Archive for July, 2012


A Little Rave About Graves


There was a time in my life when I couldn’t face red wine. History doesn’t recall why. Except that it was a brief phase. I was younger. And it probably involved over-indulgence and hangovers.

We invited some friends over for dinner. It was winter and we plumped for venison casserole. Off I trotted to my local Nicholas for advice (in the days when Nicholas did that pretty well). I have no idea what red I bought. But I do remember that, after much head scratching, a white Graves was placed in my hand and I was encouraged to “give it a go”.

I did and do you know what? It may not have been a match made it heaven, but its smokey savouriness held its own against the robust dish. (more…)

Etna Wines Are Smoking Hot


Heroic viticulture. A rather romantic term for the hard graft of growing grapes on steep, terraced slopes at least 500 metres above the sea.

Perhaps, then, growing grapes around Etna is super heroic.

After all, these vines lie in the foothills of one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Etna has erupted seven times so far this year, and a thick plume of smoke spewing from the main crater was visible on my recent visit to the region. (more…)

Biondi Ambition for Etna Wines


We’re in Ciro Biondi’s truck, climbing a vertiginous rocky path in his Cisterna Fuori vineyard in the foothills of Mount Etna.

It is not for the fainthearted or the easily carsick.

Ciro says he’s taking it slowly because I’m in the truck, along with Mr. Sipswoosh.  We both feel very grateful. (more…)

Six Go Mad In Oddbins


Hands up who remembers Supermarket Sweep?

Now, hands up who still walks into a grocery shop and thinks about what they would cram into their trolley if they had only ninety seconds?

Yep, me.

So imagine my childish delight when I was offered the opportunity to open and taste any wine I wanted to try in an Oddbins store. Within a somewhat longer timeframe, fortunately. (more…)