Monday, October 31, 2011

The Italian Extravaganza:All that Sparkles..

Veni,Vidi,Vici-those 3 famous words by Julius Ceasar would perhaps find a new interpretation if I were to use them. Such is the beauty of this wonderful country called Italy!

I have been in France for a while now and totally love it! The process has been one beginning with admiration and gradually converting into love. Just like France, there’s something about Italy which is equally fascinating but the way I connected with this country is faster than I would have imagined. 
From their simple yet elegant cuisine to the richness in history exuded from the architecture and the extent to which art disguises itself so wonderfully in the most basic of things, the pull factor towards Italy for me as a tourist, blogger and wine lover was over-the-top!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the last couple of weeks have been adventurous and exciting. You might differ on what I call ‘adventurous’ if you aren’t a wine lover or a foodie like me but for those who consider wine hedonism a virtue and never fret at the thought of an indulgent meal every alternate hour, you would relate to what I am saying. 
To make sense of my jabbering, read on. This is first in the series of what I call the ‘Italian Extravaganza’; a title I feel almost sufficiently epitomizes my experience in what the Greeks called the ‘Oenotaria’ or ‘the land of vine’.

The scene is set in Italy but I travel to France,Spain,England and USA all in the same morning? Don’t be fazed-just fill in those question marks in your head with a sit down tasting of 10 wines from the aforementioned places and you have the answer. The pleasure is doubled when those wines are sparkling. I was fortunate to have begun my sojourn on this auspicious note during the EWBC '11.

Many wine lovers reading this would maintain that there is no better way to get started in the morning than with a flute full of sparkling wine! It gets even better on a fine weather day with millions of bubbles gently spluttering in your glass that have travelled from such diverse corners of the globe! So in my attempt to avoid getting carried away any further, here is the lineup of wines that were tasted during the event (in the same order that they were served) along with some explanations & brief tasting notes:

The flight of first 5 wines
Ridgeview Cavendish 2009 from Sussex, England
While the English decide on what to call their sparkling wine, Ridgeview is not a name unheard of. They have been producing wines for a while and have earned accolades for their quality. As for this particular wine, the nose for me was reminiscent of red apples with fresh citrus notes on the palate and a pleasant acidity. What was also peculiar was the slight saltiness on the finish-a characteristic also prevalent in the following wine.

Denbies Cubitt Reserve 2006 from Surrey, England
Notes of flint and white flowers on the nose, medium-medium (+) acidity on the palate and the tartness of a ripe green apple accompanied by lemon like citrus notes. Again, that stone-salt character was evident which I guess is typical to English sparkling wines owing to the ‘terroir’.

Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Blancs from New York, USA
This was the first time I tried a New York sparkling wine and I have to admit, I fell for it instantly!
With aromas of gooseberry, yoghurt and toast, this promised to be a quality wine and it was indeed terrific. A well balanced wine on the palate with a medium-long finish, this one is highly recommended.

Lenz Winery 2005 Cuvee from New York, USA
Just like its predecessor, this one was impressive too. On the nose, I could pick up floral, honey-like notes while on the palate the wine had medium(+) acidity though well balanced with a medium to long finish. Citrusy notes well prevalent. Again, a wine I would recommend if you can get your hands on a bottle.

Majolini Franciacorta Brut Electo, Millesimato (Vintage) 2005 Brut, Italy

(Majolini pronounced mayo-lee-ni; Electo means ‘first’)

Coming to Italy, this was the local flag bearer from Northern Franciacorta accompanied by another one from Il Mosnel served later in the flight. Mind you, I didn’t mention Prosecco which seems to take away all the limelight when we talk about Italian sparkling wines. Just to bore you a bit further (as some would already know), Franciacorta is the name granted exclusively for the DOCG sparkling wines coming from the place by the same name, located in the province of Brescia in Lombardy. Though still wines are also produced in the area, they are named and classified differently, say for example DOC Terre de Franciacorta.
Having rested for 5 years on lees, the fact was quite evident on the nose with yeasty, mushroom-like aromas. On the palate, this wine had a good overall balance with buttery, vanilla notes and a medium acidity making for an interesting finish.

