Moving on to the other side of the world, South Africa. Three estates were present: Mother Rock, mentioned here and here in the past; Jurgen Gouws, whose wines could qualify as my gateway drug to South Africa after having tasted them at RAW two years ago; and Testalonga, the solo-project of Craig and Carla Hawkins. I have tasted quite a few of their wines at separate occasions, so this was a great opportunity to go through the full lineup. All in all, the wines are exemplary expressions of their variety, yet characterized by a freshness and purity that really shows the signature of the winemaker. Continue reading
The 2014 edition of the Real Wine Fair was my first proper wine event. Two intense days packed with tasting, attending presentations given by experts, plunging into the completely unknown with Georgian wines and still remembering great wines made by the likes of Olivier Pithon, Elisabetta Foradori and Anton Van Klopper (just a few months back, I cracked my last, wonderful bottle of his 2010 Lucy Margaux pinot noir). The last couple of years I had to chose to either attend the RWF or RAW, given that London is not exactly cheap and winewriting doesn’t generate anything worthy of the term revenue. This year however, thanks to the combination of cheap Eurostar tickets and suitable dates, I had the luck of attending both fairs. Continue reading
So, how have our blue wine-producing friends fared since their marketing-heavy launch last year? Admittedly, they dropped off my radar quite quickly after I published this article. At the time, I had contacted them to see if their wine would be available in Belgium, as it was perennially sold out on their Dutch website. I didn’t get a reply until just a while ago, when they were thrilled to announce that they were back in production and that I would be able to order as much as I would need, or required to slip me into a sugar-induced coma (well, non-caloric sweeteners technically). It was casually mentioned that past issues were resolved, which is basically click bait for a google search to what said issues may be! Continue reading
Finally, my impressions from a day at the Salon des Vins de Loire. Contrary to last year, I only attended on Tuesday, due to the Salon changing its calendar and starting a day earlier, thus overlapping the numerous off-events. I don’t really know why this was done, nor did I get a straight answer from basically anyone, but I do think that it is to the detriment of the Salon. Visitors were few, perhaps also because it was the final day, but compounded with the fact that there was an entire tasting area gone in comparison to last year, this is not a good sign. I get that you want to be the biggest and the best, but look at Millésime Bio and Vinisud facing off just a week before the Loire events; no one really wins. Continue reading
Dive is the type of chaos with a flair that only the French know how to do right. Get annoyed at the lack of navettes between the Saumur station and the Ackerman cellars where la Dive takes place or walk. Get pissed off at the crowds of backpack-carrying groupies who just hang out with their revered winemaker of choice, or simply mingle with them. Finally, get paralyzed by the fear of swallowing due to the lack of spittoons, or carry around your own in a trolley, trumping backpacks in annoyance, like a certain couple of Dutch wine merchants (although you never know with the Dutch, they may as well have been creating their own very special blend of salvia-textured wine vinegar).
Just like last year, it is Loire tripping time. Three days, three events, three impressions. First up, La Renaissance des Appellations aka checking if the biodynamic fire still burns in Nicolas Joly’s eyes. Continue reading
There are a couple of tropes that you can count on in wine writing. Champagne is reviewed to bits around the holidays. March-April is all about Bordeaux with both supporters and critics of the primeur system basically repeating the exact same argument that they have had for the past five years. Summer is about rosé, which, based on what you read, is always better than the year before, higher quality, vintage-impact non-existent and seemingly the only wine you can chug when you pass 25°C, only to be completely forgotten and ignored come September. The rosé hype of the past couple of years remains on the up and up. Given that marketeers figure out something new to keep the buzz going every year (brosé, rosé-infused gummy bears, or this year’s frosé), I doubt that we will see an end to it soon.
