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|


By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 4 March 2023 My pick of a dozen top female winemakers from across the globe in South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, Germany, Sicily, Bulgaria and Hungary. South Africa: CHARLA BOSMAN – Sijnn Wines Talented winemaker Charla Bosman (pictured above) makes superb wines from low vigour bushvines on a remote farm near Malgas on the Breede river.  She has been key to Sijnn’s success, a vineyard and winery set up by pioneer David Trafford who discovered this isolated spot with its stony alluvial and weathered shale.  Enjoy the pure berry fruits and deep slate minerality of her Syrah/Touriga Nacional/Trincadeira blend Sijnn Red 2016 (£30 Raeburn Wine). Spain: PAOLA MEDINA SHELDON – Williams & Humbert Paola Sheldon (pictured below) is one of the new generation of sherrymakers pushing boundaries in the


By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 25 February 2023 My top dozen finds from wine growers around the world from New Zealand, France, Spain, Uruguay, Portugal, California, Chile and Hungary: WHITE Loire, France: DOMAINE DU CLERAY CHARDONNAY 2021 ***GOOD VALUE*** £12.95 Aitken Wines, Dundee Not many Loire winemakers grow Chardonnay and those that do use it in sparkling Cremant or Saumur.  This is exceptionally good value well-made still Chardonnay from Val de Loire.  Quite similar to Chablis in style with its sleek minerally palate and zippy citric fruits. Isere, France: DOMAINE JEREMY BRICKA VERDESSE PONT DE BRION 2020 £27 The Sourcing Table In little-known mountainous Isere south of Savoie region, Bricka – who was once a whisky distiller - is now focusing on nurturing rare local varieties in his winemaking.  Verdesse planted 500 metres altitude

2023-04-25T15:28:24+00:00February 26, 2023|Chile, France, Hungary, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay, USA|


By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 18 February 2023 What do the vineyards of Wagram in Austria, Walla Walla in eastern Washington State and Szekszard region in southern Hungary have in common?  They all share the same special soil type which creates floral fruit-forward whites and soft succulent approachable reds. The soil is ‘loess’ (pronounced luss), which means ‘loose’.  It is basically fine gritty crumbly loose-structured unstratified windblown clay and silt particles cemented by a little clay and lime.  It is mostly created by wind, but also formed by glaciers grinding rocks to fine powder.  Loess covers 10% of the earth’s surface across all continents, but is in particular concentrations in certain wine regions where you can find dramatic loess banks and terraces up to 50 metres high. “Loess is so under-rated”, explained winemaker Zoltan

2023-04-28T12:09:29+00:00February 18, 2023|Austria, Hungary, USA|


By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 11 February 2023 My pick of my Top Ten rose sparkling wines on our shelves to serve up on Valentine’s Day next week: ROSE SPARKLING WINE Italy: PROSECCO ROSE 2020 £10 Marks & Spencer This scored highest amongst the supermarket own label Prosecco Rose we tasted – our tasters loved its subtle fragrance, silky soft palate, bright raspberry fruits and sleek elegant finish.  Like all pink Prosecco it is made from Glera and Pinot Noir – with a moderate 11% alcohol. Italy: LE COLTURE PROSECCO ROSE BRUT 2020 £13.95 Corney & Barrow; £14 Hic Winemerchants One of the best pink Proseccos on the market at this price made by the famous Ruggeri family who grow Glera and Pinot Noir vines on terraces– all worked by hand in Valdobbiadene the

2023-04-28T12:02:17+00:00February 11, 2023|Chile, England, Italy, Roses Top Ten, South Africa, Sparkling WInes|


By Rose Murray Brown MW   Published in The Scotsman 4 February 2023 In April 2021 dramatic images of Burgundy’s vineyards were beamed across the world showing thousands of candles burning between the vines through the night.  With temperatures dropping as low as (minus) -8 degrees C on 6, 7 and 8 April, it was the worst days of frost in living memory for vignerons who desperately tried to protect their precious vines. Wine merchants are now offering the small quantity of wines made in this challenging vintage through ‘en primeur’ offers.  In a year that saw devastating April frosts, as well as June hail and summer rain, crop levels were extremely low with many wines made from the second generation of buds - but the white and red Burgundies that I have tasted so far have been surprisingly good

