Dear wine lover, here are links to some of the articles that were published on this week.

View this email in your browser  News 12 Mar 2021

Dear wine lover


The article I really, really did not want to publish this week was my appreciation of the late Steven Spurrier, who died on Tuesday at the age of 79, while never looking more than 40. The more I think about him, the more extraordinary this quintessentially English wine writer and entrepreneur was. He was most famous for organising in 1976 the fateful tasting in Paris that demonstrated that California could make wines every bit as convincing as the best of France – but he was so so much more than this. The number and geographical range of emails I have been receiving has shown how deeply he was loved and respected in every corner of the wine world. I should imagine that his widow Bella’s inbox and mailbag are currently overwhelmed. One important point that I failed to state explicitly: most unusually, he never had a bad word to say about anyone. He is pictured here by Lucy Pope in his beloved Bride Valley vineyard. Note the signature handkerchief.

My profile of Steven rather distracted from the other two free articles we published on Tuesday. Perhaps the most surprising spelt out details of the most extraordinary offer to potential MW or MS students of two scholarships, each worth about £55,000 ($76,000), by Lewis Chester of Liquid Icons in memory of another much-loved wine man, Gerard Basset MW MS OBE etc. The noble aim is to promote diversity in the wine world and the plan involves a lavish fundraising dinner in October at which awards called Golden Vines will be made to various wine producers.

And on the same day we published wine producer and investment manager Graham Shore’s account of the Brexit effect on wine in the UK. The latest analyses show that UK/EU trade has been plummeting and Shore outlined some of the reasons. Here at we are all too aware of how much more difficult it is now to ship wine to the UK. And there was even a fourth article on Tuesday (yes, we’re crazy), Tam’s literally gobsmacked report on Barbadillo’s extraordinary sherry relics.

The day before that we’d published three contributions designed to celebrate International Women’s Day (which already feels like a lifetime ago). A factual survey of the proportion of female wine students worldwide also included observations on the very limited extent to which women are represented in the higher reaches of the wine trade. Complementing that was a video of a transatlantic discussion between female wine professionals about the general challenges they face and the particular ones caused by the pandemic (come in, home-schooling). More cheering was James Mayor’s profile of some of Portugal’s leading women winemakers.

On Saturday I wrote about alcoholic strengths on wine labels and how accurate they are. (It depends where you are.) Nick wondered whether, when we start going to restaurants again, chefs will offer comfort or excitement?

Wednesday’s offering was Richard’s investigation into the character of Chinese wine and my report, at the suggestion of a Purple Pager, on the wines of Alain Brumont back to 2010. This plugged one of the more obvious gaps in our coverage, which we try to keep as comprehensive as possible.

Yesterday we republished Arnica Rowan’s argument for reprising the ancient art of making piquette; meanwhile, another winemaking tradition undergoing a renaissance was surveyed in Ferran’s latest report, on the Moscatels (and other wines) of Alicante.

And today I offer a collection of tasting notes on wines from the revived vineyards and cellars of Eastern Europe while Richard suggests an unusual combination of Shiraz and Riesling as wine of the week.

So there you have it, a total of 15 articles. We do hope you find something of interest here.


Dandelion, Lion's Tooth Shiraz/Riesling 2017/18 McLaren Vale (Wines of the week)

Mar 12, 2021 08:48 am | Richard Hemming MW

From AU$22, £12.25, 169 Swedish kronor, $19.98, €16.88 Find this wine Anyone who has enjoyed egg and bacon ice cream (thank you Heston Blumenthal, circa 2007) or banana and curry pizza (thank you Leeds University, circa 1997) will know how seemingly dissonant flavours can create unexpected harmony. Enter stage right Côte Rôtie, whose Syrah…

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Promising Eastern Europeans (Tasting articles)

Mar 12, 2021 08:48 am | Jancis Robinson

Wines that deserve to be taken notice of, with apologies for grouping so many vibrant and distinctive cultures together. Seen above, one of Orbelia’s vineyards in the far south-west of Bulgaria. The quality of wine now being made behind what used to be the Iron Curtain has been soaring, as Caroline Gilby MW has been pointing out on this site…

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Piquette – a summer wine for everyone (Drinks not wine)

Mar 11, 2021 03:28 am | Guest contributor

11 March 2021 We're republishing this outline of a recovered practice in our Throwback Thursday series. 20 July 2020 Waste product or wine substitute? It's the height of fashion in North America. Arnica Rowan considers the social implications as well as the taste. In François Rozier's late-18th-century manual Cours complet d'agriculture (Comp…

