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Tim Atkin MW: State of the Union Jack

Published:  09 March, 2018

What does the Union Jack symbolise to you? Pride? Shame? Sovereignty? Populism? Peace? Colonialism? All are possible responses and have been almost since the flag was designed in 1800 to reflect the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. As Tim Marshall writes in his recent book, Worth Dying For: The Power and Politics of Flags, “its beauty or otherwise is in the eye, imagination and politics of the beholder”.


Tim Atkin MW: Day Zero looms for South Africa

Published:  09 February, 2018

“Day Zero” sounds like the title of a dystopian disaster movie, starring Matt Damon or an ageing Bruce Willis perhaps. But what’s happening in South Africa right now has nothing to do with fantasy or fiction. On the contrary, it’s all too real. If you’ve not been reading the news from Cape Town recently, the city is about to run out of water. On January 18, the city’s mayor, Patricia de Lille, said that the “point of no return” had been reached and that, if things continue as they are with little or no rainfall, by April 12 (Day Zero), the taps will be turned off.


Tim Atkin MW: Taking the temperature of Chile

Published:  15 January, 2018

The samples didn’t look very special, to be honest. Bottled in the sort of thing they ask you to fill in doctor’s surgeries, they’d arrived by plane from the south that morning courtesy of Fernando Almeda of Miguel Torres Chile. The reality was considerably more exciting than the makeshift package, however. I was about to taste the first releases from the world’s most southerly vineyard.


Tim Atkin MW: Wine's luxury lustre

Published:  06 December, 2017

Serendipity is part of the pleasure of owning a wine cellar. Unless you’re the kind of person who keeps a log of every bottle that’s down there – I’m as organised as the next Virgo, but there are limits – these chance discoveries are wonderful. Well, most of the time. For every bottle of oxidised Condrieu or dried-out claret, there are dozens that are exciting to unearth. I had a bottle of 2006 TMV Swartland Syrah recently, made by Chris and Andrea Mullineux before they set up their own now globally famous winery in South Africa, and it was a revelation.


Tim Atkin: Semillon - The Naked Grape

Published:  06 October, 2017

When I was younger, fitter and considerably trimmer than I am now, I took part (twice) in a wine trade version of The Full Monty for charity. The name of our group of buffed-up writers, sommeliers and importers was The Semillons (geddit?). So, when I received an invitation to an event called The Semillon Sessions recently, part of me hoped that a new group of amateur strippers would be strutting their moves on a stage somewhere.


The week that was

Published:  22 September, 2017

In case you missed some of the headlines this week on, we have put together a review of the top online news, Q&As, and opinion stories.


The Pinot Noir Alliance announces first session

Published:  18 September, 2017

Five producers from some of the world’s most famous Pinot Noir producing regions are teaming up to promote the variety worldwide.


Tim Atkin MW: Roll over leafroll

Published:  11 July, 2017

Tim Atkin MW, wine critic, broadcaster and co-chair of the IWC, talks about the the disease behind South Africa's beautiful autumn colours which is causing significant damage to the country's vines 


Tim Atkin MW: Why wine and food pairing is not an art

Published:  07 June, 2017

At the height of her fame as a Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity Fit Club contestant, ex-Tory MP Ann Widdecombe was asked to write a book about how to lose weight. Her response was that were she to produce such a work, it would be very short. So short indeed that it would contain just two simple injunctions: “eat less” and “exercise more”. 


The political threat to our wine life

Published:  10 March, 2017

"Stick to wine, Tim - you're wasting time." If you spend as many hours as I do on social media channels, you get used to - and even rather enjoy - the odd spat, but this was different.


Tim Atkin MW: Can artificial intelligence replace human judgment in the world of wine?

Published:  08 February, 2017

What do you think of the following tasting note? "Inconspicuous boysenberries and cigar wrappers revel in unresolved rosehips, while dried wormwood and chemically tanned leather swim amongst illusive black liquorice." And this? "Like a sherry, wet wool, mead, musk and nail polish remover cocktail." 


Tim Atkin MW: Burgundy 2015 - a year for the little guys?

Published:  11 January, 2017

Burgundy and Bordeaux may share a common language, but they are very different places.


Tim Atkin MW: The rise of the counterfeit wine trade around the globe

Published:  05 December, 2016

Investigative journalism is a dangerous business. Indeed, you could argue that in its purest form it's often fatal.


Tim Atkin MW: Rioja's future lies in diversity, not uniformity

Published:  09 November, 2016

The poster in Vivanco's Museum of Wine Culture said it all. It was first published in 2001, but it looked much older than that.


Tim Atkin MW: What will happen to brand Brangelina?

Published:  30 September, 2016

You can always rely on the wine trade to show a sense of perspective. As Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie prepare to eviscerate one another in the divorce courts, no doubt damaging the lives of their six children in the process, the question on everyone's lips is: what's going to happen to Château Miraval?


