then it was off to Elgin, South Africa’s coolest wine region (above), for the Chardonnay Symposium. It was a lovely few days. I followed it with a night in Bordeaux (below), before heading to Provence.

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We had a lovely visit to Provence. Rosé is on a roll.

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This was followed by a trip to Bordeaux, investigating the shift to organics, and also seeing the alternative side.

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October saw me visiting pioneering Spanish wine company Vintae in Rioja and other northern Spanish regions.

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November saw me in BC, Canada, again. I did a gig at Cornucopia in Whistler, then headed over to Victoria (above), to checkout the wine and beer scene here, and to judge in Gold Medal Plates.

Francisco Albuquerque and Chris Blandy

Francisco Albuquerque and Chris Blandy

Late November I headed over to Madeira, for my first visit, with Blandy’s, the leading producer.

madeira

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And the last trip of the year: 10 days in Chile and Argentina. Above, Seña. Below, travelling companions Neil Beckett and David Williams.

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Doña Paula's Alluvia vineyard in Gualtallary

Doña Paula’s Alluvia vineyard in Gualtallary

It has been a lot of travelling. A big year. Lots learned. One of the best.

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