The latest news and views from the Académie du Vin Library

Helping us through Lockdown

Ben Howkins - The best headline I have seen so far (and indeed, they are in short supply this month) captions a letter to The Daily Telegraph. It is headed ‘Dry – like Sherry’ and reads: ‘Sir, Visiting my local bottle bank, the signs for a dry January are not great.’ Well done, London E1. Sherry does seem […] Read more >>

’Tis the Season for Cream Sherry!

Ben Howkins - If you run a Google search for ‘crème de la crème’ you are met with three delicious options, crème brulée, crème fraiche and crème caramel. But if you Google ‘cream sherry’, you will be bewildered beyond measure. I was. (I suggest you look it up instead in chapter four of my book, Sherry – Maligned, […] Read more >>

From Sherry Cobbler to Rebujito

In common with many drinks that enjoy international fame, sherry has, in its history, formed the basis for cocktail or aperitif type drinks. The two most famous are the Sherry Cobbler and the Rebujito. In May 2007, I published an article ‘Rebujito, an English invention called Sherry Cobbler’ for a local newspaper La Voz de […] Read more >>

Sherry: Raise a glass together

Ben Howkins - As we move seamlessly from fino and manzanilla into autumn’s call of amontillado and palo cortado, do our minds turn south to Jerez where today’s temperature is 30˚C as opposed to the UK where it is 15˚C? Do we yearn for Andalucía, flamenco and every day stretching into mañana? You bet. Covid 19 has prevented […] Read more >>

Important Reminders

Ben Howkins - That most readable of wine wordsmiths, Johnny Ray of the Spectator, caught my eye (again) last month. Empty wine bottles were the subject. Recycling was the context. Putting on a different spin, as it were, I used to jettison the bottle straight into the blue topped recycling bin, but such was the explosive crescendo of […] Read more >>

Fiona Morrison MW Meets Ronan Sayburn MS

In between writing up her tasting notes for Bordeaux’ 2019 En Primeurs (‘Gorgeous wines’), Fiona Morrison has had a busy week spreading the news about the latest version of 10 Great Wine Families – A Tour Through Europe. Her book, now boasting a smart new cover for its latest print run, was the hot topic […] Read more >>

Tales of Michael Broadbent

A few weeks ago I gave a webinar to the members of 67 Pall Mall on the theme of ‘Tales of Michael Broadbent’. Michael has been my inspiration and my mentor throughout my life in wine, and it made perfect sense to me that it was a new edition of his groundbreaking book, Wine Tasting, […] Read more >>

Famous Faces and Names

Ben Howkins - I was nearly blown off my sherry ladder last month. Reorganizing my wine cellar, I came across a neatly hand-written label stating ‘Mid 19th century Sherry’. Sourced via La Vigneronne, this piece of vinous history had kindly been given to me on my 50th birthday many moons ago. Crikey. Hands up who would like to […] Read more >>

Spring Scents

Fiona Morrison MW - For many of us, this Corona time is as if someone had pushed the pause button on our lives.   I don’t think I have spent two months in a row at home for at least a decade and our mutual grounding in our respective households has given us much food for thought. Don’t worry, I’m […] Read more >>

It’s ‘En Rama’ Time!

Ben Howkins - Hands up all those who have enjoyed a copita or two of sherry in the last 24 hours? Good. One hand up if you have a glass of fino or manzanilla in your hand now? Enjoy. Hands up all those who are enjoying finer, older, aged, more sensual sherries than your usual tipple? Excellent. Social […] Read more >>

Never Wait for that Special Occasion

Ben Howkins - I don’t know about you, but in my wine cellar, there are certain bottles of wine that have multi scuffed back labels. These tend to be my older, finer wines. Wines that I earmark for ‘that special occasion’. They have become friends over the years, gently reposing in my wine rack until smilingly disturbed by […] Read more >>

Eat, Drink and Be Sherry No 5

Ben Howkins - Firstly, I do hope that you and yours are safe and sound amidst this surreal turmoil in which we all find ourselves. Although this is not the time for socializing as such, it may prove to be a time of prolonged reflection and relaxation that we never really expected to benefit from. How to make […] Read more >>