Tim Atkin MW: The impossible task of running a generic body

Published:  02 September, 2016

Tim Atkin MW looks at the challenges of running a generic body and how producers may often times have unrealistic expectations of a single person or job.


Tim Atkin MW: Embracing change and pushing boundaries

Published:  05 August, 2016

Liks so many industries the wine world is in flux and Tim Atkin challenges that may not be a bad thing.


Tim Atkin: What will an EU exit mean for the wine trade?

Published:  08 July, 2016

What will Brexit mean for the wine business? In the traumatic week that has followed the referendum and the decision of 52% of voters to leave the European Union, the very question has seemed increasingly, almost fatuously, irrelevant.


Tim Atkin MW: Where does Spain fit in the battle for wine supremacy?

Published:  03 June, 2016

Tim Atkin takes a look at Spanish terrior and where Spanish wines fit in the hieracrchy for supermacy as a top wine producing country.


Analysis: Burgundy's best buys

Published:  29 April, 2016

With Burgundy prices edging ever upwards, supply short and demand on a high, Tim Atkin MW looks at canny buys.


Tim Atkin MW: The health of wine on the UK high street

Published:  29 April, 2016

Failing the emergence of a last-minute saviour, BHS looks set to slide into administration this week, joining a list of major high street casualties that includes Comet, Woolworths and JJB Sports.


Tim Atkin MW: Let's talk climate change

Published:  01 April, 2016

You don't have to be meteorologist to appreciate that something very unusual is happening to the world's weather right now.


Tim Atkin MW: wising up to en primeur

Published:  04 March, 2016

You might not have noticed, but the annual Bordeaux en primeur campaign is almost upon us.


Tim Atkin MW: The story of the world's highest vineyard

Published:  05 February, 2016

In his wonderful book BAD: Or, the Dumbing of America, the late Paul Fussell developed a theory about altitude: the higher the restaurant, the worse the food.


Tim Atkin MW: Debating the merits of terroir

Published:  08 January, 2016

"Soil is dirt." I'm sure the Californian producer Bill Jekel was being deliberately provocative when he entered into a well-publicised debate about terroir with Bruno Prats of Château Cos d'Estournel at the end of the 1980s, but he was also articulating a position that was widely held in the New World at the time.


Tim Atkin MW: The battle over inheritance in Burgundy

Published:  04 December, 2015

Tim Atkin MW weighs in on the battle over inheritance in Burgundy and how it is tough for families where some want to sell and others want to carry on the family tradition.


Tim Atkin MW: Has Alberto Antonini opted to lead rather than follow the market?

Published:  30 October, 2015

Tim Atkin asks whether Alberto Antonini has decided to break away from more traditional styles of wine defined by the likes of Michel Rolland and to forge his own path.


Tim Atkin MW: Young winemakers behind South Africa's "golden" age of wine

Published:  09 October, 2015

When was the last time you entered a wine tasting through a record shop?


Tim Atkin MW: Rioja revolución

Published:  11 September, 2015

Tim Atkin MW takes a look at the current battle brewing in Rioja over regionality label regulations.


Tim Atkin MW: Swartland versus Stellenbosch

Published:  07 August, 2015

When the 400 tickets for this year's Swartland Revolution went on sale earlier this summer, they sold out within two minutes. It's the Wild West of wine.


Tim Atkin MW: The quality and diversity of Georgia

Published:  17 July, 2015

Tim Atkin MW: The hard work for Priorat wine pioneers

Published:  05 June, 2015

The village of Bellmunt del Priorat has its very own mining museum, a tribute to a time when lead was more important than grapes to the economy of this wild and isolated corner of Catalonia.


Tim Atkin MW: To spray or not to spray?

Published:  08 May, 2015

Tim Atkin MW takes a closer look at the current court case against Nuits-Saint-Georges' Thibault Liger-Belair.


Tim Atkin MW: Burgundy mourns the passing of Anne-Claude Leflaive

Published:  10 April, 2015

Anne-Claude Leflaive was sometimes described as one of Burgundy's "grandes dames" but there was nothing aloof about the woman who ran the most famous white wine domaine in the Côte de Beaune. Relaxed, friendly, yet intensely focused, Anne-Claude inherited the easy charm and sense of humour of her father, Vincent, who preceded her at the helm of this prestigious property.


Last chance for the Bordelais to get it right with 'out of touch' en primeur

Published:  06 March, 2015

There's a scene in This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner's 1984 spoof rockumentary about English heavy metal band Spinal Tap, that features a live performance of a song called "Stonehenge".


Tim Atkin MW: Last chance for Bordeaux to get it right with 'out of touch' en primeur

Published:  06 March, 2015

There's a scene in This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner's 1984 spoof rockumentary about English heavy metal band Spinal Tap, that features a live performance of a song called "Stonehenge". Keen to add some extra theatre to the gig, the band commission a model of the prehistoic English monument, which descends from above as they play on stage. There's only one problem: the dimensions are all wrong. Instead of 18-foot replica stones, the band orders 18-inch ones by mistake.