Raventos i Blanc Extra Brut Gran Reserva de la Fianca 2006, Spain

Cava is still the category I have wanted to be excited about but I guess it’ll take some time. With a developing lemon, flinty nose, the wine was light bodied with medium levels of alcohol and acidity. I still believe in the potential of Cava but don’t have much to add in this space.

Cava Recaredo Pas Dose Reserva Particular 2002, Spain
This was a more exciting wine than its counterpart. Toasted bread and flinty aromas on the nose, this was a super dry Cava with a developed, ripe fruit character and a medium(+) finish but for me was still average in terms of overall quality. Note: Personal opinion, no offence to Cava patrons!

Another star in the tasting, this one pleased me and exhibited well the potential of Franciacorta. A lovely, developed nose reminiscent of peaches and honey, the palate was equally pleasant. Again a bone dry style, the wine had a crisp acidity & was well rounded with a long finish. Would have loved to take a bottle home!

We now reach France and there’s something about the way Champenois make their wines. This one had an interesting nose of red apples and honey with crisp acidity on the palate. Well rounded, this is a delicious way to add some spice to life.

Piper-Heidsieck Brut Rare 1988,Champagne,France
And what better way to conclude than trying the big daddy of all. To keep my mind away from any biases, I approached this wine with utmost neutrality making sure that the golden digits ‘1988’ don’t influence my opinion. But one sniff and developed aromas of peaches, honey and vanilla with slight undertones of almost smoke and ash (by all means pleasant) came gushing in. The magic continued on the palate with similar fruit aromas as on the nose and this fuller bodied wine impressing beyond words. I did crave for more but rare things I suppose should be enjoyed in rarer quantities!

With the day beginning on a high and some wonderful wines discovered, the foundation was laid down right for what would be one memorable trip!
There were great meals that followed and even more wonderful wines tried and I can’t help but say this about Italy- “I went,I saw,I was mesmerised

More to follow soon...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Here,there and everywhere!

If you have visited my blog in the recent past in a hope to read something new,please don't be disappointed.
As much as I wanted to post regularly in this space,some interesting developments ensured that I would be out on the field and away from my computer.
Whether it was the article that I was working on,followed by a visit to a prestigious domaine in Burgundy and eventually my travel to a neighboring wine country-all of these have kept me busy yet made this month a very exciting one.

Goes without saying,I'll be sharing about all of this here very soon..So do visit again


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Indian Wines Go International

Source: Company
Indian wine in a leading wine and food retailer in the UK? Believe it or not, and for some of my friends in the wine industry who might not like the sound of it; Yes that's true. Earlier this month, two Indian wines viz. Zampa Syrah 2008 and the Viognier 2010 by Ritu (Four Seasons in India) seem to have made the breakthrough.

While it is the first time (or at least as claimed in the media) for an Indian wine to have found place in a UK supermarket, never before has it created this much buzz.The launch of these wines in my view exhibits a raise in the overall quality of Indian wines and also their potential to compete and be accepted internationally. And thankfully this time, the wines would not be merely confined to restaurants alone as an obvious pairing to the country's cuisine. Rather, these will be available to a wider, retail audience. The foundation work to the launch I suspect began in May this year during the London International Wine Fair wherein there was a reasonably decent amount of interest around Indian wines. As hinted in one of my conversations with a leading UK based importer during the event, the launch was always in the making.

The UK consumer is one of the most spoilt for choice in the world of wines and the launch of these 2 Indian wines adds further diversity to the abundant offering at their disposal. What would be interesting to see is the time for which these novel offerings remain in demand. Given the popularity of the Indian cuisine in the UK, especially the beloved 'curry', it'll be no surprise if Waitrose gets them re-ordered often. Apparently their first lot of the wines which was up at a promotional price is selling fast with some stores running out of stock!
Let's hope that the trend continues and Indian wines find further recognition in other parts of the world too.   

Monday, May 9, 2011

‘The Keyboard is mightier than the Sword’-The case of Olivier B

Talk about changing means of communication in business and social media features high on every list. Critics and traditionalists might underrate the power of this platform but when you hear about winemakers like Olivier B., the case for avenues such as blogs just gets stronger.

