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Michael Robinson

Grape Expectations
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  • The wines that are always in demand
    Apr 3, 2020 8:00 am

    The wines that are always in demand

    A few weeks ago I wrote about very small production wines and so today I thought that we could read about the other end of the spectrum. I often refer to these major worldwide brands as “the wines that helped pay for our sons to get educated”.

  • A new and emerging wine market
    Mar 20, 2020 8:00 am

    A new and emerging wine market

    It is difficult to get an up-to-date picture of wine imports to China, as their overall consumption grew by about 80 per cent between 2013 and 2018 and their own acres of vineyards are now firmly in second place worldwide. It is challenging to...

  • Going Italian will lead you to some tasty wines
    Mar 13, 2020 8:00 am

    Going Italian will lead you to some tasty wines

    As I think back to that fateful day of March 15, 44BC and the demise of Julius Caesar, I can’t help but be concerned for the wellbeing of friends now in northern Italy. Today, I will tell you more of a people and place story and leave wines till...

  • Small is beautiful: tiny production picks
    Mar 6, 2020 8:00 am

    Small is beautiful: tiny production picks

    The esteemed Château Lafite Rothschild makes 15,000 to 20,000 cases a year. Château Latour produces 18,000 cases, Château Haut- Brion 10,000 to 12,000, Château Margaux around 12,000 and Mouton Rothschild 20,000.

    These are the great First...

  • Grab a taste of the high life
    Feb 21, 2020 8:00 am

    Grab a taste of the high life

    I recently wrote about our new investment in South African wine and now I would like to share facts on a few more from Cederberg, DeMorgenzon, the Raat Family and Simonsig.

    At Cederberg Private Cellar, winemaker David Nieuwoudt says that he...

  • It’s 100% cabernet sauvignon
    Feb 7, 2020 8:00 am

    It’s 100% cabernet sauvignon

    Let me share some information on the favourite grape in our home.

    We are not alone as it is the most planted worldwide even though, historically, it is rather the new kid on the block.

    It all happened in the seventeenth century when,...

  • Wines from South Africa
    Jan 31, 2020 8:00 am

    Wines from South Africa

    It all started back in 1652 when the Dutch East India Company planted vines in South Africa. This was done so that grapes and wine could be given to sailors during their voyage along the Spice Route. The vitamin C in fresh fruit warded off...

  • Petite sirah on a winter evening
    Jan 17, 2020 8:00 am

    Petite sirah on a winter evening

    Petite sirah is one of the world’s least planted grapes, and there is probably more in California than anywhere else.

    First created in France about one hundred and fifty years ago from a cross between syrah and the almost extinct...

  • Uncork memories with a glass or two from an old bottle
    Jan 10, 2020 8:00 am

    Uncork memories with a glass or two from an old bottle

    I really enjoy opening an old bottle of wine and thinking of all that has taken place since the grapes were ripening on the vine.

    For instance, I had strategically placed a double magnum of 1990 Cignale on our kitchen island before Neil...

  • Bubbles from around the world
    Dec 27, 2019 8:00 am

    Bubbles from around the world

    Of the roughly 3,255,555,555 cases of wine produced each year in our world, 10 per cent is sparkling. Champagne and prosecco slug it out for top spot and, although the latter produced about 600 million bottles last year, it would seem that...

  • A few suggestions for holiday wines
    Dec 13, 2019 8:00 am

    A few suggestions for holiday wines

    I am thinking party time as well as roast turkey and so would like to make a few suggestions that you may not have considered but first, let’s go for the obvious — champagne.

    It can be wonderful as an aperitif.

    Because of its acidity...

  • Everyone should get to taste a great port
    Nov 29, 2019 8:00 am

    Everyone should get to taste a great port

    A few rules. I start with a quote from the first wine book I ever owned, The Signet Encyclopedia of Wine: “Every mortal should taste at least one great port on this earth before they come to die — no matter what it...

  • A compelling top 100 season
    Nov 22, 2019 8:00 am

    A compelling top 100 season

    Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazine are now releasing their annual lists of wines that they feel deserve special attention. As I write on November 12, Spectator has just named their...

  • Bad Boy equals delightful wines
    Nov 15, 2019 8:00 am

    Bad Boy equals delightful wines

    As a boy, he moved from Algeria to France with his family and attended ?a private school that he dropped out of at age 15.

    He still maintains that he does not know a word of English, as he is “not smart enough for that”.

    Some years...

  • Thinking of Healdsburg, California
    Nov 8, 2019 8:00 am

    Thinking of Healdsburg, California

    I am thinking so much of a charming town plaza with towering trees, restaurants, art galleries, antique stores, wine-tasting establishments and even a boutique for cats and dogs.

    The town is Healdsburg in Sonoma wine country and, as I...

  • Music and wine: ideal partners
    Oct 25, 2019 8:00 am

    Music and wine: ideal partners

    One of my office compatriots has suggested that I write about the relationship between music and wine as this is a particularly significant week in my life for sound in general.

    I am testing a tiny microelectronic device that samples the...

  • Bermuda lobster and wine
    Oct 18, 2019 8:00 am

    Bermuda lobster and wine

    This Friday past, I made a point of doing something that I try to do at least twice a season; I visited the lobster seller who sets up base on Fridays between the roundabouts in Paget, and I purchased two.

    In order to protect my reputation,...

  • The Reds of Washington State
    Oct 11, 2019 8:00 am

    The Reds of Washington State

    I remember a time long ago when it was suggested to a top Napa vintner that his wines were “French-like”.

    I am sure that it was meant as a compliment, but his reply was: “I really don’t give a damn, as I am just making the best wine that I...

