It is often remarked that the UK is the most competitive wine market in the world. Producers tell harrowing tales of having to sell their wines at lower prices than in their home market, despite transportation costs and Britain’s outrageously high alcohol tax regime. Some sell at or below cost to get a foothold in what is still a growing market, pushed by supermarkets that are keener than ever to sell at low prices and to boost margins by forcing discounts on their suppliers.
In much the same way, the UK is a tough place to be a wine writer. Not just because it seems almost everyone wants to try their hand – including this website – but because there is so much to write about. In any given week, there are dozens of tastings to attend – and hundreds in the key tasting seasons of April-June and September-November.
In turn, many of these events have hundreds of wines on show; ever tried to taste 200 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs or several hundred NV and Vintage Champagnes, which is what greets you at the annual CIVC tasting? Quite a few wine critics try to taste everything, something we think is a mistake, quite simply because it is impossible. After the 20th or so wine, even the most enthusiastic palate fades. Chances are they fade faster when presented with many similar wines, which is why at various “wine challenges” wine-weary critics often plump for the most unusual wines –regardless of quality – simply because they stick out from the rest.
Oldandnewworld tasting teams are seasoned and experienced but they are also sensible. We promise we won’t recommend wines on the back of a full day of tastings, or by following the opinions of others, but will stay true to our brief. Expect tips about wines from the New but also Old World that are distinctive, good value and which (quite simply) deserve to be tried.
Justin Keay has worked as a journalist for 25 years, writing for a range of publications including the New York Times, The Times, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal Europe. Although his main professional interests have been mostly in the fields of international relations and economics, he has long had a strong interest in wine, especially from lesser known producing countries. As deputy editor of CNBC European Business magazine, he launched their wine pages and has since continued his interests with this site, attending tastings and press trips whenever time and opportunity permit. Special interests within the Old World include Portugal and central and eastern Europe, and within the New, wines from the US, South Africa and New Zealand.