Tribute to Michael, from Simon

Simon McMurtrie -   When I was a young publisher at Mitchell Beazley (I was 25 and Michael was 64) one of the first titles we published was the second edition of Michael Broadbent’s Great Vintage Wine Book. It was such a pleasure to work with Michael on this incredible book but there was no doubting he was […] Read more >>

Memories of Michael Broadbent

Steven Spurrier - How does one remember someone who was a role model in the wine world and a benchmark as a teacher and communicator?  Michael has been part of my life since I first met him at Christie’s in 1966, soon after he’d recreated the famous wine auctions there. I recall watching him taste from a long […] Read more >>

Eat, Drink and Be Sherry No 4

Ben Howkins - There is usually a valid historical reason why some wine regions in Europe produce sparkling or fortified wines, or indeed spirits, instead of regular wine styles. In most cases it is because the ensuing wine is not very good. Champagne’s grapes are well known – predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – but not enough sun […] Read more >>

Ben Howkins Takes a ‘Real’ Look at Sherry

Ben Howkins - The prefix ‘Royal’, or ‘Real’ in Spanish, assumes a certain status, especially when it refers to a sport, as in the ‘Real Madrid’ football team. The same can be said about those fortunate wine producers or wine merchants who can respectfully boast a ‘Royal Appointment’ tag onto their business. The three best known ‘Royal Appointment’ […] Read more >>


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 >>


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 >>


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 >>


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 >>


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 >>

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 >>


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 >>

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 >>

Steven’s September Update

Steven Spurrier - Exactly this time last year I was lunching with Hugh Johnson and Ben Howkins at their Club in Saint James’s and was bemoaning the fact that modern wine books were either well-written but weighty reference books or buying guides with recommended rankings on the 100 point scale. Read more >>

A new harvest looms

Fiona Morrison MW - It is the end of August and our adrenalin is rising. Step by step the grapes are inching towards maturity. Step by step we begin to analyze the data: sugar and acidity first and then with time the anthocyanins (the pigments which affect the colour and the structure of berries). Step by step we walk through the […] Read more >>

Chateau Musar

Susan Keevil - Following my trip to Lebanon recently I’ve been reading up on my ‘Sergeisms’. Serge Hochar (1939–2014) was the creator of Lebanon’s iconic red wine, Chateau Musar, and a more charismatic winemaker you will rarely meet. Read more >>


Fiona Morrison MW -   July being a calm season (we are just nervously watching the effects of the drought and doing rain dances in the vineyards), I thought I should turn my attention to the whos, whys, whens, hows and whats of the wine business, especially the way we communicate about wine. This, you may think, should come […] Read more >>

Eat, Drink and be Sherry No 2.

Ben Howkins - Last month, I had the good fortune to sit next to my old bachelor flatmate at a small party to celebrate his 75th birthday. Nothing particularly remarkable about that, except that my old flatmate happened to be the ‘World’s greatest living explorer’, Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt. We shared a flat in South Kensington and then […] Read more >>

Steven’s July update

Steven Spurrier - It’s been a busy month. Our commemorative edition of Michael Broadbent’s seminal Wine Tasting continues to draw praise and we will be launching Sherry – Maligned, Misunderstood, Magnificent! by Ben Howkins in September. This month, when people’s minds have been on Wimbledon, Britain’s choice of a Prime Minister or getting ready for the holidays, on […] Read more >>

10 Great Wine Families: Book Launch and Tasting

Académie du Vin Library - A very special gathering of consumers and trade was held at Berry Brothers & Rudd in St James’, London, on the 10th July, to celebrate the launch of 10 Great Wine Families – A tour through Europe by Master of Wine Fiona Morrison. In the second title from the Académie du Vin Library, still hot […] Read more >>


Susan Keevil - I’ve been Lebanized. I’m not driving the streets of Henley like a Beiruti taxi-driver (a sure way to instant license loss now I’m back here in the UK) but I’ve become a total convert to this country’s array of food – and the wines that almost miraculously match it. For me, the most startling combo […] Read more >>