What we can all learn from the failure of Vinopolis

Published:  16 February, 2015

Is it really 16 years since Vinopolis opened its doors to the public? I can clearly remember the hoopla and sense of anticipation that accompanied the launch of London's self-styled "premier wine-tasting experience and visitor attraction".


Tim Atkin MW: What we can all learn from the failure of Vinopolis

Published:  06 February, 2015

Is it really 16 years since Vinopolis opened its doors to the public? I can clearly remember the hoopla and sense of anticipation that accompanied the launch of London's self-styled "premier wine-tasting experience and visitor attraction".


Tim Atkin MW: remembers true "pioneers" Serge Hochar and Dave West

Published:  09 January, 2015

It's highly unlikely that Dave West, the former barrow boy who created wholesale drinks warehouse EastEnders in Calais, and Serge Hochar of Lebanon's Château Musar ever met.


Tim Atkin MW: Why we must all share the blame for cheap wine

Published:  05 December, 2014

Mad Frankie Fraser, the notorious gangster who died last week, was famous for using pliers to extract his victims' teeth under torture. One hesitates to say that the wine trade could have used the skills of a man who worked for both the Kray twins and the Richardson gang, but there are times when persuading consumers to trade up can feel like pulling molars.


Tim Atkin: why consumers could fall out of love with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Published:  07 November, 2014

Some milestones make you think. Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the founding of Cloudy Bay, one of the most successful wine brands ever, and a label that helped to launch an entire region.


Tim Atkin on why modern winemaking is a breath of fresh air

Published:  03 October, 2014

"To thine own self be true." Polonius' advice to his son Laertes in Hamlet is arguably easier to give than to follow. Most of us make regular compromises in our personal and professional lives. We don't lie to ourselves exactly, but we fall short of the absolute standards to which we aspire.


Tim Atkin reflects on the star quality of the life of Baroness Philippine de Rothschild

Published:  05 September, 2014

As you'd expect of a former actress, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild liked an audience. When Château Mouton-Rothschild hosted the Fête de la Fleur celebration at Vinexpo in June 2003, after guests had enjoyed liberal quantities of the legendary 1982 she took to the stage to thank the room. She had, she announced, invited a good friend along to sing to us. To the sound of the opening bars of the drinking song from Verdi's La Traviata, a black curtain opened behind her to reveal none other than Placido Domingo. Most people would be upstaged by a world famous opera singer, but Philippine had star quality of her own.


Tim Atkin: why the Chinese wine market is so hard to predict

Published:  08 August, 2014

First time visitors to Beijing are often struck by the pollution that seems to blanket the city on a daily basis, reducing visibility and filling lungs with undesirable gunk. It's a symbol of China's rush towards industrialisation, as well as the lack of environmental checks and controls. But it's tempting to see it as a metaphor, too, not least for the wine industry. Trying to understand what is going on in China can feel like staring into a Stygian fug at times.



Tim Atkin MW on the hail crisis in Burgundy and what producers could learn from Argentina

Published:  04 July, 2014

"Would you like to go up in one of our planes?" asked Eduardo Martín, director of the Argentinean Ministry of Agriculture's anti-hail squad. It was an offer that was all too easy to refuse. In Mendoza, the 24 pilots who are employed by the Ministry to combat hail are paid danger money and deserve every peso. Since 1998, when planes seeding clouds with silver iodide replaced rockets as a way of combating the biggest risk to vineyards, the pilots have been doing what must rank as one of the scariest jobs in the world. You fly inside a cloud at 1,500 metres for up to seven hours a day with almost zero visibility, relying on your instruments to guide you. A plane went down in 2004 and it won't be the last.


Tim Atkin MW: How do we turn "cool" sherry into hard sales?

Published:  30 May, 2014

Tim Atkin MW weighs in on the growing popularity of sherry....yes that's right-sherry!


Tim Atkin: Can Rioja's vintage be as good as it claims?

Published:  02 May, 2014

It's probably scant consolation to château owners struggling to sell their wines en primeur right now, but Bordeaux wasn't the only European region that had a difficult vintage in 2013. I was in Rioja last October and the harvest was wet and nail-bitingly late. The skies were some of the darkest I've ever seen in the region.


Tim Atkin MW: Why en primeur is not working

Published:  04 April, 2014

Tim Atkin MW on why the en primeur system needs urgent reform to not only regain the trust of critics and the trade alike but most importantly keep it relevant and credible to future investors. 


Tim Atkin MW: Can we really believe it when a wine is awarded 100 points?

Published:  07 March, 2014

What's the definition of a 100-point wine? Depending on who's handing out the numbers, a cynic might say it's something you can't afford and don't want to drink anyway, but the question deserves a more considered answer. Scores are an increasingly big deal in the wine world, relied upon by merchants, auction houses and investors as a short hand for buying and selling wine. They are even used by real consumers from time to time.