News

The latest news and views from the Académie du Vin Library

Uruguay – Small is Beautiful

Steven Spurrier - Pisano Brothers: Gustavo, Daniel, Eduardo Compared to the neighbours who surround it Uruguay is tiny, almost pocket-sized, with just over three million inhabitants, half of whom live in the capital city Montevideo. Yet it has the widest river – Rio de la Plata, 45 kilometres bank to bank at its broadest – in the world, […] Read more >>

The San Francisco International Wine Competition

Steven Spurrier - Anthony Dias Blue, Jim Harre and Steven Spurrier at the SFIWC. Photo Credit: Gerald Weisl www.weimax.com The SFIWC is the world’s second oldest wine and spirits competition having been founded in 1980, beaten only by the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) here in the UK which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2019. Managed now […] Read more >>

Yarra Valley – Phylloxera Has Given us a Chance

Christine Austin - Yarra Vineyards. Photo Credit: Christine Austin Phylloxera. That word must strike fear into the hearts of all grape growers. The vineyard pest that caused devastation across Europe in the late 19th century surely causes panic in the few parts of the world that it has not yet reached? But rather than panicking, winemakers in the […] Read more >>

Balance – A Constant Struggle

CH’NG Poh Tiong - We imagine – romantically, but erroneously – that balance is a state of calm and tranquility. That while all around is hustle and bustle, balance reigns unperturbed, aloof from the clamour and din. Nothing is further than the tantalizing truth. Balance is a contest of will. A struggle between competing forces. Take, for example, balance […] Read more >>

Adegga – Their Innovative Wine Markets and More

Jim Budd - Adegga Trio: André Ribeirinho, André Cid and Daniel Matos. Photo credit: Ricardo Bernardo The last Saturday in November 2019 saw the 10th anniversary event of the Adegga Wine Market that brings wine consumers and producers together in Lisbon. It’s a great opportunity for wine lovers to meet and chat with some of the best Portuguese […] Read more >>

The Game of Rhônes

Norm Roby - Rhône Timetable: 1974: California’s first Syrah made by Joseph Phelps from a 4-acre plot. 1978: Estrella River plants Syrah in Paso Robles 1982: Qupe produces Syrah from Santa Barbara County 1984: First Cigare Volant made by Bonny Doon, from Central Coast 1989: Rhône Rangers Organized; 350 acres of Syrah exist 1994: Tablas Creek develops vineyards […] Read more >>

Stellenbosch: Too Perfect to be Interesting?

Michael Fridjhon - View from Neethlingshof vineyards over Jamestown and surrounding mountains. Photo credit: Charmaine Greiger via www.wosa.co.za Stellenbosch is the one Cape wine appellation that even the most amateur of wine amateurs could probably mention by name at a wine quiz. While the country's first vineyards were planted in and around Cape Town within a few years […] Read more >>

PRUNING

Fiona Morrison MW - I am writing this as a long, low ray of golden sunshine illuminates Le Pin and the russet red sarments that are still standing to attention, supported by the taut trellising wires in disciplined rows, their architecture accentuated by the lack of leaves. This is a time of year when days like these are to […] Read more >>

EDITOR’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

I think seeing an actual book arrive, neatly nestled in its crisp brown paper parcel, has to be one of the most exciting moments for any editor. Rip open the packaging and there it is: no longer a flat but compliantly shimmying image on the screen of my Mac, but a real, weighty, page-turning, honest-to-goodness […] Read more >>

WINTER SHERRY

Ben Howkins - BREAKING NEWS: after several decades of ‘A glass of white wine please,’ and ‘Would you like a glass of white wine?’, it has finally dawned on many of us that actually we are fed up with the ubiquitous offer of the daily white wine ritual. So often unfulfilling; so often yesterday. Which region? What price? […] Read more >>

A FESTIVE UPDATE FROM STEVEN

Steven Spurrier - Well, here we are at the end of an exhilarating first year for the Académie du Vin Library, with four books published (just!) and six more in the pipeline for 2020. It seems only yesterday (in fact, it’s a good 18 months) since the idea of bringing back the literature of wine first began to […] Read more >>

Okanagan On The Up

Steven Spurrier - Judgement of British Columbia. Photo by WineBC.com The Okanagan Valley in Canada’s British Columbia represents 3,575 of the total 4,249 vineyard hectares planted in the State. The most planted grape varieties in descending order are: Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc across 185 registered wineries. […] Read more >>

Dry Chile

Jamie Ross - There’s no starker image of Chile’s water crisis than Laguna de Aculeo – or what’s left of it. Six years ago it was a scenic 12-square-kilometre lake close to Maipo Valley wine country, on which weekenders from Santiago sailed and jet skied. Now it’s empty. The water receded until it vanished completely last year, leaving […] Read more >>

Monferace, Grignolino Reborn

Robin Kick MW - Noble, refined and pure. These are some of the words that those who know Grignolino well use to describe it. Yet, the variety lingers in the Piemontese shadow of the mighty Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes. In its homeland of Asti/Monferrato, an area that encompasses most of its vineyards as well as Grignolino’s greatest terroir, only […] Read more >>

2019 Loire – Six in a Row!

Jim Budd - Muscadet Pickers Incredibly 2019 is the sixth good quality vintage in the Loire. Incredible because the Loire has never in its recorded history seen six consecutive good to very good vintages – previously a run of three good years has tended to be the maximum that the Loire enjoyed. Since the start of the new […] Read more >>

