In Praise of VA

by blog on 19/01/2022

I love VA (with apologies to Randy Newman) There is a little-known HM Bateman cartoon with a picture of me drinking a beaker of wine, supported by the tagline: The Man Who Liked VA In His Wine. On the floor, reeling, writhing and fainting in coils, are the massed bodies of several well-known wine writers. […]

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2022: In With The New

by blog on 12/01/2022

In 2018, to commemorate the 30th birthday of Les Caves, I wrote a book. At the time of writing, we appeared to be at the peak of our powers. Business was very good indeed, we had several wine bars operating, and other ambitious projects in the pipeline. The book expressed the wonder at the scope […]

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Spotlight on: Testalonga, Swartland

January 12, 2022

After travelling extensively in Portugal and Austria learning his craft, Craig Hawkins returned to South Africa and became the winemaker at top Swartland estate Lammershoek. Craig now makes his own wines under the El Bandito and Baby Bandito labels from various small, organic vineyard sites in Swartland and uses minimal interventions in the winery to […]

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100 Great Natural Wines: The New World – Part Three

January 6, 2022

This is a series profiling the producers on our list who make natural wines. Within this series we will be highlighting some of the extraordinary and rare bottles and vintages that have helped to shape our appreciation of natural wines over the years. Previous posts from our 100 Great Natural Wines series include Austria, Spain, and […]

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Spotlight on: Luddite Farm, Bot River

December 22, 2021

On finishing their studies at agricultural college, Niels and Penny Verburg wanted to make wine but having no access to vineyards led them to leave South Africa in 1989. They returned from Europe in 1995. Niels had been learning his trade and plying his craft as a flying winemaker in France, Chile, New Zealand and […]

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Doug Decants: The Wines of Domaine Thillardon

December 20, 2021

Paul-Henri Thillardon, originally from Frontenas in the south of the Beaujolais region (where his father was a vigneron), settled in the appellation of Chénas in Beaujolais in 2008 at the ripe young age of twenty-two. He had started out as a Burgundy wine merchant in the business of selling grapes, but decided to throw himself […]

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Look Back in Languor: A Review of 2021

December 15, 2021

Time was… …. that at the beginning of the year one sifted through the sediment of one’s knackered Christmas claret, rubbed a tartrate crystal ball and prognose-sticated on all the forthcoming trends in the world of wine. And should none of the predictions come to pass, then no-one was paying any attention really. Hindsight, however, […]

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100 Great Natural Wines: The New World – Part Two

December 8, 2021

This is a series profiling the producers on our list who make natural wines. Within this series we will be highlighting some of the extraordinary and rare bottles and vintages that have helped to shape our appreciation of natural wines over the years. Previous posts from our 100 Great Natural Wines series include Austria, Spain, and […]

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Can biodynamic wines ever be truly vegan?

December 6, 2021

Who wants to know? Well, vegans, presumably. This is not a question that keeps me awake at night, but I know that message boards on forums are full of it. And full of it. As with anything, it boils down to definitions and what one means by veganism, and even what one means by biodynamics. […]

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Spotlight on: Domaine des Vigneaux, Ardèche

December 2, 2021

Christophe was born into a family of vignerons. His great-grandfather already made wine in cellars in the village as well as being a polycultural farmer. His father Gilbert left the cooperative cellar in 1979 to create his own winery and vinify his wine, which he sold at that time to negociants. Christophe joined him in 1994 […]

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