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What should Chinese wine taste like? (Hemming in Asia)

Mar 10, 2021 08:48 am | Richard Hemming MW

Richard searches for a common descriptor for wine from China. Wine’s most treasured quality is to reflect its origin: ‘to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature’, as the Danish wine critic Hamlet put it. Without a sense of place, wine soon becomes a commodity, stripped of intrinsic value, as anyone who has tried to flog generic Chardonnay…

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Brumont Madiran – a marvel of consistency (Tasting articles)

Mar 10, 2021 08:48 am | Jancis Robinson

A gap filled, with Tannat. We try to make our coverage as comprehensive as possible but there has been a particularly obvious lacuna: the far south-west of France, the bit between Bordeaux and the Pyrenees. Much as I’d love to conduct a leisurely tour of the region, that’s not looking possible any time soon. (Thanks, COVID-19.) However…

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Steven Spurrier (1941–2021) (Free for all)

Mar 09, 2021 11:22 am | Jancis Robinson

The wine world lost one of its great adventurers last night. Steven Spurrier is pictured above with his wife Bella in their Dorset garden with some of the art he commissioned. All photographs by Lucy Pope. It seems extraordinary that the wine world is going to have to survive without someone who has been characterised for his 79 years by the…

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The holy relics of Barbadillo (Tasting articles)

Mar 09, 2021 08:47 am | Tamlyn Currin

Tam's taste buds tangle with an F-35 fighter-jet of a wine. It's exactly 200 years since sherry producer Barbadillo was founded. Benigno Barbadillo, who'd made his fortune in real estate, pharmaceuticals and wine importation in Mexico, returned to Spain in 1821 with cousin Manuel López Barbadillo. He bought the 18th-century Bodega El Toro, a…

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Two scholarships worth £55,000 envisaged (Free for all)

Mar 09, 2021 08:47 am | Jancis Robinson

A new initiative is the most generous and ambitious scheme yet designed to improve diversity in the world of wine. Yesterday applications opened for two scholarships, each worth up to £55,000 ($76,000 according to current exchange rates), offered to aspiring Black and minority ethnic students who wish to study for a Master of Wine or Master…

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Brexit's effect on the UK wine scene (Free for all)

Mar 09, 2021 08:47 am | Guest contributor

Graham Shore, once a UK government economist, has worked in the investment industry for the last 30 years. He now owns Domaine Vintur in Ventoux where organic wines are made by his fellow Plumpton alumnus James Wood. He provides an inside view of the changes wrought by Brexit. Now that the UK has left the European Customs Union and signed a…

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Where have women got to in wine? (Free for all)

Mar 08, 2021 08:48 am | Jancis Robinson

9 March 2021 We have now been able to update the statistics for female wine students at the two relevant Australian universities. 8 March 2021 As well as publishing a video of an hour-long discussion between COVID-stressed women in wine and an account of prominent Portuguese wine women with links to several pertinent webinars, we try to…

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Wine, women and COVID-19 (Videos)

Mar 08, 2021 08:48 am | Guest contributor

Lilla O’Connor, who works behind the scenes at, decided to organise an online discussion last Wednesday night between some prominent women in wine to discuss the issues of the day, particularly International Women’s Day. See also Where have women got to in wine? Lilla writes What do we women in wine want? Have we decided and…

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Portugal's women winemakers (Free for all)

Mar 08, 2021 08:48 am | Guest contributor

On International Women's Day writer and wine-tourism specialist James Mayor introduces five of Portugal's most accomplished wine producers. This could be read in conjunction with Where have women got to in wine? and this video of a discussion of wine, women and COVID-19. Tonight Jancis will be participating in an all-female online event…

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Alcohol on labels – how accurate? (Free for all)

Mar 06, 2021 01:02 am | Jancis Robinson

Tolerance takes on a new meaning for alcohol-conscious wine drinkers. A version of this article is published by the Financial Times. Above, the difference between alcohol-level presentation on labels in the US (left, bottom right-hand corner thereof) and the EU (right). Alcohol may be what distinguishes wine from fruit juice, but many wine…

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Restaurants – a shocking future? (Nick on restaurants)

Mar 06, 2021 01:02 am | Nick Lander

When restaurants reopen, will we seek comfort or challenge? Image by Rod Long on Unsplash. Asked to give an online talk about my 40 years in and around the restaurant business to London’s Muswell Hill Synagogue at 2.30 pm on Wednesday 17 March, I realised one topic was obvious: How have restaurants changed since I first reopened the front door…

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