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Showing posts from 2016

You don’t always need to be small to be beautiful.

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You don’t always need to be small to be beautiful. 


Why do people with more money than sense ( which incidentally is something that I aspire to) sometimes pay thousands of pounds for a single bottle of wine? One of the main reasons is scarcity. If there are only a few hundred bottles of something then wealthy people can pay ridiculous prices to own one of them. This is all very well but are there wines that are real classics that are produced in large enough quantities for us mere mortals? One of the best places to find the answer is Rioja where producers such as Muga and Rioja Alta make large volumes of absolutely consistent genuine quality. My absolute favourite is a company called called CVNE (Pronounced Coonay) - Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana or roughly translated as The North Spanish Wine Company. So far so glamourous.  A few years back ( well, almost 20 if I was being honest) I worked for their British agent and have loved their wines ever since to the extent that more of…

Here's a winemaking game to play, Twist or Stick?

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The information available to play this game is - as of 5th October your grapes are ripe enough to pick. They would produce a wine of around 9-9.5 % alcohol which is plenty and would make a nice wine but you'd probably need a tiny amount of sugar added to the tank to bring it up to 10%. The key thing isn't this but, it's ( adopts Greg Wallace from Masterchef voice) flavour. They are already picking up some nice interesting qualities beyond just tasting of sugar and acid but, if you left them for another week, they could get really interesting. So, it seems obvious that you'd leave them. The dilemma is, the weather is currently perfect but, next week there's a chance of rain which adds the risk of disease and would dilute the juice. Here's the Met Office forecast.
UK Outlook for Sunday 9 Oct 2016 to Tuesday 18 Oct 2016: The largely settled weather is expected to continue through much of this period. Despite som…

Living the dream - Ten things that might help you if you are planning to make wine from scratch in England.

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As we followed the big removal truck down our road in the burbs to start our life back in the West Country, one of our neighbours shouted "livin the dream" by way of goodbye . Life was going to be one extended  daytime TV property show. The sun would always be shining, all year round lambs would be frolicking in the fields  and horny handed sons of toil would be leaning on gates and chewing straw ready for a chat and a glass of cider. Of course, this has absolutely no resemblance to how we were feeling - we were completely arse clenchingly terrified.  What sort of practical things would our 1997 selves have liked to have known before we started our big adventure  that may have helped us on the way?


1. If you are in possession of a large fortune, welcome to having a small fortune. If you are in possession of a small fortune, say goodbye to it. If you don't have any fortune, you are about to give every waking moment over to your dream of making great wine and so, ask you…

Jancis Robinson.

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When I started out in the wine business, there were two people neither of which I have ever met that had a huge influence on me. One was Hugh Johnson and the other was Jancis Robinson. Today there is a whole industry of wine commentators all vying for PR spend of mega bucks wineries but it is still frustratingly rare to find writers that have their happy combination of a fine palate and unforced erudition. Because of this, it is a distinct honour that of 84 English wines tasted on Jancis Robinson.com, only three scored higher than the 17/20 of our 2011 Sparkling. The article is on the purple pages of http://www.jancisrobinson.com/ which are subscription only (something well worth paying for if you're into your wine) but I hope they won't mind me posting it here. Almost everything about English (and Welsh) wine gives cause for cheer. Labelling is getting better and better, with only a few old-fashioned 'cottage industry' style brands remaining. Plenty of newcomers are …