Wines of the week

At a seminar on South African wines early this year, several winemakers said that a big chunk of the country’s future lay in blends. Their idea was that, while varietals offered a chance to compare their wines, and therefore, terroirs, with other wines of the world, the still-developing perceptions of South African wines offered them considerable freedom in creating interesting blends.
       Not all the wines on offer right then made the point, but two wines I drank last week did, most
 emphatically. Over dinner at Lime Wood, a thoroughly splendid new country-house hotel (, and at enough leisure to savor the wines, I tried Sadie Family Vineyards “Palladius” 2007, a white blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette,

Go ahead, make my day

This September 24th is International Grenache Day. The idea originated at the First International Grenache Symposium in June in the Southern Rhone. Over 250 Grenache producers, journalists, and retailers from 23 countries pledged to make it the day to celebrate Grenache each year as "the grape you know, you just don't know it." A Grenache "Primer" is part of a viral email campaign, and events will be taking place in the USA, UK, Spain, Australia, India, Brazil, China and Nigeria. The Australian contingent suggested that loud, colorful shirts be worn on the day by restaurant/retail staff, attendees and winemakers to further amplify it. (That would make it a year-round event in San Diego and Florida, wouldn’t it?) Grenache Day activities around the world will be profiled with ideas, menus, and food pairings on

Tango through the tulips

A walk-around tasting like the Argentine event below can only provide a snapshot, of course, but I did have the advantage of tasting some wines in advance, at the Decanter World Wine Awards, as well as some tips from my colleagues. I dipped in and out of several Torrontes that were on display, but they were generally disappointing, in the sense that they were all over the place in terms of style, weight, and flavor—there’s nothing remotely like a consensus here. The best, like the Alta Vista 2009 and Bodega Colome 2009 (both from the northern region of Salta) were intriguing, lovely wines, intensely aromatic

This sporting life. . .

The social season kicked off with a whump at Decanter’s World Wine Awards dinner at the Royal Opera House (than whose glitz few can hardly be glitzier)—plenty of great wines and winemakers, and a few surprises. There was a huge roar when the International Trophy for “best sparkling wine” was announced—it went to Ridgeview, a British wine producer, based in Sussex (southern England, of course). The wine’s made 100 percent from Chardonnay, and it is indeed refined and vivacious. It won a
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