Wine Drinking No. 2: Biodynamic vs. Conventional, this time in Manchester

Last Friday, I made my way from a foggy London up to Manchester by train with a clinking suitcase full of bottles, the whites wrapped in ice packs. I needn’t have bothered cooling them because it was icy when I arrived into a strangely deserted station. Call it some kind of sixth sense if you like, or some kind of alignment in the heavens, but I had this funny feeling that we might get exactly…

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Wine Drinking No. 1: Biodynamic vs. Conventional

A week ago, a bunch of us got together with the intention of opening a load of bottles. I prefer to call it a ‘wine drinking’ rather than a ‘wine tasting’. For obvious reasons. The excuse theme was ‘Biodynamic vs. Conventional wines'. Of the 15 people in the room, the majority were normal drinkers and not experts – only a couple of us were really into wine. And we were the only ones who had even…

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Corison: elegant, drinkable, remarkable

For a producer with a well established, albeit understated, reputation, we were surprised to find such a small winery. It lies between Rutherford and Oakville, just next to the main motorway that runs through the Napa Valley, Highway 29. The timber-framed Victorian-style building is the antithesis of some of the flashy modern estates that populate this region. This quiet authenticity was an…

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Terroir in California: A New Hope

There were more than 2,500 wineries operating in the United States before Prohibition was instated in 1920. By its repeal in 1933 there were less than 100. With World War I (1914 – 1918) occurring before this catastrophic policy, and World War II (1939 – 1945) shortly after, there wasn’t much left of the Californian wine industry by the middle of the century. After the table grapes and port-style…

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Wine Rack: Back to the Future

Unwins; deceased. Threshers; defunct. Victoria Wine; departed. The era of the off-licence chain is over. Like Crocs, they died out in the Noughties. And since the Threshers insulting ‘3 for 2’ non-deal of their final years, few of us have looked back. Caught between the low prices of the supermarkets and the good ranges of the independent merchants, they had little to offer. So how come Wine Rack…

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Lea & Sandeman: Classic but up-to-date

Charles Lea and Patrick Sandeman set up their first shop 23 years ago, and now they have four, all dotted around the posher parts of London (Chelsea, Notting Hill, Barnes and Chiswick). If you have one around the corner from where you live, you can consider yourself lucky. Not just because you are probably quite rich, but also because these are excellent shops that stock some thrilling bottles of…

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Tesco Wine Fair: the good, the bad and the ugly

I’m not going to lie to you. The masochist in me just couldn’t wait to go to the Tesco Wine Fair. I’ve been before. I always go; usually alone. It’s my naughty little secret. This is the ticketed event they put on every year for their customers. It costs between £6 and £10 to get in, and they have either one or two sessions during the course of a day. I went to one of the London sessions, at the…

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