Croatia Diaries Part 4: The Final Frontier

POSTED ON 23/08/2009

Next week Decanter Magazine unveils the results of its World Wine Awards, in which Croatia is hailed as a major force in wine because it won more gold medals than more established rivals, among them the United States, New Zealand, Portugal and Argentina. This is a major achievement of course, but it will come as no surprise to the Croatians themselves, who’ve been making excellent wine over the past couple of decades.

Croatia part 3. Grasevina, Plavac Mali and the best restaurant in Istria.

POSTED ON 16/08/2009

I was pleased to see recognition for Croatia in the Telegraph online today. The article underlines the growing importance of this exciting wine country and I feel sure that once the UK wine trade has got its head around just how good these wines are, we’ll start to see a Tesco Finest Graševina, an Asda Extra Special Malvazija and a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Plavac Mali. On second thoughts, don’t hold your breath.

Schluck, Barossa and Beethoven: 20 Years of Stonewell

POSTED ON 09/08/2009

Applied together, the words living and legend should be used sparingly, but in the case of Peter Lehmann the two go as naturally together as jam and doughnuts. Described by the late Len Evans as ‘a cheerful light heavyweight with a face like a dried mudflat’, Peter Lehmann is the man who held the wine industry together at a time when the white wine revolution and vine-pull scheme of the 1980s threatened to blow the Barossa away.

Wine writers and critics..

POSTED ON 02/08/2009

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bob Dylan

Reflections on a Chardonnay

POSTED ON 27/07/2009

I had bought a case of the 1997 Chamonix Chardonnay from Franschhoek after coming across it at a Decanter Magazine tasting of South African chardonnays when I had been impressed by its relatively austere, dry character, which I thought resembled a good white burgundy. And the case served me very well, so when I found this bottle lurking at the back of the cellar, I thought I’d give it a try. It was just starting to oxidise now, still dry, still drinkable but just a little too rancid butter to be enjoyable.

Croatia. Part 2: The Istria Connection

POSTED ON 19/07/2009

Our tour leaders, Saša Špiranec and Ivona Grgan, promised, in Istria, a wine and food gourmet paradise. Our first stop, dinner at Nenad Kukurin's restaurant Kukuriku on a terrace in the hills overlooking the bay at Opitija (, lived up to its billing. Istria is the heart-shaped peninsula sitting in the north-western corner of Croatia, and being so close to Italy, it’s not surprising to find a strong Italian influence here. Kukuriku is the epitome of sophistication, its food based on the principles of ‘mar e monte’, i.e. sea and mountain.

Miss Croatia and I – part 1

POSTED ON 12/07/2009

Miss Croatia, the personable and not wholly unpulchritudinous 21-year old Ivana Vasilj, is learning how to hold a wine glass. Like me, she is in Ilok in the far eastern corner of Croatia on the border with Serbia. I’m there for the wine while in her case it’s because she’s being sponsored by Juraj Mihaljević, owner of Principovac Wine Cellars, for this year’s Miss World contest in the US.

note position of wine glassnote position of wine glass

Viva La Revolucion – Chile Drinks Wine

POSTED ON 06/07/2009

Tiramisu in smart Las Condes is the place to see and be seen on a Saturday night in Santiago. By nine, the trendy Italian hotspot is heaving with beautiful people washing down pizza and seafood with not quite so beautiful piscola, an unholy alliance of coke and pisco, along with beer, pisco sours, coke, Canada Dry, and the occasional bottle of Montes Cabernet Sauvignon or Casa Silva Carmenère.

3 Tastings Days in Bordeaux

POSTED ON 29/06/2009

I’ve just come back from Vinexpo, the big wine trade fair in Bordeaux, where I spent a surprisingly happy three days. Last time I went 6 years ago, I swore I wouldn’t go again because it was sweltering and the traffic was appalling, but this year I had a good reason to go, to present a seminar on Cahors and Argentinian malbec, and it was much better than I feared. Partly because the weather was good and the air-conditioning worked. Partly because I didn’t go to any of the fancy châteaux dinners, least of all the Château Lafite dinner on the Sunday night.

Champagne, Sake, South West France and Victoria's Secret

POSTED ON 25/06/2009

I'm at Vinexpo this week for the big Bordeaux wine fair, more of which in due course.


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