The wines with Oivier's signature hat
The story of Olivier B, a winemaker in the Rhone valley is an inspiring one. After almost decade of making wines, the dispirited Olivier decided to discontinue. In his words “it is too difficult to do all this alone”. There are other related reasons to the problem too that he talks about on his blog (it is in French). One public announcement from the petit vigneron sparked a series of write-ups and blogs that talked on how a quality winemaker is losing out due to his helplessness. Followed by a series of more communications about Olivier’s plight, the entire online (even television and radio) French community got together to appeal for Olivier’s case. Tastings were conducted and more discussions within bloggers continued. The result was an increase in his wine sales while at the same time bringing him to limelight which otherwise would have been just an ordinary case in point. From Le Monde to as far as US where Tyler Colman recently mentioned about this, the equation has changed dramatically in favour of Olivier over the past few months. Talking to the man himself when I met him shows how thankful he is to the entire web fraternity. Notes such as these express his gratitude which he happily carries to every city he visits with his wine repertoire.

I met him on the day of Easter which I think aptly symbolises the resurrection of a vigneron and who like many others started as an enthusiastic lover of wines but fell apart as an unsung hero due to the wonderful yet testing wine industry. While Olivier is still not sure if he’ll carry on making wines but the incident has certainly brought to notice the power of social media which I am sure would keep alive the hopes of many vintners in crossing the troubled waters with success!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sports and Wine

India wins the Cricket World Cup and Rooney scores a treble against West Ham in EPL. I am no sport fanatic but I do like my football (soccer for some) and keep track of the score when India is playing cricket.P.S: keeping track is different from sitting through 100 overs assuming that each side fully consumes them. The latter demands almost a full day of viewership which means no time for other chores. The World Cup final last weekend was an exception to this rule. Yes, I am in France (those familiar would know about the pun intended here).

Whenever I watch these matches, what strikes me is the sponsorship boards around the pitch or behind the boundary line in case of cricket. With one of world’s biggest beer brands prominently showing at all UEFA Champion’s League matches with its distinguishable green colour, this would change depending on the league/division you’re watching. Talking of cricket where Indian stadiums flaunt famous whisky names from the top 2 companies ready to kill each other in the competition, one can expect to see more beer in Australian and South Africa grounds. The same is endorsed by fans that can be seen holding the plastic glasses filled with brewed barley water.
Overwhelmed by these observations, I scratch my head and begin to think if wine brands are as easy to spot in a similar setup as the above two categories of alcoholic beverages? While it might be a preferred drink by the Red Devils’ coach with one of Latin America's leading wine company being the team’s sponsor, it will certainly take a while for the game authorities to see sponsorship bids from wine companies interested in these sports. Is it about the big money that these games command?Considering the case with all major sporting events today, maybe yes. Or could it be a problem of being wrongly perceived? What if wine companies don’t want to be associated with games that do not convey the right message? Picture this: A young man without his shirt is screaming his lungs out to support the home team. The camera moves down and finds him holding a tall glass but alas, it has wine instead of beer. The imagery is probably one that would upset a marketer of a terroir driven wine company/brand but who knows, this might change anytime soon!
We’ll see what happens in the coming years but that won’t keep me away from celebrating our World Cup victory for the next few weeks! And FYI, they did open not one, but two different bubblies to mark the moment! Great going team India.  Just tell me those brand names on the bottles! J 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Les Nuits au Grand Jour in Nuits-Saint-Georges

Burgundy as we know it is one of the most complicated regions to understand for a wine enthusiast. Even more difficult is remembering all the sub-regions/districts and communes or villages. Add to that 100 different appellations which could be regional, village/communal, premier cru and grand cru. From the perspective of understanding the above complexities, the recent effort from ‘Le Syndicat viticole de Nuits Saint Georges et Premaux-Prissey’ was certainly a step in the right direction.
The exhibition hall for the event
With about 40 vignerons exhibiting their wines through open tastings, this was a good opportunity to try the classic Burgundian Pinot Noir wines but with some cool experimentations done by a few here and there. Not as big as the other expos and events I have attended in the recent past in France, this one certainly didn’t disappoint on the quality front. With not many whites to choose from, a few were really impressive. A 2009 Bourgogne Aligoté from Domaine Gachot-Monot for its price was certainly a value deal. As otherwise perceived, this wine was not super acidic or boring, it rather had some character and balance that could make for a good aperitif for a Sunday brunch or to begin a long drinking day. Another brilliant white was from Maison Sylvain Loichet who with their 2007 Corton Charlemagne blew me away thanks to its opulence and luscious flavour profile with a forever lasting finish.
Amaury Devillard of Domaine des Perdrix
Wines from Amaur's domaine who is pictured left