  • Time to try a Brunello
    Oct 7, 2019 9:47 am

    Time to try a Brunello

    Last weekend we had friends over for dinner and I opened a bottle of brunello.

    Its brilliance was a reminder of why I have spent so much of my life trying to understand the magic of wine.

    In 1865 the appellation of Brunello di...

  • The role of the wind in winemaking
    Sep 27, 2019 8:00 am

    The role of the wind in winemaking

    For some reason I seem to have wind on my mind today, so let me share with you the relationship between it and our favourite tipple.

    If you are a grape grower in Provence or the Rhone Valley of France you will be thankful for the mistral...

  • More Monday to Thursday night wines
    Sep 20, 2019 8:00 am

    More Monday to Thursday night wines

    Last week, I wrote of some of the factors that establish the price of a wine, today, I will add another most important one — an oak barrel.

    It is easy to pay $1,800 or more for a French one, that holds the equivalent of 300 bottles of...

  • A selection of Monday to Thursday night wines
    Sep 13, 2019 8:00 am

    A selection of Monday to Thursday night wines

    As much as we like to discuss that lovely bottle of brunello that we had a couple of weeks ago, the cold hard facts are that most of the time most of us are happy to find an enjoyable wine for under $20.

    So, how are prices determined? In...

  • For Bordeaux wines, Jonathan’s your man
    Sep 6, 2019 8:00 am

    For Bordeaux wines, Jonathan’s your man

    I have just printed off a detailed five-page vintage chart for our sales team and our stores.

    It informs us that years with a 98-100 rating are classic, 94-97 are superb, 90-93 are excellent, 87-89 are very good, 83-86 are good and 80-82...

  • The king of grapes for Labour Day
    Aug 30, 2019 8:00 am

    The king of grapes for Labour Day

    Cabernet sauvignon reigns supreme worldwide with 840,000 acres planted, which puts it well above second place merlot at 657,000.

    It was not until 1996 that DNA evidence at the University of California at Davis proved conclusively that...

  • Raise a glass with your left hand to toast mollydookers
    Aug 16, 2019 8:00 am

    Raise a glass with your left hand to toast mollydookers

    It was only when a communication from Australia came in that I realised that I would unfortunately miss a particularly important day to write about this month and to contemplate what our Queen, Prince Charles, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and even...

  • Highly rated from the Rhône Valley
    Aug 9, 2019 8:00 am

    Highly rated from the Rhône Valley

    A few weeks ago, in an article about hail damage, I mentioned that we would shortly feature a few very fine Rhône wines in our stores and that were part of the package when we became involved with Discovery Wines.

    I will give you three...

  • Bottling a climate
    Jul 26, 2019 8:00 am

    Bottling a climate

    I should warn you, dear reader, that the article today will be more about a cause than details on the wines themselves.

    Wine is about 85 per cent water and we are told that our brain is composed of 73 per cent water; our lungs ring in at...

  • The modern answer to hail damage
    Jul 19, 2019 8:00 am

    The modern answer to hail damage

    I first saw anti-hail nets while visiting Mendoza, Argentina. They were on frames that ran along the vine rows and could swing open, rather like an Andean condor spreading its 5ft wings (10ft span).

    When not in use, they folded up...

  • Breaking through the glass ceiling in oenology
    Jul 12, 2019 8:00 am

    Breaking through the glass ceiling in oenology

    As I have spent much of the past couple of weeks watching the Fifa Women’s World Cup, my wife suggested that I write about wines made by females.

    Few women would argue with the statement that their sense of hearing is far more acute than...

  • Italian rebels: the Super Tuscans
    Jul 5, 2019 8:00 am

    Italian rebels: the Super Tuscans

    Wikipedia tells us that “an extraordinary number of wines claim to be the first Super Tuscan” and I tend to agree, based on the claims of a few folks that I know.

    Whoever it was, the fact is that back in the 1970s, wines started to emerge...

  • The underappreciated half bottle
    Jun 28, 2019 8:00 am

    The underappreciated half bottle

    This morning found me wandering around the office muttering to myself: “What am I going to write about this week?”

    The suggestion was offered that half bottles might be a good idea and, so, here we go.

    Magnums, bottles and...

  • Three St Emilion mavericks
    Jun 21, 2019 8:00 am

    Three St Emilion mavericks

    I call this a story about mavericks. I could have heeded my thesaurus and used nonconformists, eccentrics, individualists or even rebels, as I feel it fair to label the mentioned winemakers any of these. They are all forward-thinking, highly...

  • Wines to complement grill fare
    Jun 14, 2019 8:00 am

    Wines to complement grill fare

    With the long weekend ahead of us I would suspect that pleasant, crowd-pleasing wines with enough body and flavour to stand up to outdoor grilling would be what many are looking for.

    You may have heard of an innovative trend where certain...

  • Penfolds: a one in a million brand
    Jun 7, 2019 8:00 am

    Penfolds: a one in a million brand

    It is estimated that there are about one million wine producers and, for 2019, Penfolds has been awarded the most admired wine brand by Drinks International.

    This is no fly-by-night decision as the publication and their...

  • You say garnacha, I say grenache
    May 31, 2019 8:00 am

    You say garnacha, I say grenache

    Heraclitus of Ephesus made an insightful observation 2,500 years ago when he said: “Change is constant.”

    At the time, wine grapes had been harvested in his country for 4,000 years.

    Fast forward to the year of my birth and our species...

  • And the winner from New Zealand is ...
    May 17, 2019 8:00 am

    And the winner from New Zealand is ...

    Last week, I championed chardonnay, but freely admitted that sauvignon blanc is the top drop here. Most hail from New Zealand and even though this country only accounts for about 1 per cent of the world’s total wine production, I estimate that...

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