French wines

Top wines from 2017

Top wines from 2017

With the excuse of studying for the WSET Diploma, I’ve tasted a greater variety of wines – both Chilean and foreign – this year than ever before.  The upside is my knowledge and appreciation of wine have expanded exponentially; the downside is that there has been a tectonic shift in my taste. I’m no…

Artistic shades of pink: rosé wine

Artistic shades of pink: rosé wine

Given how versatile it is, it’s surprising that we don’t pay more attention to rosé wine. Perhaps prejudice makes us see rosé wine as less serious than white or red wine? Or maybe it’s because we’ve all, at some time or other, tried one of those awful cloyingly sweet, sickly pink beverages and decided rosé wine…

Tasting French wine – Loire Chenin Blanc

Tasting French wine – Loire Chenin Blanc

Always refreshing and hugely versatile, it’s surprising that Chenin Blanc wines with their aromas of apples and pears and honey are so under-appreciated. Apparently this variety used to be planted in many parts of the world. However it’s an obligingly easy-to-grow variety that, if left unchecked, produces masses of rather dilute grapes lacking in aromas and flavours. Many…

Tasting French wine – Loire Cabernet Franc

Tasting French wine – Loire Cabernet Franc

It ranks 17th in the world in terms of number of hectares planted and yet it barely registers as an option when people are deciding what red wine to buy. Why is this? Perhaps it’s just less flashy than its flashier offspring, the deeper coloured Cabernet Sauvignon, and more structured than the soft, plummy Merlot,…

Tasting French wine – Bordeaux and SW France

Tasting French wine – Bordeaux and SW France

So what has the start of 2017 been like for you? For me it’s been pretty full-on, with round-the-clock translation projects, dog health crises and several intensive weeks studying French wine. All against a backdrop of anxiety about world events; we’re certainly living in interesting times. Well, whatever happens, it’s good to know we…

Sweet wines 5 – chilled or fortified wines

Sweet wines 5 – chilled or fortified wines

Over the last few posts, we’re looked at sweetening dry wines and making sweet wines by using extra sweet grapes. In this post, we’re going to look at a completely different way of making a sweet wine, where the winemaker stops the fermentation before the yeasts have consumed all the sugars. He or she can do this…

Sweet wines 4 – Wines with botrytis or noble rot

Sweet wines 4 – Wines with botrytis or noble rot

In the last three posts, we’ve looked at some of the ways of making sweet wines, particularly by using extra-sweet grapes. There is one other type of very sweet grapes, which are used to make some of the world’s most sophisticated, complex and expensive wines. These are grapes affected by botrytis or noble rot. Botrytis cinerea is…

Pinot Noir wine – love it or hate it?

Pinot Noir wine – love it or hate it?

Ever had a disappointing Pinot Noir and wondered what all the fuss was about? Was it like alcoholic strawberry jam perhaps? Or thin and a bit “off”? Yet some people go into ecstasies about the variety…The thing is Pinot Noir is prone to every problem under the sun: rot can eat its way through the…