A red wine dominated event, the wines reflected the peculiarity of the vintages on display. With 2008s characterised by soft tannins and a very fresh acidity which would help age them long, they had almost developed red fruit character with slight oak. The 2009s on the other hand with their youthful cassis and strawberry nose had a bit more to the palate with a good balance of fruit and acidity but were slightly tannic too. Nonetheless, they are certainly developing promisingly and in my opinion will be fully drinkable in a year or two. But it was the small vineyard site of “Les Damodes” that was really the star of the event for me. With developed red fruits characteristics, the nose almost transcended into the black fruits zone. On the palate it was fuller bodied with a great roundness and a good structure and the overall quality touching the high end of the spectrum. Noteworthy makers harvesting from this site were Domaine Chantal Lescure, Domaine Jean-Pierre Bony and Domaine Lechenaut. What also made me drool were these superb wines from Domaine des Perdrix, viz.2008 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Aux Perdrix”, a Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les 8 ouvrées” from the same vintage and the 2007 Echézeaux Grand Cru.
The ideal way to conclude the day-long tasting activity was to have a sparkling and that’s exactly what I did! With Maison Louis Bouillot helping with their full range of Cremants, it was the Blanc de Blanc and the rounder, fruitier Perle Rare that set the appetite for a heavy dinner! 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Day at Maison Jean-Claude Boisset

It was on a sunny weekday that I went to Les Ursulines in Nuits-Saint-Georges that hosts what is now the cellar of Maison Jean-Claude Boisset.
The maison, started by the courageous Jean Claude Boisset at an age when people hardly know what do in life, is now a big group with a number of brands and domaines acquired over the 50 years of their existence. They also have presence in the United States where Mr Jean-Charles Boisset is overlooking the group’s operations. A few minutes ride from the station, the maison is located in what used to be a convent prior to the French Revolution. While the history has been carefully preserved, the touch of modern architecture with some beautiful landscaping makes the premises a picturesque venue.

A warm welcome with greetings in French immediately put me at ease. As I am joined by Gregory, the maison’s chief winemaker for almost a decade now, we get talking about the subject that had us standing in a common place. He first shows me around the winemaking facility which for this time of the year was expectedly quiet and lacking the activity as otherwise witnessed during the harvest time. As I kept shooting questions at Gregory, he was kind enough to take his time to explain, making sure that none of the queries remained unanswered. What really appealed to me was the philosophy of the group that they called ‘viniculture’ that well reflected in Gregory’s talking. With strong emphasis  on terroir, the philosophy lays as much importance (sometimes even more) on monitoring what happens to those vines in the vineyards to the point when they are finally made into wines. Another noteworthy practice that really impressed me was the minimum levels of interference with nature as the wine begins to evolve into the magic potion. As we walked down into the cellar grabbing our tasting glasses, Gregory explained how he doesn’t believe in adding any yeast strains or culture to their wines and even practises such as lees stirring were strictly forbidden.The idea is to let nature take its time and bring about wonderful changes to the wine. Here, one might get the impression that winemaking is a child’s play and the team at Boisset is just lazy to do enough to make a good wine. Easier said than done, it really is an art how they get the best out of wine which can only come with years of expertise.
At no point does our conversation stop and we talk on a range of topics from handpicked coopers supplying barrels of oak from specified regions to how clever a grape Pinot Noir is, introduction of 450 litres barrels along with the conventional 228 ones and how the current facility was a convent occupied by the Nuns in the pre-revolution era .Though I have already mentioned earlier, one thing that came out again from these conversations was how the maison had not forgotten its Burgundian roots where terroir is possibly the biggest determinant in defining a wine. While the topic still remains debatable, the illustrious examples provide by ‘chef’ were well convincing, only to be verified by the wines we tasted. The wines tried were from the barrels of 2009 vintage, almost ready to be bottled.
The whites:
Côte de Nuits Villages,Single Vineyard
Beaune Premier Cru
The reds:
Savigny-lès-Beaune Village
Aloxe-Corton Premier Cru Les Valozières  
Gevrey-Chambertin Jeunes Rois (‘jeune rois’ means the young King, made from 100 year old vines)
Volnay Premier Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle

While Volnay Premier Cru Carelle sous la Chapelle is really what I would have preferred to buy (my personal opinion and in no way undermining the other beautiful wines I tried), it’ll be difficult getting my hands on a bottle as there are only 2 cuvées of it that have been produced. Its long finish and excellent balance (with an ageing potential upto 10-15 years thanks to the near perfect acidity), still lingers in my mouth. The visit was short, but the conversations never ending. Instead of ‘Au revoir’ I say ‘A bientôt’ only to come back very soon. 
While the sun still smiles upon me, I ride back home.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pinot Noir for a Better World

Does being spiritual help make a better world and produce even better wines? What an abrupt start to argue a concept that can make some sense very soon. I am talking about Genomics here.

It is one of the video clips by Barry Schuler that got me thinking. In the video, Barry talks about his belief in Spiritualism (not to be mistaken with religion) and mentions how ‘The’ great architect has created ‘genome’. And what is a genome-“all the DNA that is there in an organism. It is the code of life”.  Going further, Barry explains how just like the binary system of using only 2 digits is the basis to all digital technology, a genome consists of 4 representative letters that form a series of base pairs. These base pairs are nothing but simply a combination of the above 4 letters on which the complex programming of our DNA and eventually every function in our body or any other organism is based. It is this programming that determines who we are, the way we look and also gives us our individual characteristics.
Source: Google Images
Too much babble? Well let’s consider this- “the genome in our beloved Pinot Noir consists of 30,000 genes and 500,000 base pairs”. And why is it of any interest to the wine fraternity? Now let’s assume that we have understood this entire genome. From understanding problems like what happens to a rootstock when Phylloxera starts messing with it to learning about each varietal so as to pinpoint the reason for their unique characteristics, we can avoid ‘fixing square pegs in round holes’. This means that without employing any damaging practices we can still mould the personality of a certain wine into what we want as we would exactly know which gene arrangement is responsible for what! Accordingly, wine styles can be modified to cater to target markets with specific needs. But as these wines are meant to make the world better by avoiding tampering with the nature, will it make sense for the capitalists to jump in and make millions out of the R&D that they’ll put in the coming years? Well, they surely can but hopefully with a sense of passing the benefits to the end consumer and also ensuring sustainability! Talking about sustainability, it is another burning topic in the wine arena these days. Hope to write on that soon.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Percée du Vin Jaune- ‘Un jeune homme’ in Jura

Aboard a special 08h53 train in the morning to Arbois with 99.87% of the populace around me comprising French or at least French speakers, I was headed to the place where Louis Pasteur once lived. Yes, the same Louis Pasteur to whom every microbiologist and people in the processed food and beverage industry owe at least a thank you. Or let’s put it this way, if it was not for preventing the wine from souring, the term ‘pasteurisation’ wouldn’t have been coined. But why would I spend a Sunday morning on a train when I could be happily sleeping in my bed just like I always do?
It was the commune of Arbois in the Franche-Comté region that hosted the Percée du Vin Jaune festival this year. An annual event, the festival is a good opportunity for tasting the otherwise not so widely available Savignin grape based wine. So how could I have missed it!
The picturesque town of Arbois and the Cuisance River passing through it
Photo Courtesy: Mr. Saleh
Avoiding a stampede and collecting our tasting glasses we started our sojourn with fresh Comté purchased immediately upon entering. So why make all the efforts to try a jaune wine?Anything other than ordinary? Well, Yes. Bottled 6 years and 3 months post the harvest (which is usually carried out late), it is a wine that develops its ‘jaune’ (French for yellow) characteristic due to long ageing in barrels and exposure to slight oxidation gives it the peculiar or unique nose and taste. Perhaps unique for those who are patrons. With slight resemblance both in appearance and nose to a Sherry, the wine’s appreciation, as just mentioned earlier, could somewhat be an acquired taste. The Comté cheese happily lends its qualities to make for a great food match though only the cheese wouldn't be enough as a meal! 
The barrel being taken for the ceremonial tapping