There are wine-related stories that should never find their way to serious wine media. Some of these are obvious. Take for example the recently launched “Pinot Meow” and MosCATo” wines for cats (cringeworthy right from the start) which were luckily not taken up by too many publications. Other bits of news are not as clear-cut like this week’s Blue Wine launched in several countries and reported on in The Drinks Business or Decanter among other media. Continue reading
The 2016 RAW fair took place in London this weekend, and just like last year, it was an intense but terrific experience. An increasing number of winemakers seems to realize that it is a unique opportunity to showcase their wines to both old fans and people who are a lot more open-minded than the ones attending Prowein or Vinexpo. Of course, estates come and go but the showing does remain impressive. Those with long-established reputations stand side by side with those who are only just stepping into the world of wine, often presenting their first vintage to the public, nervous about the impression that they’ll make or the feedback they will receive. Continue reading
Note: sommelier studies and papers to write have led me to neglect The Wine Analyst yet again. From now on though, things will be different and posts will actually be published, even on a more or less regular basis!
To start with a bit of hipster news, beards are out, moustaches are the new thing (in all likelihood in solidarity with those struggling to grow a full beard)! Dive Bouteille has developed quite the rapport with the wine hipster community and continues to enjoy increasing international attention, not in the least thanks to Alice Feiring and Pascaline Lepeltier.
If you are a serious winelover, France is definitely the place to be in the beginning of the new year as large events are organized throughout the country. Millésime Bio gives the kick-off in the final week of January, leading directly into the Salon des Vins de Loire (with its numerous off-events) and ending with Vinisud. Unfortunately, some winelovers have completed unrelated day jobs, meaning that choices have to be made. Last year I visited La Dive Bouteille, basically the first off-salon event, and this year I combined it with a visit to the actual Salon (yes, people still go there) as well as Renaissance (formerly Renaissance des Appelations). Even when spending four days in Angers, this still meant that I had to skip Pénitents (Thierry Puzelat and René Mosse inviting friends) and Les Anonymes.
Media and wine are not good friends in Belgium. Superficial and incorrect information is moribund, and no one ever takes the time to correct it as items usually get the ‘light’ treatment, snuck in as filler. On the 23rd of December the VRT news contained an item on wine investments. The way it was announced in the newsreader’s almost playful style did not bode well. My fears were confirmed and it was yet another casual report that would do more harm than good to the image of wine. In exceptional circumstances, as the original video is in Dutch, my commentary is also provided in Dutch. Happy reading and more importantly, happy holidays! Continue reading
You cannot get a full picture of German Riesling without talking about the country’s tradition in sweet wines. At one point in time they ranked amongst the most expensive wines in the world, even beating a couple of Médoc First Growths. Unfortunately, they took a turn for the worse in the eighties. ‘liebfraumilch’ is largely to blame for the image of sweet German wines that still persists in many parts of the world. Continue reading
The Bordeaux en primeur campaign has come and gone as it does every year, resulting in the usual commentaries, analyses and articles being spawned. What always strikes me is the emphasis placed on the vintage assessment, more so here than in any other part of the world it sometimes seems. In fact, the general public tends to extrapolate the verdict of the 2014 Bordeaux vintage to France, or even the whole world. Continue reading
Attentive readers will recall my presentation of A Proper Claret, one of the many wines produced at the Bonny Doon Vineyard. I gave a brief introduction on Randall Grahm, founder of and winemaker at the Vineyard and I recently stumbled on his latest venture, crowdfunding the creation of 10,000 new grape varieties at his Popelouchum Vineyard. Continue reading
As those who follow me on Instagram may have noticed, I had the pleasure of enjoying a lunch at quite the location last Friday. Dinner In the Sky is a Belgian project, started by a company that rose to fame thanks to its spectacular bungee jumping activities. The concept is simple and radical at the same time. Continue reading
Portugal is, just like Greece, one of those countries that I have almost no experience with. An advantage of globalization is the availability of wines from the other side of the world, but the side-effect is the standardization of the offer. Continue reading
