Examples of Tom's published written work
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 27th May 2021 - Cap Classique
2021 marks 50 years of Cap Classique wines, the incredible sparkling wines, made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier (of Champagne fame) throughout the Western Cape of South Africa. Simonsig were first out the traps, releasing Kaapse Vonkel in 1971; followed by a host of brilliant producers, each pushing each-other forward and driving quality.
As a category, their general state of dress gives Hugh Laurie’s Prince Regent in Blackadder The Third a run for his money. An excess of filigree and rouge and pomp, but wrestle them out of Mrs Miggin’s Pie Shop, get them open and they’re modern, exciting, delicious wines that we all need in our lives.
Is there better value to be found in fizz? You’d be tough pressed to argue otherwise.
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 15th November 2020
... The wine is incredibly light in the glass, a very pale gold. As you swirl it a little to impress your family and friends it releases a fine orchard-fruit aromatic character. It’s elegant and subtle, rather than screaming at you. Really fine. Your family continue to ignore you. There are crisp green apples, lemon citruses and unripe pear aromas – none of it bruised, all fresh picked. There’s a lovely tangerine and really subtle lychee aromatic note to it too, just a tiny bit but enough to lift it and make it fun.
The palate is dry, light and properly fresh with English zippy acid, balanced perfectly by that concentrated lemon, apple and pear fruit and just enough soft texture. There’s a tiny little pink grapefruit on the finish too. It’s a lean, clean, pretty white with great balance and a sense of finesse. One of the best English whites I’ve had this year, without question.
You could throw oysters at this and be in absolute ecstasy with the pairing of salty brine and electric lemon. A natural choice, as the vines at Heppington are practically family with Whitstable’s famous natives nearby. If you don’t live nearby and require your regular dose of zinc, as I do, I heartily recommend Wright Brothers’s home delivery seafood – including a range of incredible oysters to shuck yourself, a skill none of us know we have until the challenge is upon us. This could be your time.
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 10th September 2020
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If ever there were a ‘time of year’ for Chenin, I reckon right now is it. September’s kicked in and has brought with it the darker, cooler evenings and the classic random mix of summery warm hours during the day, with sudden chilly breezes. We’ve seen Autumn before, let’s not over-do it Tom. Harvests have been kicking off across Europe and the cooler parts like the UK are limbering up to get their snips out in the coming weeks too. There’s action...
... And, yes, Chenin is grown all over the world. The Loire in France is it’s natural home. But I’m focusing on South Africa for two good reasons. One; simply is that the Western Cape of SA has more Chenin planted than anywhere on the planet, with a fair amount of it now being fantastically old bush vines making extraordinary wines of character, diversity of style and texture. Prime for right now. Two; South African producers have had a well-documented, particularly challenging time of it during Covid, with successive local and international restrictions on sales of their wine. It’s been rubbish for everyone, but SA producers need our support significantly right now and the best way to do that is to buy some and drink it!
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 27th August 2020
Anyone who knows me personally, or has watched my wine stuff regularly will be well aware of the burning passion I hold for sherry. Contrary to popular belief, I’m here to tell you that if you don’t drink sherry regularly then you’re showing your age. A total Grandma. A dinosaur. All the cool kids are quaffing it and a few generations back they knew it was good too. It’s just skipped a few, which will come to be known in time as the dark ages.
I love the fresh, bright dry styles – Fino and Manzanilla. I love the richer, nuttier, more complex styles like Amontillado, Oloroso and Palo Cortado. Those three can be anywhere from bone dry to sweet and will tell you on the label. I’ll even throw caution to the wind and drink the viscous, sweet cream styles with you, with complete abandon and glee and puppy-like naivety if you ask me to. They are all glorious.
This week, I discovered Xeco...
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 17th August 2020
Top of the list of things I want every enjoyer of wine to feel comfortable with (and that’s a pretty long list, gang) is joyfully throwing food and wine together with total happiness and abandon. Too many people approach food and wine pairing as a worrisome concept and overthink it.
The idea that food and wine can be perfectly paired to one another can, of course, be looked upon as a challenge, with anything less than achieving precise perfect balance a failure. If you really want to do that to yourself be my guest, but it sounds rubbish [...]
There are a few food and wine matching truths that will help you create pairings that work well, without the worry [...]
Truth one; chewy, tannic wines and big, chewy protein go hand in hand. Protein and Tannin bind together and both are softened. The combination of tannin in wine and protein in foods make both the dish and the wine easier to enjoy. It’s as simple as that.
