I’m A Hundred On That
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
“Peter,” one of my fellow diners said, “you have written about wine scores a couple of times, haven’t you?”. Well, time for another one I guess. Why do we keep coming back to the value of scores? Their ubiquity and commercial impact must be a major reason. In almost every wine conversation there is someone that declares “I don’t believe in scores and critics anymore”, which immediately transports me to middle school and the self-important bore who informed us that Nirvana “sold out” so he doesn’t listen to them anymore. Well, the rest of us do. (And these days the bore works in the small-town ..read more
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Peaks And Troughs
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
I’ve always liked Sauzet Burgundies well enough. And if that sounds tepid, it’s supposed to: they were clearly very good, but just never set my pulses racing. And then this January, at the Liberty Wines tasting, I was ambushed. That is the only word for it. I was taken utterly by surprise by wines that sang with life. From the Aligoté upwards, they were amazing. (And I do not mean ‘amazing’ in the way that some people say ‘amazing!’ to every single damned thing you say.) I wasn’t expecting anything like that. But even if I was in the market for such a wine, which at £110.99 retail for the vill ..read more
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Hallowed Ground
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
It was a scary moment, at least in wine terms. There I was in the cellar at Domaine Leroy in Vosne-Romanée, tasting some of the most expensive reds on the planet. Meetings with Madame Bize are never relaxing. She combines hauteur with the ability to freeze a glass of Pinot Noir at ten paces. People who have earned her displeasure are never granted access to her presence again. We were 15 wines into the tasting when we got to the Corton Renardes. In my view, it was so badly reduced as to be unpalatable, at least at that moment. What to do? The great lady had put her nose in the glass and pronou ..read more
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Maps Of Flavours
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
‘Which Greek wineries do you rate?’ my new kind-of-colleague asked when we broke for coffee. ‘Thymiopoulos,’ I said, hoping and praying that either our Italian colleague would interrupt, or that the meeting would start again soon. The conversation wasn’t going well at all. As a wine professional, I am used to being asked by new acquaintances how I got into wines, which wines I like, and sometimes what is my favourite wine. I have a selection of stock answers which have served me well through the years. I had recently added to my repertoire an interest in Greek wines for an added flourish. I’d ..read more
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In Praise Of Wine Elitism
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
Every now and again as a wine person, it’s salutary to be reminded of the limits of the British public’s knowledge of wine and the dense knot of anxieties surrounding it. Recently a national newspaper was running a short, light piece I’d written on the challenges of big tastings, a cri de coeur brought on by Burgundy en primeur week. At the last minute, I received an email from them: “The deputy editor wonders if you might do a little work on it? Could you reveal a few tips and myths about wine-tasting for the average punter? Should you sniff and taste, or just sniff? Which wines should you lo ..read more
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Different Wine Talk
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
I am fascinated by wine descriptions. From a series of adjectives, often without a verb to change them into a sentence, to accounts using metaphors whose poetry can take your breath away (just read, for example, Oz Clarke, Andrew Jefford, or Tamlyn Currin), wine writing offers a dizzying spectrum of practices. No wonder perhaps that ‘wine language’ has often been reflected on by wine writers. For an academic linguist like me, reflections on wine language are a rich source of insight into how language and wine communication are perceived. Most recently, such a reflection was made by Cong Cong B ..read more
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We’ve Never Had It So Good
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
“I have opinions of my own, strong opinions,” that beacon of American conservative thought, George W. Bush, is alleged to have told us, “but I don’t always agree with them.” I felt a bit like that towards the end of my claim to be living in the Post-Modern era of wine. It’s not that I don’t stand by my analysis, of course I do, it is just that it made things feel so…dismal. It is something that happens often when you try to capture the complexity of reality in neat conceptual schemata. The Curse of Theory I call it. It explains why so many rich kids with humanities degrees seem to be unhappy a ..read more
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Ultimate Aromatherapy
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
One of the first challenges of knowing any subject is learning to speak its language. Key terms allow aficionados to rapidly convey the gist of a wine in short-hand, and indeed to remember what it was like. While I find this specialist vernacular helpful in my role as wine buyer, sommelier, student, and avid drinker today, it is also the main reason why I didn’t get “into” wine until only five years ago. My best friend at College spent his money on two things: clothes, and food. In fact, prior to matriculation, he’d already eaten at The Fat Duck. Soon enough, I was also well-versed in Michelin ..read more
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The Joys In Between
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
“Taste must not be confused with gastronomy. Whereas taste in the natural gift of recognizing and loving perfection, gastronomy is the set of rules which govern the cultivation and education of taste… And this brings us to the heart of the problem: If the gourmet is a delicate connoisseur, is the gastronome a pedant?… Not everyone is a gourmet; that is why we need gastronomes. We must look upon gastronomes as we look upon pedagogues in general: they are sometimes intolerable pedants, but they have their uses.” P de Pressac, Considérations sur la Cuisine So there we were, in an artfully-lit vau ..read more
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COP28 And Its Implications For The Wine Industry.
Tim Atkin | Master of Wine
by Tim Atkin
1d ago
The United Arab Emirates was a contentious host for the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, and Sultan Al Jaber oversaw two weeks of tense negotiations and fractious debates under the Dubai sunshine. The stage was set with the recent news that global temperatures last year were nearly 1.5° higher than the industrial average, the number that the Paris Agreement saw as the point of no return. The current trajectory predicts a 2.8° increase, meaning swathes of current vineyards may no longer be viable. The phasing out of fossil fuels was always going to be the most controversial topic ..read more
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