Grape Britain: The English wine industry is beginning to sparkle

POSTED ON 15/06/2007

All of a sudden English wine is the hot topic, and global warming is only partly to blame. Not that you'd know it from last month's weather, but then, according to the Law of Sod, if it's the first day of Lord's, play will be curtailed by rain. The same drizzle descended when I popped in to Richard Balfour-Lynn's vineyard, Hush Heath (pictured below) in the Weald of Kent, playing into the hands of the 24 per cent of sceptics recently polled by Yahoo! who think that it's too rainy and cold to produce good quality wine in England.

Less Punch, More Pleasure

POSTED ON 05/08/2006

Alcohol on the brain? Not the best place for it perhaps, but rising levels of alcohol in wine are not just burning our throats but stirring the grey matter too. In California last year, Kent Rosenblum gave me a bottle of his 16.5 per cent zinfandel. When my wife, Charmaine, and I uncorked the monster, we found it was too thick to drink, so we diluted it with water (a practice commonly carried out at wineries, incidentally, to keep the alcohol level down). At what must have been more like 13 per cent, not only did we start to enjoy it (sorry Kent), but we'd managed to stretch it to a litre.

Tasmania: A real corker

POSTED ON 11/02/2006

I was due to fly in to Launceston the next morning, so my ears pricked up at this disconcerting titbit of conversation between the Melbourne bottle shop assistant and a customer enquiring about Tasmanian pinot noir for dinner. "Sorry, mate, but Tasmania's glory days are over. Nah, Tasmania just doesn't cut the mustard these days." Was this dismissive assessment simply the competitive sour grapes of a Victorian rival or was there was some truth in it?

Georgia - The Wild East

POSTED ON 18/08/2001

Flashing a Ministry of the Interior pass every time the police checked our Georgian Wines & Spirits company van proved eloquently persuasive. I never did find out why our bullet-headed bodyguard also needed to carry a gun on the three-hour trip from the capital, Tbilisi, to the winery, but as we passed a roadblock three kilometres from the Chechen border, I felt we were better off safe than sorry.

Cape Crusaders

POSTED ON 19/05/1999

Not before time, a number of pioneering new wine projects have begun to sprout out of the Cape's fertile vineyard soil. The ostensible aim of the partnership between black and white is to give disadvantaged communities a stake in the wine industry, with a share in the profits and ownerships. But is there real substance behind these laudable joint ventures? Or do they amount to little more than window-dressing, allowing white owners to help themselves to a more lucrative slice of the expanding international market?

Fine Wines, Fiscal Hangover

POSTED ON 22/09/1990

WANTED: tippler with expensive habit and three-quarters of a million to spare. Mount Street Fine Wine Company would like to hear from you.

Chilean Reds Prepare to Move Up

POSTED ON 27/10/1989

“WE have a long history of wine in Chile,” said a journalist to Nicolas Belfrage, a visiting master of wine in March, “but no wine culture.” The analysis may seem a little harsh, but it took 300 years from the introduction of the grapevine to Chile by Spanish missionaries for the industry to take root.


POSTED ON 22/09/1989

If the new head of Sainsbury's wine department can feel someone breathing down his neck, the breath probably smells of Tesco's own label. Mike Conolly has taken over our leading supermarket wine retailer at a crucial moment. Having pioneered a dramatic change in our wine-buying habits during the Seventies and Eighties, Sainsbury’s now finds itself fighting off a serious challenge from a competitor which stole its original blueprint and has developed it to its own advantage. Tesco now has a 13 per cent share of the market; Sainsbury’s has 14.2 per cent.

Syndicate content
Our sponsor