How impossibly beautiful is Amsterdam? I’ve only visited once, back in 1997, when the organisation I worked for as a science editor held a meeting there. Coming back, on a beautiful May evening, I was overwhelmed by the feel of the place. All those canals! All the bicycles!
I love the fact that so many people cycle in the Netherlands. There are amazing numbers of bicycles here, and there are even large parking lots for them. The only other place where I’ve seen so many bikes is in Beijing. Interestingly, though, none of the cyclists wear helmets. Maybe the cars are much more used to cyclists, and so it’s safer here.
I was staying in an amazing Airbnb apartment on Keizersgracht. It’s just an idyllic location. We dined around the corner, at the Cafe de Klepel. This is a lovely wine bar. Here, we ate simply and well, and drank great wine. These were my dining companions.
Champagne Marguet Shannan 12 Grand Cru NV France
Marguet is a grower based in Ambonnay, and this is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, bottled in July 2013 and disgorged in March 2016. No sulphites were added and dosage is 2.4 g/litre. Rich but tight with nice tension. Citrussy and bright with a spicy herby twist. Some pear and crisp apple. This has ripeness but the low dosage keeps things tight. Lovely. 94/100
Scali Blanc 2007 Voor Paardeberg, South Africa
Some raisin and baked apple on the nose. Has marmalade and a bit of spice. Grippy and detailed with an oxidative character, but after a while in the glass this seems much more alive with lovely crystalline fruits. 92/100
Heymann Lowenstein Winningen Uhlen ‘L’ Riesling 2012 Mosel, Germany
13% alcohol. This dry Mosel Riesling comes from dramatic, terraced vineyards near Koblenz at the end of the Mosel region. This has amazing aromatics with tangerine, lemons and spice. Really floral and expressive. It shows sweet, textural citrus fruit on the palate with some grip. 93/100
Louis Desvignes Les Impénitentes Morgon Javennieres 2014 Beaujolais, France
Structured, juicy and bright with lovely sweet raspberry and red cherry fruit. Nice sweet fruit with some grainy grip, and an appealing stonineness. Stylish. 92/100
Château Sociando Mallet Haut Medoc 1990 Bordeaux, France
12.5% alcohol. Fresh but with lovely evolution. So expressive with a leafy, slightly gravelley edge to the sweet cherries and herbs. There’s a silky texture here. Pristine showing some evolution, but at a perfect point to drink while it still has lots of fruit. Really over-delivers. 95/100
Mullineux Schist Syrah 2013 Swartland, South Africa
Fresh and detailed with supple berry and cherry fruit. Stony and mineral with nice weight and freshness. Some raspberry brightness and good acidity and grip here. Lovely wine. 94/100
Yves Duport Bugey Blanc ‘Les Cotes’ 2016 Savoie, France
Sweetly fruited with tangerine and apricot as well as some lemon notes. Textured, smooth and sweet. Rounded. Bold and pure with nice focus. 91/100