Exciting drinkable and affordable wines

It has been quite a couple of weeks for finding new and exciting wines and I find that is what makes wine really interesting. It might seem strange to some people, but to me wine is only partly a drink, it is also a constant voyage of discovery into places, people, culture and traditions – as well as seeking out delicious flavours.

Most of the time that does not mean that the wines are weird, whacky or odd in any way, just that they are slightly off the beaten track, made in places and from grapes that are a little less well known than they ought to be. It is for those very reasons they often reward trying as they can frequently offer better value than more well known wines, as well as an enormous amount of pleasure.

I have written before about how the majority of consumers seem to only drink wines from a very narrow range of wine styles and grape varieties, which is a real shame when there is so much good wine out there that often passes people by.

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The Story of St Estèphe

One of the complaints I have of most wine books is that they are mainly for reference rather than reading. Of course I have a large library of wine books for when I need to look things up, but sometimes I think how nice it would be to just sit down and read a book about wine that rattles along at the pace of a novel.

David Copp in full wine writer regalia on our trip to New York’s Finger Lakes

There are not many such books, but my friend David Copp has recently added a splendid example to my meagre collection. David is no mean writer and he has three other excellent volumes to his name, Hungary: Its Fine wines and WinemakersTokaj: A Companion for the Bibulous Traveller and Australian Wine Walkabout: Notes From Visits To Australian Fine Wine Makers  they are all available on Amazon and I recommend them to you.

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In Great Company – shortlisted for my first award

Writing a wine blog is often a lonely thing to do and it is rare indeed that I get any feedback, so I find it only too easy to imagine that each of my carefully crafted blog pieces receives a brief glance rather than the detailed read I think it deserves. So whenever I do receive any encouragement I tend to get somewhat over excited and I hope you will forgive me for sharing this piece of news with you, but it really is wonderful.

I have been shortlisted for a 2012 Born Digital Wine Award in the Best Editorial Wine Writing category.

These awards are for wine writing and journalism that originates on-line. Digital wine writing is often considered the poor relation, so I am thrilled that they exist and heartened by the high quality of writing of all my fellow nominees. The results are announced on 23rd May 2012, but I really do feel that I have won already just by being on the shortlist – a little recognition is a very satisfying thing.

The piece that earned me this shortlist place is called Minerality in wine – flight of fantasy, fact or terroir? It deals with the thorny subject of minerality in wine and you can read or re-read it here.

This link will take you to all the other shortlisted entrants too – I wish them all well and look forward to celebrating our joint good fortune on 23rd May.

The Cinque Terre – a hidden land

I have long wanted to visit the Cinque Terre, it is a place that has captured my imagination, so the other week I seized my chance and visited this tiny wine region.

The place is named for the five towns – Cinque Terre which sit in a spectacular landscape of intricately terraced agricultural land covering steep cliff faces all the way down to the sea. The towns themselves cascade down the cliffs in the most amazing way that makes them achingly picturesque – especially in the sunshine.

Manarola

These towns sit at the head of small valleys, ravines really, which means they can be at sea level rather than on the cliff tops – historically these lands were quite isolated and, before the railways, the main form of communication between them would have been by water. Even today the best way to see the vineyards is by boat as they are dispersed away from the towns and getting around is still hard. Corniglia is the one exception, it sits on the cliff-top and has no harbour.

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