Back in the saddle?


I’ve been travelling again, in a limited way.

This last week, I was in Germany. I flew to Frankfurt, took a train to Wiesbaden, and tasted some of Germany’s finest wines for three days. Then I got a lift to Oberhaus in the Nahe, where I spent two days at Gut Hermannsberg, a remarkable wine estate that is making some of the country’s best Rieslings.

Prior to this, I spent a long weekend in the Languedoc visiting Gerard Bertrand’s collection of Languedoc estates, as well as attending the jazz festival – this was the 17th year that he has hosted this. So good to see biodynamic farming on this scale (850 hectares overall), as well as initiatives like the 3 million bottles of no-added-sulfites wines he makes with partner wineries.

And I also visited UK winery Tillingham for a weekend, exploring the UK natural wine scene.

By normal standards, this is pretty modest travel. And it has been quite a difficult adjustment to make – first of all, to not travel for months, and then to travel under very different conditions.

How was flying? The airports are quiet, and in some ways nicer places to hang out. The planes are just as busy (which may be a concern for some). There’s also inconsistency in terms of the contact tracer form you have to fill out online: returning through Heathrow from France, the border control officers checked that everyone had filled out the form electronically, while this week there was no check.

There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment. It was so lovely to be back doing the job that I love, and which I think I am good at. Yet, it was a taste of the past: things will probably never be back to what we think of as ‘normal’ for a very long time.

Long haul travel is out for perhaps a year, maybe more. Short haul travel plans are made with a sense of trepidation. There’s a good chance that they may be cancelled at short notice.

I’m also rethinking my business model. Travelling 300 days a year is brilliant for collecting new material, meeting people, and learning. But it isn’t sustainable on a personal level, and the carbon footprint is shocking.

I can do what I do well with less time on the road.

There’s a big psychological side to the whole Covid pandemic. It’s probably affecting us all in different ways, some of which we aren’t aware of.

A perspective though: we may be living with uncertainty; we may have suffered financial loss; we may have even lost friends or family. This is terrible. But for many around the world, this has been a reality for many years. Being human is not straightforward, and challenges and difficulties will come calling. We can’t stop them. But we can decide how we respond to them.

So, back in the saddle? Tentatively. Not really, though.

Reminder: this blog is irregularly updated, but there are daily updates on the main wineanorak site.

wine journalist and flavour obsessive

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