Taste of the Vine

Wine tasting, Cheese, Real Ale & Whisky Events   •   20 years, 3460 events, 49 countries

  • Ambriel's Guardian

    Posted in A Taste of England on Sep 05, 2017

    A gnarly sentinel stands below the rows of cherished Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines at the Redfolds Vineyard, home to Ambriel Wine. In its shadow lie the greensand house, barn and outbuildings that comprise Wendy and Charles Outhwaite’s home and winery. Ever alert, as if aware of a threat to its charges, the aged watchman overlooks a slope that dips south of the vines into The Weald and across to Chanconbury Ring, the Bronze Age hill fort on the South Downs ten miles away. A taste of Nyetimber in the early 2000’s led the couple to their plot on a ridge north of Pulborough in We...

  • Albanian Shakedown

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Apr 07, 2017

    I shuffled to one side, the aim of the policeman’s holstered pistol a little too close to my foot for comfort. He pushed his mirrored sunglasses back up the bridge of his nose. I caught my reflection. Four days trekking in Montenegro’s Crmnica Mountains had me looking as far from an Albanian male, clean shaven and close shorn, as Grizzly Adams after a spell in a tumble dryer. ‘So, what brings you to Albania?’ the policeman said. ‘I’m looking for wines to import into the UK,’ I said, stretching the truth to a point that would make a politician blush; the few cases we’d be using at tastings were...

  • A Taste of Kent and Sussex – some favourites

    Posted in A Taste of England on Feb 02, 2017

    It was 1980 and rivulets of rainwater meandered down through the dots on my bedroom window. I focussed beyond at the land sloping towards the sodden Pevensey Marshes, once a seaward bay and landing point for William the Conqueror, now reclaimed and home only to grazing sheep. The door swung open behind me and I thrust the magazine I’d been reading beneath my pillow - too late. My mother placed the sandwich she’d brought on my bedside table.‘Francis, what was that?’ ‘Nothing, Mum.’ ‘Let me see,’ she insisted, beckoning me to lift the pillow. I reluctantly slid the magazine out and sheepishly pr...

  • Georgian Mildred

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Sep 24, 2016

    Powder snow crunched underfoot. I edged around the corner of the old winery; isolated in the high Caucasus, not far from the Russian border. Clammy sweat traced my spine despite the freezing temperature. I tried to suppress my breath, lest it give me away and spook my quarry. There he was. George. He hadn’t seen me, his eye-line beneath his collar. I took my opportunity, maybe the last I’d get before the Georgians bundled him into the coach and away to safety. My index finger hovered. I took the shot. Calm and clean, but it would be some moments before I could tell if I’d hit the mark. I had l...

  • England's Sparkling Future

    Posted in A Taste of England on Oct 15, 2015

    ‘Come and taste this,’ said my wine course tutor, ‘it’s pretty rare.’ I was at the 1990 English Wine Festival and the air in the marquee was warm with the aromas of the latest vintages. I came out from behind the stall I’d been assisting on and followed my tutor along a row of producers proffering samples of Muller Thurgau, Reichensteiner, Madeleine Angevine, Schonburger and Ortega, the favoured grapes of English winemakers back then. Grown for their suitability to marginal climates, rather than for their olfactory properties, these grapes were, and still are, second tier in world terms. ‘Gent...

  • Straying in Lebanon

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Aug 03, 2015

    The battered Toyota minibus skidded to a halt beside me, dust billowing in the late afternoon heat. Three Hezbollah soldiers spilled from its rear door and ran towards me. This I found somewhat unnerving, having spent my flight to Lebanon reading about the country’s turbulent political history. I had wondered how being English might affect my standing with the Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi and Marionite factions and whether I should ally myself to the Phalangist or Palestinian cause. In the end I had decided to do what came naturally and plead ignorance. Anyhow, I had nothing to worry about, accor...

  • Hungarian Rot

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Nov 17, 2014

    We had encountered little since the motorway’s end on our journey east from Budapest, the roads eerily silent save for an occasional cart emerging through the mist. As we rounded a corner a few miles from our intended destination I swerved sharply and applied the brakes: the road now no longer emerged from the mist, but in its place was a river, glasslike and wide beyond sight. As we traced an alternative route on our map (which had been drawn up some degree of artistic licence) we noticed the glow of a cigarette appear and recede through the fog above the water, shortly outlined by the shape...

  • Fracking for wine

    Posted in A Taste of England on Mar 07, 2014

    After 17 years of writing and hosting wine tastings for Taste of the Vine I have to make efforts to keep each event stimulating for myself. It would of course be possible to say the same thing to a different audience every time, but I would long ago have been carried, hog tied, to a padded cell if I approached it that way. Recently though I’ve been personalising our wine events at Taste of the Vine to a level I would have considered sheer indulgence a few years ago – when the TOTV journey was more about the trajectory of its profit curve than it is today. Now when I prepare tastings I try to m...

  • Tunisian Glamour

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Aug 14, 2008

    ‘This is magnifique,’ declared Samia, as she passed me a glass of inky purple liquid. My normal reaction to such a statement is to look for the contrary viewpoint, but I knew that I’d need to gather my nerve before challenging her. I was at Domaine Neferis, a wine estate nestled in a mountainous amphitheatre near Tunis. The estate’s villa, with its warm sandstone walls and red clay tiles, looked to have been plucked from a Tuscan landscape. The figure that had approached us down the villa steps gave the theme further impact: the large dark sunglasses and neat denim were those of an Italian st...

  • The Paternal Moroccan

    Posted in A Taste of the Future - travels to emerging wine regions on Feb 14, 2008

    “Dr Gimblett I presume?” Leaning against my Land Rover in a somewhat diminished state (brought on by a bout of dysentery) it took some moments to recognise this as humorous reference to British exploration. I suppose my mode of dress that morning hadn’t been selected with assimilation into Islamic culture in mind - khaki shorts and Panama hats not something I’d encountered a great deal of in Morocco. Jean Pierre, my host for the morning’s winery visit, looked expectantly as I sought for a response. My response, which whilst not witty, or indeed technically true, indicated he had the right man…...