Keep It Sweet

POSTED ON 23/03/2013

I wonder if Easter had something to do with the fact that my dentist told me she had just discovered PX. This unique Spanish sweet wine discovered me a while ago, which is why I went to see my dentist. PX, or Pedro, short for Pedro Ximénez is one of the darkest, richest, stickiest wines in the world and by rights shouldn’t exist as a wine at all. Oozing with viscous sucrosity, it’s the perfect blending sweetener, in small doses, for cream sherry and sweet oloroso.

Yes, Syrah

POSTED ON 16/03/2013

The biggest curveball in the Pol Roger 60th anniversary blind wine tasting between Oxford and Cambridge last month was the extraordinary 2009 Kongsgaard Syrah, Hudson Vineyard, California. An inky syrah of peppery violety intensity, it was the only New World syrah to sit alongside the other 11 classic wines. Tasted blind, it was a particularly tough nut to crack because there’s now so much superb syrah produced in so many countries. (see

Vintage Comedy

POSTED ON 09/03/2013

There’s something faintly comical about the notion of Wine Relief. Do you need relief from, or after, wine? Yet Comic Relief today, of which Wine Relief is a part, has become a serious business with Red Nose day the climax of a massive fun-raising, ha ha, exercise for worthwhile charitable causes across the UK and in Africa. While the joke may not be quite so hilarious after 25 years, Comic Relief’s achievements in raising more than £600 million in the fight against poverty and suffering is no laughing matter.

Mane Attraction?

POSTED ON 02/03/2013

Is there an ideal wine match for horse? Of course we prefer a spot of dressage or a flutter at William Hill to eating them. The sentimental taboo creates panic when we find horsemeat in our processed foods. How could you eat a Black Beauty, an Arkle or a Dobbin? I was horrified when I went to France as a teenager and came across shops called Chevaline. Not cheval, I whinnied, how could they? But staying with a family that reared horses in Africa, I soon learnt to live with the idea and wash it down with their mature claret.

Winter Warmers

POSTED ON 16/02/2013

It took me a while to work out what the famous bon viveur André Simon’ was on about when he said there are no great wines, only great bottles. Investors who depend on a wine to increase in value might point to an objective standard of greatness, but the weight of expectation is a heavy burden. Many an anticipated ‘great’ bottle turns out to be a disappointment, many a no-expectations a lovely surprise, all the more so when the ambiance is right and the conversation flowing.

Fruits, Roots & Leaves

POSTED ON 09/02/2013

I’m not sure if the Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne stuck to his new year’s resolution of a dry January, but if he or anyone else managed to overcome their ‘gloom and terror’, then they deserve a pat on the back. Not that they’ll get one from the I-could-if-I-wanted-to-crowd. The dry January deniers are legion, not just a self-interested wine industry and tax-hiking government, but those convincing themselves that daily alcohol consumption could only be someone else’s problem.

Burgundy on a Roll

POSTED ON 02/02/2013

Buy on an apple, sell on cheese, so the old wine trade adage goes. If the Himalayan mountains of cheese consumed during the frenzy of January’s Burgundy 2011 week in London are anything to go by, a great deal of the region’s wine has been sold en primeur before it’s even been bottled and delivered. Do you need Burgundy in your cellar? No. Do you want Burgundy in your cellar? Why wouldn’t you if you love wine? As Bordeaux alienates with arrogant pricing, Burgundy has grown in stature and popularity with much improved wine quality, more consistent vintages and greater availability.

Cape Hope

POSTED ON 19/01/2013

I don’t know if it was my conscience that was pricked or my subconscious that kicked in, but either way omitting South Africa from my 2013 crystal ball was an oversight. After my last trip in the summer as a judge at the Old Mutual Wine Trophy Show, I found much to admire in the way Cape producers have gone about addressing deep-seated vineyard problems and a tendency to uniformity of style.

Cahors - Black Magic

POSTED ON 12/01/2013

A window seat is a must when you fly into the pink city of Toulouse because of the astonishing bird’s eye view of the natural horseshoe bends in the Lot River as it snakes westward. The flat pastureland and sleepy towns of the Lot Valley exude such an air of deep tranquility that nothing appears to move. Yet for anyone lulled into a false sense of inertia, South West France’s wine region of Cahors is out to prove that nothing could be further from the truth.

A Bird's Eye ViewA Bird's Eye View

Rising Stars - What's in Store in 2013

POSTED ON 05/01/2013

Crystal ball-gazing as astrologers will tell you involves interpreting yesterday’s runes, call them what you will, and fashioning them into tomorrow’s near-certainties. Bordeaux’ new trade pact with Pu’er tea suggests that it can work as well with wine as tea leaves. So if the previous year’s harvest is a major clue as to how the world’s wines will turn out this year, it’s not going to take an Einstein to work out that for the second year running Bordeaux is likely to suffer at the hands of Burgundy.

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