Château d'Haurets vineyard. Photo credit: Jonathan Ducourt @jonathanducourt

Bordeaux’s massive red vineyard is dominated by the Merlot-Cabernet axis. Of the 98,888 hectares (2018 figures) of red plantings (89% of the total AOC surface area) 66% are planted to Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. Do the maths and you’ll see that doesn’t leave a lot of space for anything else.
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Breaking the Merlot-Cabernet Hegemony

James Lawther MW - Château d'Haurets vineyard. Photo credit: Jonathan Ducourt @jonathanducourt Bordeaux’s massive red vineyard is dominated by the Merlot-Cabernet axis. Of the 98,888 hectares (2018 figures) of red plantings (89% of the total AOC surface area) 66% are planted to Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. Do the maths and you’ll see that doesn’t leave […] Read more >>

The Cape Climate Change Experience

Michael Fridjhon - Theewaterskloof Dam Before and After the Drought. Photo Credit: www.dailymaverick.co.za Climate change has become the most pressing social, economic and political issue of the 21st century, with the wine industries of the world implicated in several ways. They are held accountable for the carbon footprint of their activities, and also of their trade. They are […] Read more >>

Mexican Wine: A New Beginning

Norm Roby - The five partners of Madera 5 in Baja California In The Wines of America (1972, revised 1985), wine historian Leon Adams devotes several pages to Mexico. After verifying that Mexican wines began in the 1590s, making them the oldest in America, he adds that Mexico was the likely source of the first vines planted in […] Read more >>

Barolo Bussia: in Praise of Balance!

Michele Longo - Oddero Estate and Winery in the autumn The Bussia vineyard district, located mostly in the township of Monforte d’Alba, is arguably one of the five greatest sites in all of Barolo, and its wines have long enjoyed a lofty reputation. However, not all is fine and dandy with this hallowed vineyard district, and speaking about […] Read more >>

Montpellier Goes Green

Jim Budd - Every year the world of organic wine descends on Montpellier in the last week of January for Millésime Bio, now the largest professional wine fair in the world. Millésime Bio started in a small way 27 years ago in Montpellier with some 40 organic producers from Languedoc-Roussillon. It has now made its home in the […] Read more >>

Modern Armenia Meets the Roots of Wine

Caroline Gilby MW - Noravank, a 13th-century Armenian monastery A decade ago, Armenian wine was barely on anyone’s radar - it was only in 2011 that Zorah winery revealed its first wines and started to show that there is something special about this country. Coincidentally, it was also in 2011 that the discovery of the world’s oldest winery was […] Read more >>

Loire: Frost and Frost Protection

Jim Budd - Frost damage in Bourgueil April 2016 Over the last decade spring frosts in the Loire, especially in April, have unfortunately become so common that #f***legel is now a hashtag (le gel being the ice). Because of the northerly latitude of the Loire, frosts in spring have always been a concern – when they strike, they […] Read more >>

Historic British Vineyards

Stephen Skelton MW - Castle Coch in Cardiff When vineyards first became part of the rural landscape of the British Isles is not known. It is often claimed that the Romans planted vineyards, but real evidence is hard to find. In all probability vines were planted but whether they were successful is another matter. No winemaking equipment, such as […] Read more >>

The Revival of Carignan

Rosemary George MW - Katie Jones' Carignan vineyard The Languedoc has always had something of a love hate relationship with Carignan. For some it is ‘the emblematic grape variety of the south’, but for others it was Carignan, along with Alicante Bouschet and Aramon, that was responsible for the bad image of the south. But now Carignan is enjoying […] Read more >>

Wines of Santorini – Moving into Luxury Territory?

Dr. Liz Thach MW - Reputed to have some of the oldest grapevines on earth, with roots dating to over 400 years old, the island of Santorini in Greece is experiencing some changes that could propel its age worthy Assyrtiko wines into luxury price territory. Long known for its bracingly high acid Assyrtiko wines, which some call the ‘White Burgundy […] Read more >>

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 >>

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 >>

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 >>

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 >>

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 >>

Tuscany

Geography: Located in central Italy. The climate varies from Mediterranean on the coast to continental inland influenced by the Apennines. Wide variation in day and night temperatures. Grape varieties: Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trebbiano Toscano, Vernaccia Significant DOCGs: Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Vernaccia di San Gimig... For a […] Read more >>

Chianti: The Art of Wine

Steven Spurrier - Peter Femfert, the German owner with his Venetian wife Stefania of Fattoria Nittardi, is an artist. He would not think so, for his main profession consists of running Die Galerie, Frankfurt’s leading art gallery specializing in modern painting and sculpture, so he might say that he works with artists, represents them, befriends and understands them, […] Read more >>

Loire: Five Top Restaurants

Jim Budd - La Promenade Restaurant If I am asked for a really good Loire restaurant, here are five that I would always recommend. One is in Anjou, three are in Touraine and one in Chavignol by Sancerre. They are favourites because they are consistently good, the cooking is inventive without being gimmicky and their food is complemented […] Read more >>

California: The Happy Valley

Norm Roby - Winemaker Joe Webb punching down Pinot Noir Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, once dismissed as too ‘remote’, ‘sparsely populated’ and ‘laid back’ is now arguably the most exciting New World region for Pinot Noir. What happened? Located over 125 miles northwest of San Francisco, it remains remote. But it is a rare transverse valley, running east to […] Read more >>

Champagne: A Question of Yield

Giles Fallowfield - Champagne producers agreed to set the maximum yield for the 2019 harvest at 10,200 kilos per hectare, 600kgs/ha down on the base level set for 2018, to produce around 300 million bottles. The CIVC Comité that represents the two sides of the champagne business – the growers and the merchant houses (négociants) – see this […] Read more >>

China: Burying Vines in Winter

CH’NG Poh Tiong - Vines have to be dragged into the ground and buried as the temperature can dive to minus 20 degrees Celsius in winter in Xinjiang It is not possible – not yet anyway – to be buried alive and come back in the flesh. That may be the subject of a future Marvel or DC Comics […] Read more >>