Review of 2022


To quote Old Blue Eyes, two-thousand twenty-two was a “very good year”. A top vintage. A 1985 Burgundy or a 1982 Bordeaux. It was an annus mirabilis that reintroduced semblances of normal life. However, one defines that in this bewildering post-pandemic world. It felt as if life sprung back and what else was there to do but push the pedal to the metal and make haste compensating for months of lockdown? In 2022, I never worked so hard. Never strung so many words together (whether they made sense or not is another matter entirely). Never felt fitter, though I’ve yet to step back onto the scale after six weeks in calorific Burgundy. It’s a whirlwind year that occasionally overwhelmed me as I juggled an insane and admittedly self-imposed workload, constant traveling, countless dinners and tastings (sympathy cards welcomed), balancing all that with being a husband/dad/mate and safeguarding an everyday life outside the realm of fermented grape juice. The aim is to reach the end of the year the same person as when it began, just a bit wiser. Every year’s a bonus. Every year is another bit of extra time. So here it is, month-by-month, plus my musical recommendations as I have done every year since 2003…

All Things 2022

January – Blighty stands on the brink of another lockdown as Omicron, last seen battling Transformers, opens the next unwanted chapter of the global pandemic. Boris temporarily halts his house party at No. 10 and keeps the country open. It instils a feeling across the nation that there is an exit door, acceptance that we must live with the virus, not try to defeat it since it will always be one mutation ahead. Hence, the traditional Burgundy tastings tentatively return, albeit for professionals and select clients. The month finishes with the latest edition of the annual Southwold tasting of decadent Bordeaux 2018s, which I am remiss at not publishing (like an unforgivable number of events mentioned in this piece), not to mention a phenomenal 1982 Bordeaux dinner in Clapham with the First Growths firing on all cylinders.

Highlight: Dinner at Hutong in the Shard to celebrate my daughter’s seventeenth, the first time we could celebrate properly in four years. Someone takes photos from Hutong’s 33rd-floor lavatories as he goes about his business. Who says men can’t multi-task? The dinner sets a marker for the year. Instead of talking about doing things, in 2022, we were going to do them.

Memorable Wines: 1993 Domaine Réné Engel Clos Vougeot, 1982 Grand-Puy-Lacoste (magnum), 1982 Talbot (magnum), 1959 Pichon-Lalande (magnum), 2008 Château de la Tour Clos Vougeot Vieilles Vignes

February – Russian troops invade Ukraine. We’re only just recovering from a pandemic, and now WW3 to worry about? Anger simmers for the rest of the year. Macron has France locked down, so I’m perturbed about when I can return. Nevertheless, the month sees a few special dinners crowned by two birthday celebrations: a raucous evening at the Harwood Arms and a night away with Mrs. M down at the excellent Parson’s Table in medieval Arundel, a reminder that some of the UK’s best restaurants reside outside London (see October).

Highlight: The aforementioned birthday dinner at the Harwood Arms. Just lots of silliness and thunderous laughter with a gaggle of fabulous bottles. What more could you want? I might have to repeat it this coming February.

Memorable Wines: 1983 Léoville Poyferré, 1981 Wynn’s Hermitage, 2010 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Tre Tine, 1971 Paul Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle

March – France opens its borders, and the passport is put to use as I commence a peripatetic spring. A week in Bordeaux spending quality time with châteaux (they appreciate a bit of TLC) culminates in an enthralling vertical at Pichon Baron assessing a treasure trove from the thirties to the sixties. Then, a fortnight in Burgundy visiting less well-known properties, filling in gaps from my 2020 barrel tastings and a week at Les Grands Jours. It doesn’t begin on a high note. Within minutes of arriving, I learn my dad has a serious illness. Fast-forward over the worry - this story has a happy ending, the indefatigable NHS sorting everything out in a jiffy, and he’s right as rain by summer.

Highlight: Driving to Brighton to meet former Smiths’ guitar legend Johnny Marr and shaking the hand of the one who invented the riff to This Charming Man. No, I still haven’t washed it.

This man is a God. Period.

Memorable Wines: 1971 Domaine Comte Armand Pommard Clos des Epeneaux 1er Cru, 2009 Domaine Georges Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Cras 1er Cru, 1955 Haut-Brion Les Carmes Haut-Brion, 1945 Pichon-Baron, 1967 Latour, 1949 Louis Latour Pommard Les Epenots 1er Cru, 2017 Matteo Correggia Roero Riserva Ròche d’Ampsèj

April – The month begins with a bacchanal at Medlar with old friends and a smorgasbord of fermented grape juice that gets the pulse racing. There’s an intriguing Durfort-Vivens dinner before spending most of the month in Bordeaux tasting the 2021s from barrel. It’s a welcome return to conducting tastings in the region instead of pallets materialising on my driveway. I screw up by revealing the previous night’s mystery vintage served at Figeac on social media, forgetting that the Manoncourts are repeating the soirée with the identical vintage the following evening. They were somewhat surprised that half the guests miraculously guessed the 1946, but at least it allows many to pretend that they are the world’s greatest blind taster. The banquet to celebrate the new winery opening at Lynch Bages is a lavish affair, Anne-Sophie Pic at the microwave cooking for the 5,000, though even she must cater to my dietary requirements. The lobster tail is delicious. I put one of the final copies of my Pomerol tome up for auction in aid of Ukraine. It fetches £2,000.

