There is a particular magic in visiting wineries and meeting the people who run them in their own setting. The places are remarkably diverse – occasionally grand or opulent, just as often, humble or domestic. Whether grand or simple, nothing can beat seeing the place, meeting the people in situ, walking around the vineyards, understanding the wine that is produced in the unique set of circumstances for which we use the word terroir. This set of pages is devoted to some of these special places – and some very special tastings.
Between Florence and Prato, Tuscany, this ancient estate has 80 hectares of beautiful Tuscan countryside, a fine villa with underground tunnels and a cellar full of a century’s wine. The Contini Bonacossi family now produce a range of wonderful wines, both traditional and contemporary, as well as olive oil of course. The interest here is to see an estate which has historic traditions taking on new challenges, whether with Tuscan or other grape varieties: read more
By contrast, just below the beautiful hill town of Massa Marittima, south of Pisa, Tuscany, this property is a very small family winery with just 3.5 hectares. But small can be – and indeed in this case is - both beautiful and highly distinctive. Here every decision comes out of a profound commitment to organic farming and wine making, indeed to a lifestyle in balance with the earth. Massa Vecchia produces a great range of highly individual natural wines which change from year to year to reflect the season: read more
This 15th century estate is in the Pouilly Fumé appellation on the Loire, but closer to Burgundy than to the central Loire. From the château’s grounds you can see Sancerre. Henri d’Estutt d’Assay and Nathalie de Sey produce excellent, quite rounded Pouilly Fumé and a super-premium Haut Densité which takes dense planting to its limits. And it’s all done with great commitment, charm and warm hospitality: read more
It has to be admitted that Hurstbourne Priors, Hampshire, England is not (yet) noted for outstanding wines, even if Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are being planted in this area with its chalky soils. However, that doesn’t stop us tasting some of the world’s finest wines in this north Hampshire village – with really good food and in congenial, knowledgeable and appreciative company: read more
The Primitivo grape has made it home on the Salento peninsula, close to the sea and on semi-barren land in which only olives, vines and Meditteranian scrub thrive. Racemi has perfectly understood the difference that the varying soil types make to Primitivo and produce fine contrasting wines from Puglia’s best known grape variety: read more
Country retreat with horses becomes one of the most famous wine estates in Italy, following acclaim for the wine and a long-running argument with the Chianti Classico consortium … but now, 40 years later, how are Le Pergole Torte and the other wines made at this 15 hectare estate outside Radda? read more
Sparkling wine is both one of the most enjoyable, even, fun parts of the world of wine – and one of the most technically demanding. You need a good guide. What is the difference between a Crémant and a Champagne, a Prosecco and a Cava? Why do some bottles under £5 and some £100 or more? Andover Wine Friends’ December 2011 tasting set out to answer some of these questions with the perfect guide, Martin Hudson MW. Martin confessed to not drinking as much Champagne as he should (before reeling off the important vintages in the last two decades). But judging by this tasting, we were in expert hands. Read more