With upto 10 sample tastings for Vin jaune and Macvin  to Cremant du Jura and wines from the local grapes like Trousseau and Poulsard to Vin de paille, I was a happy wine enthusiast by the day’s end with a few producers winning my vote of confidence-Domaine de Savagny for their good value Cremant, Badoz Benoit for their Vin de paille and Caveau des Byards for the red wine Rubis, a blend of the 3 local red grapes. And as with all the major wine events these days, the piece of news that made this fete unforgettable was the 57000 Euros that a group of wine lovers spent for a 1774 bottle! With the offload of such a hefty amount, one might wonder if it was the hedonism or speculation (even though one of the group members says it is for drinking) governing the decision. Whatever it was, the tasting glass around my neck with hues of red in the inner layer suggested that I had a good time and I shall remember this day for a long time to come. If not, my souvenirs which are nicely placed on the shelf will keep reminding me to go back next year!

Friday, February 4, 2011

I am OK. You are OK.

The dinner table is nicely set, lights are appropriately dim and the music in the background just couldn’t be any better. While all the guests sit down to celebrate his wedding anniversary, the host calls for vintage Champagne. A toast is raised and the evening promises to be full of culinary and drinking delight. As the conversations across the table get noisier and wine begins to flow like water, a handsome man in his late 20’s remarks how the wine in his glass is delightfully sweet with hint of leather and red berry notes. With this mention, the restaurant goes silent like a graveyard and looks from the fellow guests seem sharper than a surgeon’s knife. The young man talks loudly to himself thinking what he is guilty of? A sudden flash and he is back into the real world; a learned gentleman in his late 40s intervening and assertively correcting the guy- this is not sweet, it is the fruits that you perceive which make you talk like that! A moment of embarrassment for the young man but that fills up the ‘know it all’ monsieur’s chest with pride.

So who’s the culprit here? I guess nobody. It is simply the lack of empathy for the innocent chap who couldn’t articulate his passion in the manner as accepted within the wine brethren. In this world of wine connoisseurs, snobbery is often synonymous with knowledge which is an abnormal behaviour from a truly knowledgeable being. And with such experiences, the poor guy will only repeat in his near future what was inflicted upon him. It is here that we can benefit from what Eric Berne called the ‘Transactional Analysis’.In the incident above, it is simply an interaction of the ‘critical parent’ ego state of the experienced wine drinker with the ‘submissive child’ state of the young man. Appearing difficult in the first reading, a little in-depth analysis of the approach points out how at different times owing to one’s personality, a person’s variations in his emotions, actions and feelings affects/is affected by the way he deals with the world around him. The approach is easier understood than followed in real-life situations. If cautiously adopted, conflict, which in this case concerns wine drinking would be easier to resolve. In a field where knowledge levels vary tremendously and so do one’s preferences and choices, the concept becomes all the more relevant.

So while appreciating wine, is there a right way or wrong? The answer to a larger extent is No (again, my personal opinion).  Many of us are still in the ‘education’ stage or evolving into experienced tasters by trying those lovely bottles that exist out there. In many places including my own country, some people are still unsure if wine is an alcoholic beverage! “I could have drunk wine but it doesn’t give me the desired ‘kick’!” remarked an acquaintance. Even worse, as I vividly remember at one of the wine fairs back home, a cameraman greedily gulped down about 3 glasses of wines without breathing for a few seconds! To make matters more complicated (and instead of helping), we have some self-proclaimed ‘wine experts’ preaching what is good and bad in a wine. With the exception of a few professionals and educators already operating in this crazy world, people are making things unnecessarily complicated. If wine is a subject matter of individual perception, then why don’t we provide for some room for the poor consumer’s personal choice? Why can’t he/she decide what is good or bad? Basic sensory skills exist in all. And with more exposure (in this case tastings) and intervention through specialised inputs at certain steps from professionals, we can have a much more developed palate.  Coming back to India, if the government decides to be a little empathic to the cause by waiving off some of those crazy taxes and duties, there’s nothing stopping us Indians from becoming wine or even fine wine connoisseurs. Don’t we already see how those big vintners are queuing up at our ports waiting to share their prized possessions that are lying restlessly in those custom containers than cluttering up our retail shelves! It is harvest time (at least in the Southern hemisphere), so let us get out and pick our favourite grapes. Let’s resolve to shed the ‘know it all’ sheath that some of us have protected ourselves with and experience some lovely change!