Monthly Archives: January 2016

Wild boars run amok – Derby Telegraph Sat January 30th 2016

Published on

Last weekend, top Tuscan wine estate, Isole e Olena, made the pages of two national newspapers. Nothing unusual in that; you may well think. After all, wine reviews are featured in most of the weekend supplements and you’d expect the wines of a leading producer to be much recommended. However, Isole wasn’t, on this occasion, namechecked for the exceptional quality of its wines but for its costly desire to protect itself from marauding beasts. For, Isole e Olena, like many other Chianti producers in Tuscany, has to cope not just with the usual trials and tribulations associated with agricultural winemaking but also with voracious packs of wild boars. In recent years, the boar population has soared and they have become such a nuisance that The Observer reported, “the regional government has proposed a controversial solution: a measure that would kill, by hunting and other means, nine out of 10 wild …


Dr. Melk and the Spiders from SARS – Derby Telegraph Sat January 23rd 2016

Published on

Today, as a tribute to David Bowie, I’m handing my column over to the man who, inspired by Bowie’s era defining album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, christened his latest white wine release, Dr. Melk and the Spiders from Sars. Before I do, I should explain that he goes by the name of Rick or The Liberator and that he wants you to “drink the episode.” Don’t worry, if you read on it’ll all make sense. Beyond the periphery of South Africa’s conventional vineyard regions lie great vinous treasures, resigned to anonymity; forgotten, abandoned or just simply undiscovered. It’s my mission, as an intrepid Cape Crusader, to seek out and liberate these rare wines. Some say that The Liberator conjures up images of a disguised, cloaked superhero, charging around the Winelands rescuing bottles in distress. But I’m no Superman. I’m just plain Rick; …

JAN 16

T, R and Y – Derby Telegraph Sat January 16th 2016

Published on

In last week’s column, inspired by a newly launched initiative called Try January, I recommended a selection of wines from some of the world’s lesser known wine regions. Today, sticking with Try January’s exploratory theme, I’d like to shine a light on a few unusual grape varieties that begin with the letters T, R and Y. Torrontes: Unlike Malbec, which has become synonymous with Argentina but actually originates from France, Torrontes is a bona fide Argentinian grape variety that produces uniquely aromatic and exotic white wines. From the Mendoza region of Argentina, the Vida Organica Torrontes 2014 by Familia Zuccardi has a lovely texture and weight with a juicy fruit character of rose, grapefruit, peach and pear. It’s a beautifully precise, floral wine that works particularly well with Oriental and Asian cuisine. Touriga Nacioncal: If any grape can justifiably lay claim to being Portugal’s national grape variety it’s Touriga Nacioncal …

try jan1

Try not Dry January – Derby Telegraph Sat January 9th 2016

Published on

Whenever I hear mention of ‘Dry January’, I’m reminded of satirist Ambrose Bierce’s amusing take on abstention – “Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.” Personally, and I say this with some considerable pride, I’ve never, as yet, fallen prey to the easy temptations of pleasure denial and, fingers crossed, I never will. But pursuing a mildly hedonistic path isn’t always easy, especially in the bleak midwinter, and us iron willed drinkers are open to anything that will help us resist the – oh, so – beguiling attractions of abstinence! Thankfully, there is now an alternative to the reductive message of ‘Dry January’ and it, too, comes in prefix form. It’s called ‘Try January’ and it fits perfectly with our New Year desire for change and new possibility. If you like the idea, why not take it upon yourself to try wine from …


Secret Spain – Derby Telegraph Sat January 2nd 2016

Published on

Well, the party’s over and most of us are facing a frugal month or two after the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. To help with the January belt tightening, I’ve picked out 3 great value reds from ‘Secret Spain’ that are dead certs to bring a little cheer during this most miserable of months. Situated just south of the famous Rioja vineyards in northern Spain, Campo de Borja is a wine region that’s renowned for its love of punchy red grape variety, Garnacha Tinto. Over 75 percent of Campo de Borja’s vines are given over to Garnacha and the tenacious grape seems to positively thrive in the region’s harsh continental climate. In winter, temperatures can fall as low as – 7°C, while summers are hot and dry, with temperatures soaring to 40°C but stoical Garnacha Tinto remains unfazed, vigorous and productive throughout it all. At the Bodegas …