Mar 082012

The Jesuit missionaries were the first to plant vines in South America. They had no intention of making wine to sell, merely for their own enjoyment and to serve at mass. Sir Edmund James Palmer Norton (1865-1984) was another sort of missionary, a railroad engineer, and one of the many who went to the Continent to build a network that would span every country. Born in Germany but brought up in England, Norton worked on […]

Mar 072012
The Judgement of Paris

In spite of the title this is not a legal text, rather the story of one of the most remarkable events in the history of wine. The Judgement of Paris, as it later came to be referred to, took place on 24 May 1976. It was blind wine tasting. Eleven highly qualified experts, nine French, one American, and one English, (Stephen Spurrier), met in the Hotel Intercontinental in Paris to judge a selection of red […]

Feb 172012

You may believe the world of wine is a bucolic bed of roses. But behind the scenes fights are common, and not just between supporters of Robert Parker or José Peñin – the American and Spanish top points-awarders. Just as an example, the ‘Cava Wars’ between Codorníu and Freixenet lasted ten years, but the owners of both litigating bodegas never interrupted their usual courtesies to each other whenever they met – without a mention of […]

Feb 152012
The meteoric rise of white wines from the Rías Baixas

Very few Spanish wines regions have had such a meteoric rise from virtual anonymity to a reference point for European white wines as Rías Baixas has, but it is easy to be confused by it all. Confused because Galicia’s Albariño wine region became officially Rías Baixas in 1988. In George Rainbird’s ‘Sherry and the Wines of Spain’ (my copy is a first edition of 1966) the author admits to never having visited Galicia, only to […]

Feb 032012
To lay down or not to lay down, that is the question!

It all began one day when I was chatting to the owner of Marbella’s best-known vinacoteca, or wine store. Julio Carrasco mentioned he had installed a wine cellar in a villa in La Zagaleta urbanisation. Julio, apart from selling the stuff, was building wine cellars, and had delivered 15 to date. This gave me an idea: why not write a series of articles about people who had private wine cellars in their villas? Once I […]

Oct 312011
Spanish artistic food at El Anden Restaurant, Hotel Barceló, Malaga

There is nothing wrong with modern cuisine, or whatever you want to call it, just so long as the gastronomic elements do not became too subordinated to the artistic ones. When the presentation of the food becomes more important than the food itself then it is time to cry Stop! Chefs are of course very much up against it these days. The competition to produce more and more inventive dishes is overwhelming and not good […]

Sep 052011
Bibi Garcia of Cortijo Los Aguilares wins the Swiss Mondial du Pinot Noir competition

Ole!  Bibi Garcia of Cortijo Los Aguilares has done it again! When Andalucian winery Cortijo Los Aguilares won first prize in the Swiss Mondial du Pinot Noir in 2009, there was a certain reluctance to believe that a red wine from Ronda, made using Pinot Noir grapes, could really be awarded the highest accolade in the world.  This annual competition, exclusively for this type of wine, regularly receives more than 1,300 entries from all over […]

Sep 042011
Osteria Pastrani, a new Italian star restaurant in Malaga

Most ethnic restaurants, whether they be Indian, Chinese, Italian or Spanish, serve up food that natives of those countries would not recognise, let alone want to eat. It is usually more about the conception of what we think the food should be rather than what it really is, and authenticity is often way down the list when it comes to showcasing another country’s gastronomic highlights. Quo Vadis was the first ‘Italian’ restaurant in London, in […]

Jul 292011
Coffee in Spain

What is it about coffee in Spain – that makes it so good? I suppose that the same question could be asked of other Mediterranean countries but coffee in Spain is exceptional, by anyone’s standards.  Certainly, just about everywhere, from the most humble bar to the most up-market hotel, serves coffee so good that you could drink bucket-loads of it! I suspect that the quality of the coffee in Spain is so fine because the […]

Jul 182011
Speciality food in Spain - Asador restaurants

Any red-blooded lover of good meat will get excited when he sees the name ‘asador’. An asador is a speciality meat restaurant almost exclusively found in the north of Spain, more specifically in the Basque country – although gradually asadores are opening up even on the Mediterranean coasts. Actually the name is not strictly accurate if it is meant to describe how the meat is cooked.  ‘Asar’ is usually translated into English as ‘to roast’, […]

Jun 272011
Truffle hunting in Spain

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to go truffle hunting in the foothills of the Pyrenees. This is where the best truffles in Spain are found, and at this time of year they are white. The Italian Piedmont region is the home of the most expensive white truffles anywhere. The world record is held by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco, whose 1.5 kilo truffle found near Pisa was auctioned simultaneously in Macau, […]

May 252011

I have recently had my attention drawn to this item from the Wall St Journal , from May 2009.  I am not a Parker supporter and this seems a further compelling reason why the credibility he appears to enjoy worldwide should not be taken for granted: Wine Advocate Writers Spark Ethics Debate While Newsletter’s Founder Champions Independence, Two Reviewers Accepted Trips By DAVID KESMODEL For decades, wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. has championed a […]