2023-04-28T11:59:47+00:00February 5, 2023|Burgundy|


This week I head to Eastern Europe and beyond – home to interesting native grape varieties and fantastic bargains too: SPARKLING Slovenia: ISTENIC PRESTIGE EXTRA BRUT 2017 £32.99 Novel Wines Stylish 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir blend from the Slovenian/Croatian border shows how good Slovenian traditional method fizz can be.  Founder Janez Istenic’s son Miha, based in historic Bizeljsko region, has created a stylish biscuity lemony lush-fruited fizz.  Beautifully packaged. WHITE Moldova: CHATEAU VARTELY DEALU NUCULUI VIORICA 2021 £7.99 Laithwaites Viorica is a local Moldovan grape created in 1969, initially bred as a quality grape to withstand cold winters.  Attractive floral bouquet with spicy notes, the Viorica grape would suit anyone who like dry Muscat or Gewurztraminer.  Pearskin and sherbet notes with herby undertones, citric fruit, textured and creamy – but still quite fresh. Croatia: KOZLOVIC MALVAZIJA 2021 £13 Strictly Wine Malvazija

2023-01-30T11:48:44+00:00January 30, 2023|Articles, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania|


The talk is always about matching whisky and haggis at this time of year, but for wine lovers there are plenty of wine options to pair with this peppery meaty dish.  For whites choose spicy rich textural wines like Gewurztraminer, Fiano or Viognier – and pick reds with bright juicy fruits, soft tannins and peppery notes like Syrah, Primitivo, Agiorgitiko, Zweigelt and Gamay. Here are my top choices under £20 for serving with your Burns Night haggis, neeps & tatties on Wednesday: WHITES: Sicily, Italy: ‘CIACA BIANCA’ FIANO 2022 Mandrarossa £10.99-£12 Aitken Wines; Luvians; Vida Wines; Fine Wine Musselburgh Upfront juicy apricot fruit with peachy flavours, light spice and herby notes would more than stand up to haggis’ coarse oatmeal texture and spicy offal and onion – with enough fresh minerality and acidity to cleanse the palate. Alsace, France:  THE

2023-01-30T11:48:44+00:00January 30, 2023|Articles, Australia, France, Greece, Italy, Spain|


We don’t get many Washington State wines on our UK shelves.  Despite being the second largest US wine producer after California with over 1000 wineries, Washington State seems under-represented here. With a burgeoning local market in Seattle, there is plenty of demand back home for this young thriving wine industry, which first began in 1950s and 1960s – similar to neighbour Oregon – but strangely Oregon is better known over here. Now enterprising UK retailer Ally Wines have started importing some of Washington State’s best wines from small independent wineries.  It is several years since I last tasted Washington State’s wines and I was impressed by the quality, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah which have progressed in the last decade as winemakers focus on different areas within the state. There is a diverse mix of climate, soil

2023-01-30T11:48:44+00:00January 30, 2023|Articles, USA|


My pick of ten progressive wineries to watch in 2023: Oregon: WALTER SCOTT Husband and wife team Ken & Erica Pahlow are making some of the most sought-after Chardonnay from Oregon.  With a combination of Ken’s winemaking and Erica’s sommelier experience, they make a formidable team (pictured above).  Try their Bois Moi Chardonnay 2020 (£25 – a one-off composite bottling of six top vineyard sites including X-Novo, Seven Springs and Freedom Hill.  Lovely flinty minerality with lemony fruit and fine depth of flavour. Spain: BODEGAS LUIS PEREZ The Perez family have been growers in Jerez region for centuries, but it is the winemaking duo of father Luis Perez and son Willy Perez (pictured above) who are really changing the face of Jerez today.  They make both stylish focused unfortified Palomino wines and very refined terroir-focused sherries.  Check out their impressive range with El Muelle de

2023-01-30T11:48:44+00:00January 30, 2023|Articles, Roses Top Ten|


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