With names like Piggy Pop, Cosmonat and Flower Girl and bright psychedelic funky labels, ‘Pet Nats’ might sound and look like frivolous fizzy drinks.  They are in fact very interesting deliciously fruity sparkling wines which are currently hugely popular around the world. The name Pet Nat means Petillant Naturel – hence the name given to these spritzy sparklers which are usually found topped with crown caps (aka beer caps) - which are much more effective than corks as closures for sparkling wines. Pet Nats might be the hippest and trendiest drinks in the bar right now, but they are actually one of the oldest fizz predating Champagne.  They are the same as Methode Ancestrale or Methode Rural.  This age-old process usually involves a wine from one harvest bottled before the alcoholic fermentation has finished.  By bottling it early, the


Natural wine lovers flocked to Edinburgh’s first Real Wine Fair held in Timberyard last month, an independent festival of natural growers and winemakers from around the world. The room was buzzing with sommeliers and buyers all keen to taste the latest vintages from small artisan producers imported by four enterprising winemerchants: London-based Les Caves de Pyrene, Fife-based L’Art du Vin, Glasgow-based Sevslo Wine and Edinburgh-based Fion Wines. ‘Natural wine’ or ‘real wine’ has become a growing trend, but it has no precise definition so each grower tends to have their own approach.  Loosely the term means wines that are made using organic and/or biodynamic methods in the vineyards without any chemicals using low yields, without any artificial yeasts or enzymes and maybe only a tiny amount of sulphur.  So with few or zero interventions in the winery, it is

2023-05-16T14:45:55+00:00May 15, 2023|Articles, Austria, France, Red Wines, Spain, White Wines|


The latest innovation in the Tokaj region in north east Hungary, best known for its famous sweet wines, is a range of premium dry sparkling wines. With the combination of Tokaj’s diverse volcanic bedrock terroir and the versatile Furmint grape, the fizz that has emerged in the last decade is impressive and distinctive - a unique contribution to the world of sparkling wine. Tokaj fizz is not new.  The first was made in the region in Golop near Tallya in 1829 by Baron Miklos, who studied in France and recommended Furmint as the best for the fizz base.  In C19 Hungary, part of Austro-Hungarian empire, was the second largest sparkling wine producer outside Champagne, so hardly surprising that Tokaj fizz was attempted. The real turning point in the modern era came on 1 January 2013, when the law changed

2023-05-07T11:46:17+00:00May 4, 2023|Articles, Hungary, Sparkling WInes, White Wines|


My latest wine finds from around the world for springtime drinking: SPARKLING Mosel, Germany: COSMONAT PET NAT Jan Philipp Bleek £21 Made From Grapes, Glasgow Funky labelled vividly crisp creamy textured 100% Pinot Noir fizz.  Made using biodynamic and organic methods on Mosel’s slatey soils by a natural wine advocate.  Bleek uses the ‘ancestral method’ to capture the sparkle, bottling the fizz part way through its first ferment. Sussex, England: ROEBUCK ESTATES ROSE DE NOIRS 2017 £42 Roebuck In an extensive English fizz tasting, this stood out for its red berry aromatics and rich intensity.  The addition of Pinot Meunier with a dash of Pinot Precoce alongside Pinot Noir gives floral notes and soft texture.  Roebuck are currently one of the best rose fizz producers in the UK. WHITE Peloponnese, Greece: THE SOCIETY’S GREEK WHITE 2022 Semeli £8.95

2023-05-04T08:30:03+00:00May 4, 2023|Red Wines, Sparkling WInes, Top Finds, White Wines|


Standing at the top of the famous Szent Tamas vineyard in Tokaj wine region, I have a 360 degree view of Mad basin with its cluster of volcanic cone hills and roll-call of ‘super-vineyards’. Under my feet are red clay and rhyolite volcanic rocks in Szent Tamas, which turn to yellowish brown clay in neighbouring Nyulaszo.  Below me in the eastern basin are whiter soils in lower Betsek with the higher terraced red clay and zeolite-based Oreg Kiraly vineyard in the distance.  To the west of Mad village are another line-up of famous steep slopes including Urban, Uragya and Kozephegy. These hillside ‘crus’ (called ‘dulos’ in Hungarian) have been renowned for 400 years for legendary Tokaj sweet wines.  They were so revered, they were ranked in the world’s first classification in C18, but during communism were neglected and blended