Truth two is an equation; Salt + Fat + Acid. I might get that in a tattoo. On my knuckles. Salty, fatty dishes balanced with fresh acidity is the greatest thing in the world. The acidity zips through the rich fat. The salt and acidity zing together and create incredible flavour. And I’m not just talking about fresh, zippy whites here – the best rich, heavy reds have a fine balancing acid to them too and that’s often what sets them apart from the crowd for me. A case in point is this weeks’ wine and food pairing.
I have been sent a trio of reds from the brilliant Argentinian producer Rutini and I went full Argentinian stereotype and got a joint of beef to match...
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 31st July 2020
... If you just try one of these, try the Nascetta; it’s labelled as “Anas-Cetta”, a synonym, just to add further complexity. Until Elvio Cogno and a few other producers rediscovered it, it had been relegated to a few vines here and there between the rows and rows of big-hitter Nebbiolo. Everybody loves a long-lost, rare grape!
The 2018 Anascetta is a pale gold in the glass. It’s a fine and elegant, medium-bodied, herbaceous and gently blossomy character. There’s manuka honey alongside the grapefruit, peach and lemon citrus. There’s a candle waxy character throughout. It’s endlessly complex, aromatic but not soapy and taut with acidity. It’s epically delicious. I want more and more and more.
Then there’s the Barbaresco Bordini 2013. No rare grape here, the legendary Nebbiolo. Pale garnet in colour, it promises maturity and complexity. But, when you sniff and sip, it’s a fine balance of red cherry, blackcurrant and proving cinnamon bun dough on a medium bodied frame. It has that roses and fresh tar thing you’ll be told to look out for in Nebbiolo and natural red liquorice. It’s dry and tannic and has a bitter coffee bean finish but everything’s zipped along by refreshing acid throughout. Everything’s in complete harmony – there’s no big bold oak or juicy fruit. It’s elegant, refined, cool...
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 15th July 2020
... I find myself alone downstairs seeking something easy to take the edge off the week-so-far and anything I can grill in five minutes on the George Forman for dinner. Nutrition, be damned.
My mind wanders to El Berrakin. Snuffling about the place and bumping things over. Nudging the sofa and denting the plumped cushions. All muscle and stiff hair and tusks. That’s a good idea. Let’s have some of that, I think. And a cheese and ham toastie.
El Berrakin is the brilliant Grenache (Garnacha, we’re in Spain here) made by Daniel Ramos in the little-known, mountainous wine region of Gredos, near Madrid. The wild boar warning sign on the label gave me the excuse for the ridiculous intro. This is incredibly pure and bright, medium-weight, cherry and red berry fruited, elegant Grenache. A long way from the ripe, dark fruits and stewed strawberry, chewy wines I so often associate with this grape. If you like new world Pinot Noir, you’ll be enthralled by this...
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 1st July 2020
Swing open an indie wine merchant’s door in July and you’ll gauge if they’re on the pulse or not by whether you’re hit by a sharp, bright waft of apricots, citrus and pineapple. If it smells like they may have knocked over a small can of petrol, that shouldn’t necessarily put you off entering either. Although, perhaps have a cursory glance about initially. And put your fag out. Just in case.
July is, after all, the month of 31 Days Of German Riesling and those aromas are what you’re looking for on a tight, lean, electric frame. There’s even a hashtag for it. Basically, loads of indies take the month to offer special pricing, tastings and ‘extras’ of all kinds (I’m not sure that was how they phrased it in the press-release, Surge). It is a brilliant time to try Riesling or get back on the horse if you’ve fallen off. Here is my hot wine recommendation this week, plus a couple of others I love too and some much-needed crustacean-based whimsy…
Three Wine Men Newsletter, 19th June 2020
We were determined to make the best of it at home and were led by the crazy sunshine in April and May. I hope you were able to too. We had friends in city centres with mini paddling pools in the living room. Windows wide. Inflatable palm trees. Pina Coladas. Reggae Spotify playlists. You get the picture. I’m so proud of them.
We are lucky to have a little garden and it was there that I made the two key discoveries that I’m going to let you in on, in the hope June and July turn out the same. Neither is revolutionary but they brought a lot of joy.
The first; our local butcher Holmansbridge Farm started knocking out deliveries of pre-marinated BBQ pork ribs that put my own efforts to shame. You’ll have something similarly brilliant near you. We hit those hard and regular for early evening dinners with little Bea. Ribs on the barbecue (oven more than great too). Beer in hand. Couscous with some roasted Mediterranean veg. A bit of chopping veg and roasting it and a boiled kettle for the couscous and that’s the whole prep. Served from one big bowl. Eaten with hands. Every one of us had a ball. We mucked around while it did it’s thing. I’ll remember them as some of the best recent days and do it again soon.
The second; Majestic’s Definition Rioja Reserva 2013...
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