Uncategorized, Wine Industry


I’ve just written a new piece for The Buyer, the online wine mag for the on-trade.  It was a bit of a tricky one to approach, as I was desperate to get my point across without sounding stupid.  That’s often pretty hard for me.  Recently I’ve heard directly from women in the wine trade about struggles against sexism in worryingly recent times.  So I just wanted to write an article from a boy’s point of view, who’s naively not realised the issue before.  Here’s my take on why the Women in Wine deserve to be celebrated!

Planes, trains, and…er…trains to the Douro!

Portugal, Sherry and Port, Uncategorized


I went on holiday, years ago, to Sardinia. For one reason or another we spent the whole time driving round the island trying to “do Sardinia” in a week. Pinging it from Cagliari to San Pietro, up to Alghero, and across to Porto Cervo. I spent more time in the car than outside. And on the drive back to Cagliari I went a funny shade of green and had to take a breather. Ever since I’ve struggled with car-sickness as soon as the roads get a bit bendy. My first trip to the Douro Valley in Northern Portugal nearly killed me!

Crossing Off The “Wine-o Bucket List” With A Trip To The Douro

Portugal, Sherry and Port, Uncategorized, Wine Tours


Once you start really getting into wine, it’s not enough to just head down to the shops, buy a bottle, and get stuck in. You need to be there, you need to wander round the vineyard and soak it all up. Couple of reasons really, one is that you get to drink the wine with the locals, eating the local food, doing your best to feel like part of the furniture. The other is that vineyards are invariably beautiful places. One wine region is chalked up on most people’s lists as the number one “need to visit”, and lucky little me got to go there a couple of weeks back…the Douro valley in Portugal.

Sandeman’s 225th Birthday Party

Portugal, Sherry and Port, wine dinners, Wine Industry


Some events you get invited to and you think “yeah this is going to be pretty good!” Unfortunately you go into some of them with that attitude and they disappoint. Luckily for me, and everyone who attended, Sandeman’s 225th birthday party’s London leg was not one of them. I thought it’d be great, and it was!

Notes on Northern Spain #3: One For The Heavy Red Drinkers

Reds, Spain

I love drinking Port. I first starting drinking it at the last hockey match before christmas, in the in-goal half time team talk. To be fair, that was probably the old supermarket’s value own brand, but luckily over the years I’ve managed to try lots of different examples, and I’ve really loved them. If you’ve never had port, the styles do tend to vary a bit, but roughly speaking (the ones i’ve had anyway) are really fruity, spicy, and a hint of sweetness throughout.

The jammy fruit comes from grapes on the roasting hot slopes of the spectacularly beautiful Duoro valley, the river which hits the Atlantic in the city of Porto, where the drink gets its name from. And there’s lots of different grapes that go into the blends. Those grapes get grown all the way down the valley, all the way into Spain, here called the Duero…which is what we’re going to have a quick chat about.

Follow the river East from Portugal, you'll find it

Follow the river East from Portugal, you’ll find it

Over in Spain they get processed in the normal way of wine, producing some of the biggest reds in Spain, with all the deep fruit and spiciness you’d expect from the valley. Tempranillo works so well because it’s roasting hot during the day, but the vines are planted up high in the valleys, meaning it’s relatively cold at night. So ripening is rarely a problem, so you get great fruit flavours. Tempranillo, along with other grapes in a similar vein, produce slightly more colour pigments in their skins, so naturally you get darker wine too.

This is the style that wine makers are going for. We spoke last time that Navarre are trying to copy the Rioja style. Well rather cleverly, in my view anyway, the Ribero Del Duero producers are looking to make the distinction. So heavier, fuller, younger drinking wines. So good with those beef pintxos we were eating a couple of weeks back.

The other very important thing from the drinkers’ point of view is that these wines, from a marketing point of view, are still playing second fiddle to the more famous wines from Spain. That means the value for money on offer is right up there with the best in the country.

Gorgeous looking place, but not great if you're not sure if you've left the gas on and need to go back and check!

Gorgeous looking place, but not great if you’re not sure if you’ve left the gas on and need to go back and check!

Up in the northern hemisphere, we’re heading into winter. The first snows are hitting the UK this week apparently (cue mass confusion and closed airports!). Not a bad time to have a few bottles of Duero reds in the cellar.

See you through til spring.