Articles on

One of my more convincing excuses for the lack of posts on this blog is that I spend eight hours a day, five days per week in a staff writer role producing content for the magazine and encyclopaedia sections of the search engine website

Most of my time recently has been devoted to writing producer profiles; I have also worked on some food and wine pairing pages and am currently updating material on German wine regions. Listed below are some of the stand-alone articles which I have also authored, with links to the relevant web page.

15.1.17 London Celebrates Another Age of Gin The current popularity of the spirit prompts some historical digging into the Gin Craze of the 1700s.

1.1.17 2016 Casts a Pall Over the Wine World Brief portraits of some of the key wine personalities who passed away in 2016.

11.11.16 Why Do We Celebrate with Bubbles? Drinking, spraying and smashing bottles.

30.10.16 Haunting Tales from the Vineyard Ghoulish stories from wine estates and whisky distilleries too.

4.7.16 Going Native on Independence Day The options for drinking native North American varieties on the 4th of July.

27.4.16 The Ultimate Wine Lover’s Leaning Experience Highlighting some of the place places in Europe to study about wine “among the vines”.

10.3.16 Wine Book a Hit and Myth Affair Non-academic review of Terror and Other Myths of Winemaking by  Mark A. Matthews


A Pair of Pauillac Second Wines

Catching up on some of my tasting notes from workplace tastings… These from 23.12.16.

A couple of second wines with some bottle age. I had some concerns about the ’86 beforehand – an auction purchase of something likely to be full mature at best. These concerns were justified, as it turned out.

Lacoste Borie 1996 Pauillac (Second wine of Grand-Puy Lacoste)
Creamy nose with sweet Blackcurrant pastel in the background. Dry with balanced tannins. Savory flavours, leathery with a of sweetness and berry fruit on tongue. Decent length. [88]

Reserve de la Comtesse 1986 Pauillac (Second wine of Chareau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande)
Medicinal, herbal nose. Palate dry and tired, touch metallic on the finish, though this was shared by another wine tasted and may have had something to do with ambient conditions. [75-80]

Bock Cabernet Franc 2013, Villány

A little bit of research before introducing this wine at our end-of-week staff tasting at Wine-Searcher Towers whetted my appetite. Villány in the south of Hungary is the country’s key red wine region. Cabernet Franc is developing a reputation as a speciality there, and I have read several comments from producers who favour it over the other Bordeaux varietals. If you have enjoyed wines such as Paleo from Le Macchiole in Bolgheri, and fuller-bodied examples from the Loire this may be worth searching for, though you may need to dig a little. I could not find a tech sheet for this vintage on the estate website but the 2014 was aged in large oak barrels for 12 months.

Nose of cherry, licorish and forest floor; deep and complex. Elegant tannins refreshing acidity, cherry on the mid palate through to the finish, touch of pencil shaving also. Good texture to offset the structure – 14% abv but no heat is discernible [92]

Carmen Gold Reserve Cab ’97. And Moose

While back in the UK for a month I made the smallest of dents in my stock of wine stored in my long-suffering parents’ garage (stored in a foam-lined cupboard made by my dad, bless him, as they are next to the washing machine and dryer).

The 1997 Carmen Gold Reserve Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was purchased in 2008 or so, from the UK Wine Society’s showroom at Stevenage. It cost maybe 18 pounds per bottle; indicative of the sort of bargain a drive to Hertfordshire could yield, and was accompanied by a half case of 1995 Catena (Alta?) Malbec at 20 pounds on the nose which was also a steal.

The last bottle was taken to dinner with Swedish friends who were cooking moose. It was actually intended to be the back up to a 2001 Villero Barolo from Boroli which was sadly corked. The Chilean probably should have been the main feature all along.


Despite its age the nose was intensely fruity, just on the fresh side of blackcurrant jam, with a background of creamy oak and only a touch of leather of spice. The colour was still pretty solid, and the palate carried on from the nose with soft supple tannins and a silky texture. The long, long finish was all about that ripe black fruit, with plenty of extract draping over the tongue. 93 points.

I know changes in trends in winemaking mean that longevity of specific wines are not guaranteed to be similar over time, even if vintages are comparable. But I do recommend buying a few premium South American wines on release and stashing them away for a few years. Compared to options from France and California, they still represent a great value way of giving yourself mature, yet fruit-laden wines which really sing.

As for the moose? If you haven’t had it, the cuts we had reminded me very much of venison fillet, though probably a little more gamey. Very low in fat and needing to be cooked with care to avoid drying out.

