A Shock to my System

Sometimes I feel left out and sometimes I just feel annoyed – about Pinot Grigio.

I just don’t get Pinot Grigio, I sort of understand why it sells – it usually doesn’t taste of anything, so the focus of your evening remains the conversation, the wine stays in the background to lubricate your palate.

I need acidity in a white wine though, so the slight bitterness on the finish of virtually every Pinot Grigio is unpleasant to me.

It is fair to say that, with the exception of some rich Friulian examples, I avoid Pinot Grigio if I possibly can. Pinot Gris however can be a very different thing, and I enjoy the occasional taste of that from Alsace or even New Zealand – Pinot Gris seems to me to generally have more depth, honesty and concentration but even then I really want more acidity. Continue reading

The Napa Valley – a world class wine region

I have long had a fascination for wines from California and as Napa Valley is the most famous wine region in California I was honoured to be invited to attend the Master Napa Valley Course 2009.

This was an intensive course spread over three days visiting wineries and vineyards as well as hearing from wine makers and leading wine industry figures. It was especially interesting as only the week before I had attended something similar in Burgundy and was thus able to compare many aspects of these two seemingly different wine regions. Continue reading

The Appalachian appellations – more on Virginian wines

Many of will be aware that I tasted some Virginian wines earlier in the year and was pretty impressed. If you want to read about it again, click here.


Well, the other day I was invited to a specific tasting of Virginia wines and was able to taste 20 wines from the state. Continue reading

Philipponnat – a fine Champagne house

Charles Philipponnat was in town the other day and I could not resist the opportunity to try some of his Champagnes.

The Philipponnat family have been growing grapes and making wines in Champagne since 1522. They were originally based in in Aÿ, but Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat moved to nearby Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in 1910, where the Philipponnat Champagne house is still based in the beautiful Château de Mareuil.

Philipponnat has long been a favourite producer of mine, indeed I used to sell their Champagnes when I was a wine merchant, but most of the time I seldom get the chance to try them.

I was delighted therefore that Charles presented a range of six of his cuvées – the bulk of his range. This gave me true insight into the Philipponnat style and demonstrated what elegant and un-showy wines they are. Continue reading

Irancy – the rural side of Burgundy

My visit to Domaine Saint Germain in Irancy, Burgundy

CIMG0984As discussed before in these pages, I am often attracted to more unusual wines, the less familiar, the less famous. I suppose that I always live in hope that these will prove to be undiscovered gems whose time has come – and sometimes that is the case.

Last week I was on a very interesting tour of Burgundy as a guest of the ever generous Burgundy Wine Board (BIVB). We saw many lovely places and tried some great wines, more of which later, but I was excited about a visit to the far North of the region, the Grand Auxerrois. These are vineyards around the town of Auxerre, just 20 km from Chablis, home to the areas’ most famous wine. Continue reading