Wachau, Kremstal, and Kamptal

The highlight of a recent trip to Austria was visiting the regions of Wachay, Kremstal, and Kamptal. They’re mostly planted to Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, two varieties with very different needs yet which both thrive next to each other. Read more to find out why, and why quality is so generally high.

The Terroir of Rioja

Winemaking in Rioja has traditionally been all about blending, bringing different sub-regions and grape varieties together to create a reflection of the region as a whole. I recently met a producer who has a very different attitude, refusing to use the Rioja designation on their labels and making single-vineyard wines. Should other Spanish producers follow suit and make wines that are more individual expressions rather than regional blends?

Cru Bourgeois

It can be difficult to find good Bordeaux that’s also affordable. Cru Bourgeois is a category which offers approachable, good-value Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. Read more to find out about these alternatives to expensive Left Bank wines.

Douro Valley

Douro Valley is the heartland of port, the great fortified wine. It’s spectacularly beautiful, with steep, rocky terraces covered in vines. Visiting the region was a long-held ambition of mine, and it did not disappoint.

Vodka

The latest in my series of podcast episodes on spirits: Vodka is the most widely drunk spirit globally, popular because of its clean, neutral taste. The spirit goes back centuries, changing due to fashion and technology. This episode focuses on how vodka is made and how to make sense of a drink that is so deliberately flavourless.

Cork

The cork industry has suffered in the last twenty-five years due to the number of “corked” wines. On a recent trip to Portugal, I learnt how producers are working very hard to redeem the image of the industry.

Meursault

Meursault is a village in the heart of Côte de Beaune famous for producing rich, opulent wines. But things are changing as I found out at a tasting - the wines now are designed to be more expressive of the part of the village they come from.

Cava

Cava is known for being simple and inexpensive, but producers are finally beginning to think about making more expressive, structured wines. I learnt about the new Paraje designation, created with the aim of improving the quality and reputation of cava.

Cider!

Think cider is cheap and sweet? Think again! The growing craft cider movement is drawing on the historic traditions of cider to create drinks that are dry, sophisticated, and unique.

Paso Robles Revisited

Paso Robles is one of my favourite California regions, producing Rhône-style wines as well as Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. A revisit to the area introduced me to some new producers, and confirmed the quality of the wines being made there.

Montilla-Moriles

Montilla-Moriles, 150km inland from sherry, is best known for providing Pedro Ximénez grapes for intensely sweet styles of sherry. But I discovered the region produces remarkable wines in its own right.

The Terroir of Sherry

Terroir usually refers to where the grapes are grown and how the land and the climate affect the style of wine. That's true in sherry, but the terroir is also about where and how the wines are aged. No other wine quite reflects the subtle variants in how it's been made.

Champagne

Champagne is one of the iconic wines of the world. But why is it sparkling? Why is it made like it is? My recent trip to the region gave an insight into the history of style of champagne, which is much imitated but rarely replicated.