Montalcino’s Rollercoaster 2019 Vintage

Monty Waldin - Organic Brunello grapes about to be harvested at Col d'Orcia for 2019 Brunello ‘Very happy and rather relieved’ are the words many Montalcino growers might use to describe their feelings following the 2019 harvest. It’s one to file under the ‘abundant but turbulent’ category. Warm, wet spring weather at the end of March provoked an […] Read more >>

Kincade Fire

Norm Roby - HEALDSBURG, CA - OCTOBER 28: A stone facade is all that remains standing at the Soda Rock Winery, which was destroyed by the Kincade fire. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) In the late evening of October 23rd, the Kincade Fire, as it came to be known, was started when gusty winds […] Read more >>

EAT, DRINK AND BE SHERRY NO 4

Ben Howkins - Sherry, Understood, Enjoyed, Celebrated! Fresh from two weeks in the California sun, where I was wearing my Last Drop Distillers (‘seekers of rare, old, exceptional spirits’) hat, I plunged into the UK October autumnal weather with a feeling of huge excitement. Read more >>

The Japanese Indigenous Grape – Koshu

Peter McCombie - Koshu is said to be Japan’s only indigenous grape. It is named after its supposed prefecture of origin: Yamanashi. Koshu is a traditional name for the prefecture, so the grape is literally ‘the grape of Yamanashi’. It has two origin stories. One suggests Koshu was found growing wild in Yamanashi in 1186, allegedly grown from […] Read more >>

Connecting Art and Wine

Steven Spurrier - On a Saturday evening at the end of September I found myself at the Sladers Yard Gallery in West Bay, Dorset, near to where we live, to attend a private view of collages and sculptures by the acclaimed Tuscan-born artist Marzia Colonna, whose work I began collecting thirty years ago when Bella and I moved […] Read more >>

Madiran

Stephen Brook - It’s been 15 years since my last visit to Madiran. I’d forgotten how pretty it was, with its gently rolling Gascon hills interspersed with woodland and vines. But no one would call the wine pretty. Made principally from Tannat grapes, though often softened with a dose of Bordelais varieties, it can be a bruiser, thanks […] Read more >>

Autumnal Rosé

Jason Tesauro - Repeat after me: Rosé is not a vegetable, rosé is not a vegetable. Yet, people still refer to rosé season. There is no rosé season any more than there is a season for white, red, sparkling or sweet. Remember when umami was finally recognized as an official fifth taste along with sweet, sour, salty and […] Read more >>

Harvest at Thienpont 2019

Fiona Morrison MW - Winemaking: Art or Science? This was one of the essay questions that came up when I sat the Master of Wine exam. Having just completed the 2019 harvest at our three domains in Pomerol, Saint Emilion and Castillon, crunching numbers and going back to my school chemistry lessons has been an essential part of the […] Read more >>

Questions asked and some answered…

Susan Keevil - To fully answer the question ‘is Bordeaux better than burgundy?’, I shall sadly never have a cellar (or pocket) deep enough. But there are wine writers from across the ages who have had access to the best of these fabulous wines (we’re talking family money here, stately homes with cellars stacked with Lafite, and colleagues […] Read more >>

Sustainability in Bordeaux

James Lawther MW - Believe it or not, the ‘S’ word is being voiced in Bordeaux. Sustainability has been pushed to the fore and whether through concern for the environment and terroir, or having to face health and safety issues, an environmental movement in various guises is gaining traction. Recent figures from the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de […] Read more >>

October

Steven Spurrier - It has been a busy autumn at the AdVL with the publication of Sherry: Maligned, Misunderstood, Magnificent! by Ben Howkins. This was launched to great acclaim at the Consejo Regulador de Jerez on 15 October under the Presidency of Don Beltran Domecq, who then travelled to London the following week to present a Master Class […] Read more >>

The Rosés of Italy’s Salento Peninsula

Elizabeth Gabay MW - Puglian rosé (rosato) has deep roots. There is even a local family name Rosato. Recognition in the wider world for the rosati of the southern part of the Salento peninsula can be traced back to 1943, when a twist of fate brought American General Charles Poletti to the region. In need of army supplies, he […] Read more >>

South Australia Loosens The Stays

Natasha Hughes MW - At first glance, no one would take Steve Pannell for a member of the aristocracy. On the morning I meet him at his McLaren Vale winery, he’s wearing slightly crumpled khaki shorts, a stripey T-shirt and several days’ worth of greying stubble on his chin. Make no mistake, though; if Australia’s winemaking community had a […] Read more >>

A Large Reserve Brings Many Benefits

Giles Fallowfield - Alice Paillard ‘We have a lot to thank Jean-Claude Rouzaud for,’ says Alice Paillard. We (Alice and I) were talking about the just completed 2019 Champagne harvest and how wine growers generally seem more prepared to wait for the perfect moment to pick grapes, rather than rush into the vineyards the minute the opening dates […] Read more >>

God’s Work

Joe Fattorini - You wait ages for irony, and then three come at once. Here's an explanation of terroir told in a joke by a German historian. ‘An angel came down from heaven to visit a winemaker on the Mosel,’ begins Achim Ochs. We're on a tour of the once mighty wine-trading town of Traben-Trarbach. ‘The winemaker showed […] Read more >>

In Vino Veritas

Susan Keevil - Bringing together wine writing from across the ages for our new anthology In Vino Veritas has been a wonderfully self-indulgent way to spend my working day – work, really? I can choose between exploring the English wine bubble with Justin Howard-Sneyd and experiencing the 2019 harvest at Le Pin with Fiona Morrison for a more […] Read more >>