Minerality in wine – flight of fantasy, fact or terroir?

The Mosel - slate slopes and a cool climate

Wine tasters and wine trade people often talk about minerality in wine – possibly too much, but I have always assumed that it means something, even though spell checkers hate the word. However I often come across people who find it hard to understand the term in reference to wine and yesterday I met someone who positively hates it.

Minerality to me describes many of those characteristics in a wine that are not fruity – yes there are some – especially in youth before the aged leathery or honeyed characters take over. Some wines are blindingly mineral, like the terpene/petrol notes of Riesling and a few other grapes. Some are chalky, in others you would swear that you can taste granite, iron, flint or slate, while others are more vaguely mineral. It is slightly confused, because scientific research seems to say that the vine does not deliver actual mineral flavours from the soil in which it grows – so where does it come from? It is possible that it is sometimes the acidity and sometimes the sensation of the tannins, but is it also possible that it is an utter flight of fantasy? A case of grasping at straws? Continue reading

Lorraine – wine worthy of the chase

 

The Moselle River in Lorraine

As many of you will know, I enjoy trying unusual wines, so take every chance I get to taste the odd, different and rare.

To that end I have a sort of mental list of things to keep my eye open for and for a long time I have wanted to try something from Lorraine, other than quiche. As a keen amateur historian I wanted to compare them to Alsace wines – after all the two regions get lumped together rather a lot.

I also wanted to compare them to the wines that I have tasted from Luxembourg recently – added to which I do tend to like wines made from this part of the world – in theory anyway. Continue reading

A Touch of Europe or Local Terroir?

The Hermann J Wiemer vineyard & winery

This was one of my favourite winery visits of my recent trip to New York. The Hermann J Wiemer winery made wines that really thrilled and spoke to me, as their literature states ‘wines in the finest European tradition from the heart of the Finger Lakes’.

I am not convinced that their wines are made entirely in the European tradition, but they do have a delicacy and a finesse that is very attractive. In my opinion though these are Finger Lake wines rather than European and I think that is how it should be. Continue reading

Riesling – a world tour

Riesling growing on the banks of the Moselle in Luxembourg

Riesling is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. Most of us in the wine business love Riesling, indeed many of us would class it as one of our favourite grapes, right up there with Pinot Noir.

Ask most consumers to list their favourite grapes, however and it is pretty unusual for Riesling to feature at all.

Personally I love Riesling, I find it a grape that I can get passionate about. What is more I seem to like all styles of Riesling, whether steely dry, off-dry, medium-dry or richly sweet – all can be wonderful in their place and make refreshing Summer wines. Continue reading

Austria – fascinating wines


I have recently had some experiences of Austrian wines and they were so good I thought that I would share them with you.

I was invited to a lunch and tasting at Merry Widows Wine. This is the brainchild of Canadian born musician Linn Rothstein. Basically her idea was to offer really good wines in smaller sizes for when drinking alone, so they offer a range of wines in 25cl and 50cl as well as full bottles.

Interestingly her career in music took Linn to Austria, where she was invited to a wedding and found herself sitting next to a winemaker. They were drinking his wines and Linn enjoyed them, took a case home to London where everyone she tasted them with thought they were something special. Continue reading

Alsace – time for me to rethink


I am currently rekindling my love affair with Alsace wines. Alsace is a fascinating place, it is very beautiful, has wonderful cuisine and produces wines that are never less than interesting – even if you don’t like them – oh and it makes some of the best lager in the world too! Continue reading

New Zealand delights

January is always a busy time in the tasting calendar and this year seems especially frantic – I went to three very different events yesterday.

The major one was the New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting at Lords and it was an excellent tasting, offering some 700 wines to try.

The standard, as you might expect, was very high with excellent wines from a wide array of grape varieties and regions. I will mention some of the more interesting over the next few weeks, so keep coming back.

However, three white wines stuck out as being especially enjoyable and delicious and I thought I would share those with you straight away. Continue reading