Blogs behind the label


Restaurant Crissier

It’s about 20 years since I last visited the little village of Crissier, just outside Lausanne, particularly to eat at Giradet, then considered to be the best restaurant in the world. I had been there a couple of times before and was amazed – not only for the finesse of the cuisine, but also for […]

Gentlemen vs. Players

Last week a bit of a furore arose in the Twttershpere over a blog by a young man called James Isherwood on visituing Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus restaurant in London. The review didn’t make the greatest reading in the world, but it did severely criticise one dish and the service. Part of the game, one would […]

A Merlot to savour from Roberto Voerzio

Roberto Voerzio is rightly famous for his magnificent Barolos – some of the most sought after in the world of wine for the sheer concentration of flavours that he produces from his heavily pruned vines. The average yield per plant is around 500grams of fruit whilst his neighbour’s vines could be yielding at least six […]

Genoa – the fourth “M”

There seems to be something with me and restaurants in Genoa beginning with “M”. Having fallen in love with Mario, Mua and Il Marin – all well worth a visit for entirely different reasons – I have now discovered a fourth baby – Migone. Well, actually, the restaurant is called SanMatteo, but the usp here […]

Eating at your covenience – even if it’s on the next floor down

Our annual trip to the Wexford Opera Festival, as usual, produces a fine trio of operas that one goes to see for their scarcity value, if nothing else. At the same time, as we have recorded elsewhere on this website, we note the considerable increase in the quality of the restaurants over the 16 years […]

A dining experience to forget

We were very puzzled by an advert which we received by email from the Old Vic a couple of weeks ago thus. “Reserve your tickets now for this unique collaboration combining sight, sound and taste. For two weeks, during Frieze Art Fair and London Restaurant Festival, Lazarides Gallery and Kofler & Kompanie will present The […]

A historic gourmet evening in North Wales

On Friday, November 11, Bryan Webb, the chef-patron of the Michelin-starred Tyddyn Llan restaurant with rooms at Llandrillo, will be recreating six dishes at a gourmet dinner dedicated to his mentor, Sonia Blech, in whose kitchen Bryan took his very first step towards culinary excellence some 35 years ago at the Crown Inn (another restaurant […]

Wine Dinners – who’s kidding who?

I have received a plethora of invitations to wine dinners in my inbox recently (not as a freebie – I hasten to add!) – Ch. Angelus and Ch. Palmer at the Connaught at £390 and £480 a head (plus a “discretionary” service charge of 12.5%) – Thomas Keller’s pop up restaurasnt at Harrods is around […]

Michael Broadbent and The Lovely Ladies

Swung by Buxton on our way to Manchester to see the second (and last) performance of “Lovely Ladies” – a comic opera composed by Peter Cowdrey and written by Hamish Anderson with a definite wine theme. Set in a Christie’s warehouse – the synopsis is as follows:- “Two aspiring wines – Mas de Daumas Gassac […]

Putting some fizz into the La Spinetta empire

Last month La Spinetta’s Giorgio, Bruno, Carlo and Giovanna Rivetti and the rest of the family finally acquired the Contratto winery at Canelli in Piedmont for an undisclosed sum. The Contratto brand is a prestigious label that has produced legendary spumante wines such as ‘For England’, ‘Bacco d’Oro’ and ‘Miranda’. Contratto was founded in 1867 […]

Sonia’s 50th Wedding Anniversary blog

On Saturday 16th of April we celebrated our 50th wedding   anniversary with my sister and her husband who were also celebrating the same event (with a month difference!). We thought that Gay Paris in the spring would be a blessed place for such celebrations and our closest friends and relatives agreed. The restaurant chosen is […]

St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephe

Just to round off the Bordeaux tastings, my last chunk was the tasting of some of the top wines from St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estèphe, not to mention a few Médocs, Listracs and Mouilis classed growths. Of the minor appellations, Camensac stood out – a lot of money has been spent here over the […]

On to Margaux

On to Margaux, Moulis , Listrac and Médoc. I must say that of the lesser appellations, I was most impressed by Ch. Clarke. This should be a good value for money buy. In the Margaux appellation itself, apart from Ch. Margaux and to a lesser extent, Ch. Palmer, both of which are hors combat, there […]

More notes on the 2010s

Tasted Graves/Péssac-Légnon and St. Emilion/Pomerol. Certainly the right bank wines are more consistent than those of the left bank. Some of the Graves were really quite green and others were a little over extracted.  Some, however did manage to achieve remarkable balance and finesse. Top of the tree for me here were Domaine de Chevalier, […]

International cuisine in Bordeaux?

