Wine dribbles & scribbles

Since moving to South America in 2009, Amanda has specialised in wine journalism covering mainly Chile and Argentina where she enjoys regularly walking the vineyards and picking at rocks in clay pits with agronomists and winemakers. A firm believer in taking the time to visit a vine before tasting its wine, she’s visited most of the wine regions in both countries – the well-known, and lesser-known ones.

Amanda writes features, wine news, tasting notes, interviews and general correspondence on a regular basis for: Decanter, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine, Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine, The Drinks Business, Somm Journal, Wine-Searcher, The Grape Collective, Wines of Chile and Descorchados. She is a Great Wine Capitals Blogger, winner of the Born Digital Wine Awards, and finalist for Millesima Wine & Food Writer and Young Wine Writer of the Year. She is currently completing her WSET Diploma and is creator of 80 Harvests and The Squeeze Magazine.

The most up-to-date posts will be at the top of my blog stream, but if you want to get click happy – here are a few highlights:

Decanter Uruguay featureUruguay: More than just Tannat
A vast array of soils and terroirs gives this diminutive but plucky nation the tools it needs to forge a strong identity of its own, says Amanda Barnes. And it’s the growing reputation of Uruguay’s white wines that’s grabbing the attention…
Decanter October 2016

 

Sleepless nights, thousands of pounds invested in rare bottles, and zero social life are common elements of preparation for the World’s Best Sommelier Competition…

Taking Chile to new heights: Vineyards at altitude

Elqui, copyright Amanda BarnesChile has long been overshadowed by neighbouring Argentina when it comes to high-altitude wines. Argentina claims the highest vineyard in the world at 3111m above sea level (although hotly contested by a dozen producers in Bolivia with vineyards scraping the 3000+ mark). While Chile equally shares the lofty heights of the Andes mountains all along its tall, thin spine, the country’s vineyards have been on decidedly lower ground. Until now…

Drinks Business Natural wine

Back to the Future: The Natural Wine Movement in Chile

Natural wine from Chile is flourishing, but far from it being a hip new trend, some winemakers never really departed from the hands-off approach that has been practised by their family wineries for centuries, writes Amanda Barnes.

 

10 Winemakers to Watch in Argentina

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 18.58.48Argentina has long been known for its lush, ripe Malbec, and there’s no doubt that those wines are still in full swing. However there is a tide of change in the style of not just Malbec, and the new generation of winemakers are at the helm of this emerging direction. Moving away from the continental climate of the flat lands, winemakers and agronomists are seeking higher altitude micro climates in the Andes and new varieties are surfacing (including a new wave of whites). Here are some of the winemakers that are blazing a new trail in Argentina…

 

Decanter harvest

Rain means Chile 2016 vintage is ‘more like Bordeaux’

With wine regions spanning over 1000km, the Chile 2016 vintage was always going to have regional variation.But, most areas experienced a cooler and wetter year, with some reporting high humidity. This resulted in lighter wines and a 20% drop in production versus 2015.

 

Taming Torrontes

Views_from_Pea_Veyrat_Durbex_smallWhen wine lovers think of Argentina, it’s usually the malbec grape that springs to mind. But that could be set to change, as producers step up their promotion of the country’s lesser-known white wine, torrontes. The highly aromatic grape variety is a chameleon, and its hard-to-pin down character explains why locals call it “the liar.” Its heady aromas exude lychee, rose petals, stone fruits, jasmine and spice – tricking drinkers into thinking the wines will be sweet. The palate, however, is unexpectedly dry, with a tendency towards bitterness…

 

Interview with Robert Kamen, Kamen Estate (Sonoma, USA)
Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 18.56.05What do you think of critics? I fucking hate critics. I am in the movie business and the wine business … Who are these people to judge what I’m doing? When I am emperor, the first people that get hanged are lawyers and critics. Would you ever write your own wine notes? I think wine notes are bullshit. The wine changes completely over the course of dinner…

 

South Africa Harvest Report

vineyards-around-paarl-south-africa-10005235So, how was the 2015 harvest in South Africa? “Like a rat up a drainpipe being pursued by a Cape cobra,” was the analysis of Fledge & Company’s Leon Coetzee. “It was an incredibly early harvest. Less than average winter rainfall, scant spring rains, good heat and a few real hot spells meant that you had to be in the vineyards even more than usual and have growers who know their vines really well, as well as not getting too spooked too early,” Coetzee commented in general about the 18 sites around the Cape that Fledge vinifies. Speed was of the essence for producers this year, with the harvest running between a week and a month early in places. The early and dry growing season combined with a handful of heat waves (including the hottest day on record for more than a century) led to one of the earliest harvests on the books in South Africa…

 

Food & Other Morsels

It was a love of food that first led Amanda to the holy grail that is wine. A fond cook, and a fonder eater, Amanda writes foodie pieces for numerous publications, often involving wine pairings.

Empanada & Wine Pairing

Empanadas_clay_oven_amandaIf there’s one dish that you’ll find in every country in South America, it’s the mighty empanada. It may be fluffy and moist, or crisp and crunchy, bite sized or head sized, baked or fried… whatever texture and filling variation comes your way, these pockets of pastry are a perfect, unpretentious appetizer that pair wonderfully with the region’s wines…

 

10 Surprising Wine Pairings: The Guardian May 2017

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 11.29.15Popcorn and champagne
This Lady and the Tramp-style pairing might seem strange, but the toasty, buttery goodness of lightly salted popcorn with a well-aged champagne is pure delight. Add truffle butter to pimp your popcorn.

Macaroni cheese and chardonnay
Macaroni cheese is a child’s proud favourite, and an adult’s guilty pleasure. Ramp up the guilt by pairing your mac and cheese with the smooth, buttery Cono Sur Bicicleta chardonnay.

 

Mapping out the Gastronomy of Chile

AMANDA Fisherman's StewThere aren’t many places that can boast the prodigious geographical diversity of Chile: deep forests buffeted by creeping glaciers; sun cracked deserts and white washed salt flats; snowcapped mountains, smoking volcanoes and the dizzying heights of the Andes; fertile valleys with rolling hillsides; and an enviable expanse of Pacific coast spanning 29° of latitude. The heart of Chilean wine and gastronomy reflects this topographical potpourri and any glimpse into Chilean cuisine reveals an encyclopedia of endemic ingredients…

Sicily: A rummage through God’s larder

antipastiSome people call Sicily ‘God’s kitchen’ and its not hard to see why. A bountiful coast filled with sea creatures coming from the Mediterranean Sea and coast of Africa; an agriculturally rich land with sunny climes with cool coastal areas as well as sub tropical heat; and a history of immigration and culinary influences from Greece, Africa and the Arab world… Sicily is bound to have good food…

Perfect Pairings for Thanksgiving

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 11.15.22

Picking a wine for Thanksgiving is no easy feat. One of the most anticipated events of the year, you’ve got a long day of drinking and eating ahead, a large family to please, and the inevitable competition coming from beer drinkers — this is a tough holiday for the noble bottle of wine! Hit it right though, and you’ll get everyone in the wine mood for the holiday season.

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