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March 2018 – Blanquette de Limoux – A Great Méthode Traditionelle Sparkler

My searches across the past, now distant, festive season for ‘affordable’ sparklers took me quite beyond the welter of lower-priced Champagnes (possibly risky), Prosecco, Cava etc. towards a happy re-discovery of a relative rarity on wine merchants’ shelves: sparkling Blanquette de Limoux. Based principally on the gently rustic Mauzac grapes grown locally in the Languedoc, the history of the original wine is said to stretch back as far as the mid 16th century, although more modern techniques now come into play in its commercial production. Read More...

February 2018 – Hey Malbec! + Recipe

John Ducker writes:- Spring not yet in sight here in the UK? A warming spicy red calls for attention, perhaps – but a word of warning: don’t be alarmed either by the name of my February ‘pick’ or, particularly, its offbeat cartoon label design: a retro Superman summoning delivery of a glass of this wine to his space ship! Read More...

January 2018 – Palomino – The Sherry Grape In Both Unfortified & Conventional Fortified Forms

I always find it exciting to discover wines that are completely new to me as well as encountering old half-forgotten favourites. The tie-up in this case lies across the grape variety Palomino, the principal staple base of Sherry. This first chosen example, Las 30 del Cuadrado 2016, from Bodegas Emilio Hidalgo, is unusual as being sold unfortified. True to its title it comes from a thirty acre ‘pago’ or dedicated vine plot on one of the company’s estates in Balbaina Alta, a well regarded region between Jerez de la Frontera and the coast. Two unique characteristics inform this wine’s style and taste: the vines supplying it are at least 70 years old and are deeply rooted in the classic crumbly-chalky ‘albariza’ soils of the region, the other is that the wine is fermented in wooden casks that have previously been used for Hidalgo’s ultimate grade of Manzanilla Sherry. Read More...

December 2017 – Classic English Sparkling Wine + Winter-Warming Portuguese Red

The purpose of this column has always been to steer readers month by month to wines that offer great value for money. Inevitably these days prices being asked for the treasures of the world’s most venerated viticultural areas lift everyday accessibility up-and-away from more modest pockets. Read More...

November 2017 – A Velvety Cabernet Sauvignon From Chile & A Late Harvest Furmint From Hungary

Two offerings are up for consideration this month, perhaps with an eye to the festive season ahead. Read More...

October 2017 – A Classy Sicilian Red From The Slopes Of Mount Etna

The late Giacomo Tachis , the oenologist who spearheaded the ‘SuperTuscan’ phenomenon of the ‘80s and ‘90s, predicted that Sicily’s Mt. Etna would soon be regarded as something akin to the wine world’s ‘second Burgundy’. Read More...

September 2017 – Italy (Tuscan Maremma) – A Light Crisply Herbaceous White

One cannot help feeling a little powerless in the face of natural extremes, witness the recent temperatures in Italy’s Mezzogiorno and particularly in Sicily where 43deg. C was registered across the vineyards – an unbelievable 109.4 degrees in Fahrenheit terms.   An unheard-of early to mid-August battle there, obviously, to get the harvests in before the [...]

August 2017 – France (Savoie) – Mondeuse Noire – A Sappy Summer Red

Last month I mentioned my having led a tasting in which a very successful example of a wine featuring the Mondeuse grape variety, albeit from Mount Veeder, California, and not from its native stamping ground in alpine eastern France.   Naturally I was curious to contrast the American version I had recently tasted with ‘the real [...]

July 2017 – USA (California) – Pinot Noir – Ripe Warm Climate Pinot Noir

On the ‘Value for Money’ wine front one lives and learns!   I had been commissioned recently by an exclusive Surrey wine club to furnish them with an upmarket tasting of Californian wines. I had been given a suitably generous budget into the bargain in the light of where the weaker pound currently sits alongside the [...]

June 2017 – France (Alsace) – ‘Zind’ from Zind-Humbrecht + Recipe

‘Zind’.....What hides behind that name?   Certainly the reputation of one of the longest-serving wine families of Alsace, the Humbrechts, who have been active in the region since around 1620 and whose wines, today, have gained not only organic but certified bio-dynamic status.   Based in Turckheim, and following the marriage of Leonard Humbrecht to Geneviève Zind [...]