Chapoutier’s class of 2013

If the majority of the press surrounding the 2013 vintage in Bordeaux is to be believed, most en primeur samples should have been gathered up, put in a sack and drowned in the Gironde like so many sickly, malformed kittens. Bordeaux is always the earliest serious wine style to land on the market, and the character of its vintage often imprints itself on the minds of drinkers as speaking for the…

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Gascogne: Of coops and co-ops

A quick intro to the wines of Gascogne... The Côtes de Gascogne, south of Bordeaux, is a sprawling region. There are no main roads, so it’s easy to get lost; this really is La France profonde. Driving from one winery to the next, I reach for the music selection, dithering between Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and the soundtrack to Deliverance. Either would be fitting, especially if played on the…

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Madeira quake

I always find it strange how fortified wines – Sherry, Port and Madeira – are so often portrayed as drinks for vicars and old ladies. The reality is these are drinks for hardcore hedonists. Not because they have (slightly) elevated levels of alcohol, but because the best possess an uncompromising intensity, a thrillingly unique spectrum of flavours and mind-bending levels of complexity. This is…

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