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Train tickets to and from London have been my constant companions of late, visits to Capital City being frequent as the spring tasting season gets underway.

And crikey, I've been tasting a great many fabulous wines, many of which will be appearing on Bowes Wine offers in the near future. Italy has been to the forefront, but we are going to commence with a short offering of some of the finest white wines from the northern Rhône. Keep 'em peeled!


I have made something of a monumental decision regarding this year's primeurs tastings in Bordeaux i.e. I am not going.

I do not take this decision lightly; after all, I haven't missed primeurs week since 2002. My reasons are several, thus:

I consider primeurs business to be not only bad business, but also increasingly irrelevant. The machinations of the Bordelais are such that market manipulation is making it more-and-more time-consuming and frustrating to sell these wines for very little reward.

Now, the bigger merchants - Berry Barrow etc - will tell you that primeurs is a tremendously good idea. After I was quoted in the FT saying that I had advised my clients not to get involved in primeurs the MD of one such organisation took to social media to say that he begged to differ with my analysis.

Well, these "Big Boys" have long-standing and beneficial relationships in Bordeaux that mean they get high volumes of certain wines and discounts on many others. They know that if they interrupt the flow, their allocations will be directed elsewhere, ergo they are caught in that wilderness between rock and hard place.

The Bordelais have arrived at a stage where they don't care about their customers or, indeed, the end user of their product. What they care about is the value of their property: a value much increased by having a cellar full of wine.

Other reasons not to go:

The coverage of each vintage by wine writers whose palates I trust implicitly is extensive and readily available. And I will be able to secure most wines for those with specific requirements.

To go all the way to Bordeaux to taste overly young wines and take a few photographs seems, to me, like a waste of time and money (much as I would enjoy myself). 

So...I am instead going to Tuscany - Montalcino, to be precise - to check out the 2013 vintage for Brunello. The region has been blessed with a string of excellent harvests but the underground grapevine (and my own recent tastings) have suggested that 2013 is something very special indeed. And the wines are rather more interesting than a great many overpriced clarets!

Salicutti  Montalcino Tuscany

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