I have just arrived in Bordeaux for the annual tasting of the primeurs – a very, very, early assessment of the 2010 vintage where some 19,000 wine professionals descend upon Bordeaux for this annual shindig. What does it prove? Not a lot. But it does give an early indication of what the vintage is likely […]

The Derenoncourt 2010 Primeurs tasting

Just back from the Derenoncourt tasting where I tasted about 50% of the wines on offer. Wines were limited to the Bordeaux appellations but I made sure that I tasted at least one wine in every appellation there. 2010 is certainly going to be a very good year, especially on the right bank, where most […]

A pre-primeur taste of some 2010 Bordeaux wines

In the race to be the first to show their primeurs, Le Cercle Rive Droite, an association of right bank producers from Pomerol, St.-Emilion and satellites, showed a VERY early tasting of their 2010 wines at Le Cercle restaurant in London last night  – a bit too early for some as they had barely finished […]

Angelo Gaja’s rant – a viewpoint

Angelo Gaja has just put out a rant against the “non Italian” Italian wines found on the market these days. The full rant can be read on the Jancis Robinson website at http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a201009101.html. Loveable as they are, organisation has never been an Italian strong point and I can’t see that they are going to change […]

Hurrah for my i Pad

When you get a new toy, you sometimes wonder what is the best way to enjoy it. My wife bought me an i Pad for my birthday recently and after a few one-to-one sessions at my local Apple store, I’m finally getting the hang of it. Naturally, I wanted to make as much use of […]

(Un?) Natural Wines

I read a thought-provoking article by my old friend, Douglas Wregg, of Les Caves de Pyrène, a merchant that has done more for the promotion of good French regional wines than perhaps anyone else in the UK, but I can’t help feeling a little uneasy at his infatuation with “natural wines”. For those who are […]

Try travelling in France from East to West in a hurry

Maybe it was a sense of adventure but we decided to travel from the Vallé des Merveilles between Ventimiglia and Cuneo (although the valley is actually in France) to just near Langon in the Gironde without using a toll road! Well, not so difficult really since there are hardly any toll roads going east-west, they […]

British Airways comes up trumps again

Well, British Airways have come up trumps again by supplying the best wine in steerage class that we have ever come across again. Last year, the red quarter bottle choice on my frequent flights to Italy was a very acceptable Côtes du Rhône called Mas Joséphine – a lovely, Grenache/Cincault/Carignan/Syrah blend with nice red berry, […]

Cullen Wines needs your help!

Those of you who are Bacchanalians or who have downloaded the 7th edition of Wine Behind Tne Label will know that Cullens Wines in Western Australia are one of our Stellar Cellars of the year. Here’s a plea from them to see if you can help to stop their wines being ruined. Cullen Wines needs […]

Post VinItaly meals

Relaxing in Genoa after a frustrating train journey from Verona having participated at the VinItaly dog and pony show. Italian known preponderancy  for unpunctuality is legendary and we just made our connection for Genoa at Milan by the skin of our teeth despite having a theoretical 40 minute leeway. Still a good way to relax, […]

“Michelin Stars” for Cru Bourgeois wines?

The “bourgeois” were inhabitants of the “bourg” of Bordeaux and during the English rule they had acquired rights and privileges, notably an exemption of taxes on the wines from their vineyards. By the 15th century the bourgeois of Bordeaux were able to acquire the finest lands in the region, which were referred to as “Crus […]

2009 Bordeaux Primeurs – a first impression

There’s no doubt about it – 2009 was a great year for Bordeaux reds (can’t say that for the whites, though) and like 2005 – it’s going to be hard to find anyone who has made a real dud. However, there is one caveat. I found a number of wines, particularly in the right bank […]

Don’t be frightened to drink older wines (as long as they are well stored)

We had the opportunity, earlier this week to produce a dinner for a private group of 16 people, where I was invited to explain the wines, at which we used the opportunity to serve some of the older wines in our cellar. Now some people might be sceptical about this – especially the whites. But […]

April is going to be a busy month

Packing my bags now to prepare for my trip to Bordeaux to taste some of the much-hyped 2009 primeurs. Looking forward to tasting my daughter’s modest efforts in the entre-deux-mers along with the grand crus. (Aye – they’re a grand crew!) I’ll report back in common with lots of other wine scribes, of course, so […]

The Latest

We have just posted up our March updates for this site and would love to have your feedback whether you are Bacchanalians or not. Please do comment about the site on this blog – it will be much appreciated.  

Out of the Frying Pan?

Readers of my recent blog on the sacking of Tim Atkin by The Observer will be pleased to know that Tim has now been invited to join The Times. Tim’s first column will appear on ­Thursday 4th March, as part of  a new food and drink supplement for the paper. We wish him luck and […]

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