House of Mandela: The Wine the Mandelas Built

POSTED ON 30/07/2010

Opportunities for fine dining may have been somewhat limited within the confines of Victor Verster prison in Paarl, but Nelson Mandela always enjoyed a small glass of semi-sweet Nederberg wine with his Sunday lunch during his incarceration. Today, Mandela’s legacy is set to become entwined with South Africa’s R20 billion (£1.75bn) wine industry.

Makaziwe MandelaMakaziwe Mandela

No Drama, En Rama

POSTED ON 27/07/2010

I have to confess that in the grand scheme of wine drinking and enjoyment, sherry is not as high on my list as I feel it should be. So how come I am salivating at the prospect of opening the bottle of sherry waiting for me in the fridge at the moment and how come I have already consumed three of its ilk since I picked up half a dozen a month ago from Lea & Sandeman at a tenner a bottle ? The answer is simple. It’s simply delicious, no more, no less.

Richard Geoffroy's Dom Perignon Challenge

POSTED ON 18/07/2010

As I arrived at Moët et Chandon’s posh premises in Grosvenor Crescent to taste the new 2002 Dom Pérignon with its affable chef de cave Richard Geoffroy, I received an email from a friend looking for a 'special' bottle (possibly - but not necessarily - magnum) of champagne for a family friend's 90th birthday. ‘My impressionistic take is that you pay for the label with Dom Pérignon etc. So best to avoid'.

Such a Night

POSTED ON 12/07/2010

Not the World Cup this time, although well done Spain! No, Last Thursday evening I spent mostly taking my clothes off in public. First came the tie, off and into the audience, next the shirt, swirled above my head and into the audience. And lastly the trousers, off, over my head and whoosh, gone. It’s not something I do every day, I’d like you to understand, strutting and swaying on a stage to the sound of Christina Aguilera singing Lady Marmalade. I was in good company, the company that is, of my fellow Semillons.

Investing in Bordeaux: Then and Now

POSTED ON 05/07/2010

You have savings, £50,000, let’s say, and you’d like to know how best to invest your money. You leave it in the bank, which before the recession, when interest rates were high, would have given you a decent return. Today, it’s festering frustratingly.

The Big Society - A tasting at The Wine Society

POSTED ON 30/06/2010

The Wine Society is a mail order wine club with a difference. The International Exhibition Co-operative Wine Society was founded as a non-profit-making organization when a ‘committtee of gentlemen’ met in the Albert Hall in 1874 to discuss setting up a co-operative company to purchase wine ‘in unadulterated condition’.


POSTED ON 22/06/2010

There was an article way back in the American wine magazine, The Wine Spectator, on BYO (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants. One of the magazine’s reporters had held his nose to rummage in the dustbins of various American BYOs and came up with the depressing conclusion that most people had taken along the cheapest wines they could lay their hands on.

From Chalet to Chateauneuf: Butlins Fine But Fun wine list

POSTED ON 14/06/2010

I have to confess that I don’t know a great deal about Butlins, never having been on a Butlins holiday, or whatever you go to Butlins for. Of course if you’re more used to foreign travel, it’s easy to be snobby about Butlins but my ex-neighbours used to take the family there and by all accounts had a great time. The fact that 1.5 million people pass through Butlins every year shows that there’s more interest here than you might have realised, if, like me, you’re ignorant of what goes on at its Bognor Regis, Skegness and Minehead resorts.

My Kingdom for Cahors

POSTED ON 07/06/2010

William Shakespeare, bless, distorted the historical record for the sake of poetic licence when he had Richard III crying out on the field of Bosworth in 1485: ‘a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’. What he was more likely to have said was ‘Cahors, Cahors, my kingdom for Cahors’, only his French pronunciation was rubbish, so thanks to the bard, it appeared that he was offering his entire kingdom for a horse.

Sur le Pont Valentré, On y déguste, On y déguste...Sur le Pont Valentré, On y déguste, On y déguste...

A Man for All Seasons: Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanéee-Conti

POSTED ON 17/05/2010

Since the Decanter Man of the Year Award is notable for the quality of the party thrown by the winner of the award, it seemed like a grievous oversight that until this year the magazine had never once given the gong to a Burgundian. I thought it was high time there was some decent wine to drink at the party so when last autumn I suggested somewhat tongue in cheek to Sarah Kemp that the obvious candidate for the award was Aubert de Villaine of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, I hardly thought that she would take me up on the suggestion.

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