Simon in Weingut Tinhof's vineyards, above Kleinhoflein, Eisenstadt, Burgenland, Austria (Photo - Elisabeth Gstarz)With apologies for the unusually narcissistic post, here is an interview I did for the Circle of Wine Writers quarterly magazine. I’m publishing it here in case people find it interesting to know a bit more about who’s behind The Morning Claret.

Thanks to Wink Lorch who wrote the introduction, conducted the interview and allowed me to reproduce the content here.

WL: Simon has been a member of CWW for less than two years, but being not a person to sit on the sidelines he is already a committee member and the circle’s webmaster. English, but currently based in Amsterdam, he lives a double life with an IT job that pays a few more bills than his wine writing work does, I imagine.

As most who have started to write about wine within the past decade, Simon began writing about wine online, with his own blog that he started in 2011 when he was living in London. Within a couple of years he was writing for and and was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Emerging Wine Writer of the Year 2013. He now writes in print too, for Decanter.

Simon has embraced the world of organic and natural wines, but is pragmatic enough not to restrict his studies and explorations to these categories. Like many of us, he seeks out the obscure by preference, especially when it comes to grape varieties.



WL: As a fairly new member of CWW, what attracted you to join and to stand for the committee so soon?

In both cases, I was asked, but it wasn’t difficult to decide. The CWW has a strong, prestigious name worldwide. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with that?

When you first started writing about wine, what surprised you most about the world of wine writing?

The openness and friendliness of fellow writers, journalists and bloggers. As a relative newcomer (I’ve been writing seriously for just 3 years) I expected it would be much harder to “break in” to the scene and convince people that I was serious.

Who in the wine world [wine producer, wine trader, wine writer?] has taught you most about wine?

My wine producing friends in Burgenland, Austria (where I lived for a year) really brought me down to earth. I saw the reality of farming, hard work and long hours. The topics of conversation were not Parker points or whether to use French or American oak – rather how bad the next hailstorm would be and whether the police were going to crack down on immigrant labour for the harvest.

The majority of producers make and sell a commodity, and care much more about what their customers want than what someone writes in Decanter or the Wine Advocate.

What makes you most angry at wine trade/press tastings?

Producers or importers who prejudge whether you are important enough to warrant their full attention.

What wine region [or grape variety] is most overrated in your view?


What is the food and wine match you keep coming back to when eating/drinking at home?

Mature white wines (often quite humble ones with little or no oak) are incredibly versatile – the added body and complexity allows them to pair with meat, spicy and Asian dishes (which I cook and eat a lot).

What’s the wine trend on the street that many of us might have missed?

The rise in popularity, awareness and availability of “orange wines” – white wines made with extended skin contact if you will. We’re starting to see separate “orange wine” sections on restaurant lists.

Where in the wine world that you have not yet visited would you drop everything to travel to given the invitation?


If you own a crystal ball, what’s the clearest thing you can see happening in the wine world in 5 [or ten] years?

UK Supermarkets will give up selling wine when duty hits £5 a bottle, and St. Emilion will be re-categorised as fortified when they stop being able to produce anything below 15% alcohol.

What surprising fact about you are you prepared to share?

I used to DJ at warehouse raves and even released a few records. Now I get my creative kicks from writing, and a better night’s sleep into the bargain.

What question would you like to answer that I haven’t asked you? And can we have the answer too, please!

“Why is your blog called The Morning Claret, when you almost never write about Bordeaux?”

I wrote the very first post for a competition run by Fine & Rare Wines. You were supposed to write about a Bordeaux wine (which was my main love at that time), to win a trip to Bordeaux during En Primeur week. I was playing around with the presentation, and came up with the idea of a fake newspaper title. It looked good online, but a blog with only one entry? That was just silly, so I continued to write about whatever grabbed my attention at the time.