Niepoort Port Trio

Another of our regular Friday afternoon tastings at Wine-Searcher Towers. My palate is not usually on the best form at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon, but, having stocked all three wines during my time at Bottle Apostle in London, I was looking forward to this trio. They did not let me down.


Niepoort White Port Creamy, nutty floral nose. Some (very pleasant) honeyed medicinal notes on palate, along with tropical fruit notes. Vanilla and caramel come through on finish. [90]

Niepoort 10 Year Old Tawny Port Nutty nose with some tropical fruit lurking behind (served a bit too cold?) . Some red berry fruit across tongue, medicinal cherry flavours. Walnut? Long complex finish featuring hoped-for creme brûlée [91]

Niepoort LBV Port 2011 A very pleasant surprise, despite being served rather cool. Dark cherry fruit on nose, fruits of the forest strudel, spice, prune, then some high floral notes. Bright cherry fruit on palate. Medium weight for Port, though creamy, soft tannins, maybe just a suggestion of minerality? Creamy finish with butterscotch notes. Lovely drink [91]

Wine-Searcher Staff Tasting 25.6.16

A belated write-up of an after-hours tasting at Wine-Searcher, with a broad selection of New Zealand wines chosen as a send-off for a colleague returning to the USA. I selected the wines; my colleagues tasted them blind.

Riverby Estate Gruener Veltliner 2014 Marlborough ($19.99 Caro’s) Subtle floral notes and pear on the nose. Fresh and crisp with more pear and citrus on the palate and a mineral edge. This is the first Kiwi-GV I’ve tasted where I could easily detect varietal character. Fairly priced, too. [88]

Bellbird Spring Home Block White 2013 Waipara ($30.90 from producer) Previously tasted in 2014 when was delicately floral and elegant. Now the emphasis is on great texture – a hallmark of whites from Guy Porter. Ripe honeyed apples, great length, now absolutely a food wine. [90]

Staete Landt Riesling Auslese 2009 Marlborough (No longer available) A big sweet ripe mouthful of honeyed lemon. Pleasing if not super-complex. [88]

Stonecroft Gimlet Gravels Zinfandel 2014 Hawkes Bay ($39.99 Caro’s) Licorish nose with a touch of bret. A big mouthful of soft ripe fruit, but at 12.5% it did not show the heady fruitcake of a Californian example – no-one guessed the grape variety. Very drinkable. [89]

Puriri Hills Estate Reserve 2008 Clevedon (c. $94.99 Caro’s) Floral notes, clove and Indian spices, cinnamon and earthy notes. Elegantly structured with supple tannins overlaid with forest fruits, creamy finish. Very impressive. [94]

Biliancia La Collina 2009 Hawkes Bay ($89.99 Caro’s) Meaty yet floral nose. Violets, maybe Olbas pastilles? Very ripe and juicy attack with lovely plum and red berries, with just enough tannin to balance. Cream, vanilla and cinnamon come through on mid-palate through to to lengthy finish. Hedonistic and thoroughly enjoyable – though no-one identified it as Syrah. [95]

Folium at Boutique Wine Fair, Auckland

I helped my former employers Steve and Bridget of Stanley Estates on their stall at the Boutique Wine Fair in Auckland on the 5th of this month. On the table next door was the very affable Takaki Okada of Folium wines in Brancott, Marlborough. Details of his interesting story and the techniques used on his 8-hectare property are available elsewhere on the web, so I will focus on my tasting notes. The venue was dark and noisy; these are nuanced wines which ideally warrant more reflection.

Folium Sauvignon Blanc 2014 12 year old vines on stony soil. Melon skin at forefront for me on nose with subtle elderflower and lime notes. Palate complex, elegant with lime, melon, mineral, subtle gooseberry and grassiness [90]

Folium Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2014 From the original 20 year old plot and sandy soils. A complex wine with depth and texture combined with minerality and crisp acidity. Lime and grapefruit cut broader melon flavours. Worthy of lobster, scallops and pancetta etc [92]

Folium Pinot Noir 2014 From vines planted in 2003. Leafy on the nose. Delicate, elegant palate, bright and refreshing cherry fruit up front then savoury notes. Restrained style but subtle depth comes through on finish [87]

Folium Pinot Noir Reserve 2013 From vines planted in 1996 Subtle cherry floral notes on nose with earthy low notes. Broader rounder palate than sibling with pure extract and gentle creamy, nutty notes. Dry and elegant with fine tannins [90]