2023-05-07T11:45:26+00:00April 16, 2023|Articles, Hungary|


One country I have been so impressed with in its development over the last two decades is Uruguay. In the past it has been dominated by its larger noisier neighbours, but there has been a quiet wine revolution going on here – particularly in the dynamic easterly Maldonado region. Sizewise Uruguay is tiny compared to Argentina, Chile and Brazil.  Today it has just 5,990 hectares – which is about the same vineyard area as St Emilion in Bordeaux – and a population the same size as Wales.  But in South American terms, small is beautiful here in Uruguay with an exciting range of wines now emerging from unusual grape varieties grown on a diverse range of soils. The great challenge here is high humidity so close to the Atlantic, so vines are often trained higher to ensure aeration around

2023-05-07T11:46:50+00:00April 8, 2023|Articles, Uruguay|


Everyone loves a bargain when times get tough – so I have been searching for wines under £12 across the world to serve this Easter – with some fantastic finds in unusual places such as Amyndeon in northern Greece and Costers del Segre in Spain. SPARKLING WINE Penedes, Spain: CONTEVEDO CAVA ROSADO NV  ***STAR VALUE*** £5.75 Aldi Remarkably fruity and intense for the price – this zippy fresh Catalonian blend made by the traditional method (as all Cava is) has delightful apple and raspberry aromas, crunchy red berried fruit palate, hints of honey and a fine mousse.  Shows what a bargain Cava rosado can be. Penedes, Spain: THE WINE SOCIETY CAVA RESERVE BRUT NV £9.50 The Wine Society Expertly made by a family winery run by Carlos and Nuria Sumarroca who make all their Cavas from their own vineyards. 

2023-04-28T12:33:02+00:00April 8, 2023|Argentina, Chile, France, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Spain|


The Albarino grape has been one of the big white wine success stories of the last decade with UK sales from Galicia in northern Spain almost doubling since 2015. Now that its zippy freshness and rich textures are becoming so popular around the world, the homeland and origin of the grape in Rias Baixas in North West Spain is keen to send a message to the world that the Albarino craze all began with them. One of the main challenges, which I believe is the reason why people do not know the region that well, is that Rias Baixas is a tricky name to pronounce: ‘Ree-ass-Bye-Shuss’ - whereas the grape name Albarino is so much easier.  The name Rias Baixas refers to the ‘little estuaries’ just north of the Portuguese border with Spain, distinguishing itself from the larger estuaries

2023-04-28T12:29:58+00:00April 8, 2023|Spain|


By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 18 March 2023 Chile’s new generation of winemakers are now pushing the boundaries more than ever before to create more subtle cool climate wines. At the recent Wines of Chile tasting in Edinburgh, wine expert Patrick Schmitt MW described how Chilean wineries were heading north, south, east and west in this long thin country to achieve their goals. Since C19, the larger wineries had focused their attention on classic grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the central valley region from Maipo to Rapel – but that has all changed. “What we are now seeing in Chile is a fascinating diversity as winemakers search out cooler microclimates in the length and breadth of their country to make more elegant refined wine styles – and also an interesting revival of their

2023-04-28T12:24:15+00:00March 18, 2023|Chile|


By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 11 March 2023 As Fairtrade Fortnight draws to a close, I look back at my pick of the top Fairtrade wines tasted over this promotional fortnight.  All wines below have the Fairtrade certification.  For every bottle of Fairtrade wine sold throughout the year, a small additional amount of the selling price – what they call ‘social premiums’ are paid back to their community foundation to fund local projects from aftercare centres, hygiene upgrades to local choirs. This global system helps disadvantaged small scale farmers and workers across the world improve their living standards and invest in their community winery, school and brand.  South Africa is by far the world’s largest Fairtrade wine producer, but you can also find Fairtrade labels from Lebanon, Chile and Argentina. The most prominent retailer of

2023-04-25T15:44:51+00:00March 11, 2023|Argentina, Chile, South Africa|


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