Sommelier exams are tomorrow so unfortunately there will be no wine presented this week, sometimes you have to keep your head clear and I think that most of you will agree that wine is not the best road to clarity! Continue reading
For a recent column in Decanter Jane Anson interviewed Michel-Jack Chasseuil, one of the greatest wine collectors in the world. I had come across his name before, namely while browsing through his book ‘100 vintage treasure from the world’s finest wine cellar’. Chasseuil is an obsessive collector and the proud owner of some of the rarest and supposedly greatest wines in the world. Continue reading
The currently most divisive topic in the wineworld is without a doubt the natural wine movement. You are either for it or against it, and middle ground is seemingly non-existent. Continue reading
The first thing you learn as a winelover is that budgeting is a flexible concept. It’s not exactly easy to just say no to a delicious discovery or something that seems so good that you just need one bottle to try at home. Continue reading
There are dozens of misunderstandings amongst the general public when it comes to wine. It is too expensive, it all tastes the same, I don’t know anything about it so I have to look like a deer caught in the headlights when presented with the wine list in a restaurant, anyone who knows the name of a grape variety that is not chardonnay or merlot is a snob,… . Continue reading
Right, I know what a lot of you are thinking, will he ever stop going on and on about tasting notes? Fear not, from next week on we will focus on wine and estates again! For now, we still have the most important influencer of a tasting note to discuss: a taster’s palate. Continue reading
Now we get to the difficult part, how do you actually come up with a tasting note? Sommelier courses nearly always start explaining students how to taste using a structured approach that can serve as a template for virtually every wine they would encounter in the future. Yet, when browsing professional tasting notes, there is little structure or uniformity to be found. Continue reading
What makes someone a good taster? Is it the ability to identify 1001 aromas with a quick sniff of wine? Is it the ability to correctly identify a wine blind? Or does the number of synonyms and metaphors used in a tasting note judge it best? Continue reading
One of the most boring things to read in an article on wine is the list of tasting notes. This may seem contradictory as the essence of a wine is always, always found in the tasting. An estate may have a long history, it may be owned by celebrities or a bottle may even have been dug out of a sunken submarine, if the content does not excite or lacks a sense of identity than it is all for naught. Continue reading
I applaud all efforts, experiments and innovations that lead to a more natural and more sustainable way of making wine. This does not however mean that all developments discussed over the past series of articles really add something to the wine. Continue reading
As attentive readers will recall, our champagne is currently maturing “sur lie”. The alcoholic fermentation is done and if all goes well, autolysis, the interaction between the dead yeast cells and the wine is taking place. Continue reading
One of the first wine regions that thoroughly fascinated me was Champagne. This is not a coincidence as it is the closest international wine region from Brussels (sadly, Limburg or the Westhoek are as of yet not recognized as global centers of quality wine) and Belgians are possibly the largest consumer group of champagne (all the wine that Belgians buy on a quick trip to the region is not included in most market research). Continue reading
Two weeks ago I was invited on an organized trip to Spain by the promotional department of the D.O. Rueda. I spent three days in the region visiting wineries and discovering the possibilities of Verdejo, Rueda’s star grape. Continue reading
The enjoyment of wine depends on a lot of different factors. The company you are with, the setting, the food, your state of mind, your health… .One factor that I would like to address in a bit more detail today is finding out why the same wine does not always offer the same experience. Continue reading
Judging from the wine blogosphere, you would be quite correct in assuming that German white wine is the next big thing, up for a well-deserved revival after the world had been flooded with cheap, low-quality liebfraumilch for decades. I myself only discovered the new wave in German wine a couple of years ago when I was introduced to Dönnhoff (Nahe) and Horst Sauer (Franken). Continue reading
Right. You like wine, you drink a lot of it, you read about it, frequent tastings and become snotty enough to claim that your opinion somehow starts to matter in the world of wine. What better way to express yourself, to share your vast knowledge for the greater good of humanity than through a blog? Continue reading