Highlight: Donning my unused tuxedo for the Académie du Vin dinner and being able to tie my bow tie rather than having to ask someone else to do it like an incompetent five-year-old schoolboy.

Memorable Wines: 1922 La Conseillante, 1946 Figeac, 1947 Smith Haut-Lafitte, 1928 Lascombes, 1967 Climens, 1995 Lafleur, 1990 Château Latour (double magnum), 2016 Bodegas Verum Cencibel Las Tinadas Organic

The second outing for my expensive tuxedo, bought just before lockdown in December 2019. Bow tie: my own handiwork.

May – First month of the hottest and driest summer in living memory: Bad for humanity but good for planning barbecues. I escort my youngest into London for a series of Japanese exams on the proviso that we check out a different restaurant each night. It’s a hoot, and she gets the top grade. Omõdeto! The madness continues on the tasting front with a trip to La Vienne for a ridiculous Rousseau vertical back to 1919, a slightly surreal tasting of Liber Pater at Annabels’ nightclub in London and an incredible Ponsot vertical at the domaine during a two-week trip to Burgundy - one week touring Mâconnais and then tasting the 2018 whites blind at Burgfest.

This month we welcome a new member to the family… Popo Chan! Our previous feathered friend Bean made his last tweet just before Xmas. Unlike Bean, within weeks, my wife has trained the budgerigar to speak…in Japanese. Honestly, I’m not joking. I feel this gives Popo a superiority complex over me, but hey, that’s something I’m used to in this family. I’m just relegated down to another place. 

Popo Chan – 私は日本語を話すことができます

Highlight: Late at night, driving back from the cinema, having watched the unexpectedly brilliant Top Gun II, I recreate Cruise’s jet-fighter acrobatics in my Nissan Qashqai. I fail to recreate the same G-force. But it was fun.

Memorable Wines: 1966 Domaine Rousseau Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze, 1919 Domaine Rousseau Chambertin, 1981 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, 2016 Figeac, 2010 Domaine Jean-François Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, 1943 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Echézeaux Grand Cru, 2010 Domaine J-L Chave Hermitage, 1964 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle, 1959 Domaine Ponsot Clos de la Roche Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru, 2020 Domaine Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuissé La Maréchaude 1er Cru, 2019 Nathalie Vigot Vosne-Romanée Village

June – The platinum jubilee coincides with an atypical dreary weekend. I proffer a magnum of one of the greatest English sparkling wines for my neighbours. They are more content to glug warm Prosecco from the local Aldi. I end up drinking it from a plastic cup myself. Anyway, long may she reign over us. I whisk my two daughters to Bordeaux as they feel cooped up in England and I won’t see them over the summer. Bit of daddy/daughter bonding. No work, no vineyards, just mooching around shops and cafés and seeing the city in a different light. It is just the tonic we need. What a wonderful city.

I train down to Magwitch country to lunch at The Sportsman, though Jay McInerney’s post-war Palmers look like dishwater and taste worse. The summer equinox is celebrated at The Waterside Inn with a friend from Hong Kong and a pre-prandial cruise down the Thames as the sky turns ablaze with Turner-like hues. One of those “Life is Good” moments. The final week is devoted to all things Chablis, falling in love with the quixotic town where the taps read “Hot”, “Cold” and “Raveneau”.

Highlight: The long walk back after dinner along the moonlit Gironde esplanade in Bordeaux on a balmy night with my daughters.

Memorable Wines: 1989 Haut-Brion, 1983 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, 2009 Domaine Coche-Dury Meursault La Perrières 1er Cru, 1978 Domaine de la Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2019 Quinta do Noval Naçional, 2010 Domaine Guffens-Heynen Pouilly-Fuissé Tris des Hauts des Vignes, 2019 Domaine Félix Richaud Irancy Merci La Foule, 2021 Domaine Droin Chablis Les Grenouilles

July – I ease off traveling. It’s been non-stop since early March. At Terminal 3, I wave a teary sayonara to my family, who will spend the summer in Tokyo, then occupy the next six weeks wining and dining like my life depends on it. I also vow to teach Popo some words in English. Show some patriotism, for God’s sake. The heat does not decelerate the writing. I make inroads into the post-COVID backlog and hand in the final manuscript to my publisher. Anyone can start a book. Finishing is the hard part.

Highlight: The Human League in Southend-on-Sea. I’m not really into nostalgia acts, so I tend to avoid them, however much I adore the band. But they’re probably better now than at their prime, Phil Oakey in magnificent voice with a tight backing band and fantastic sound system. On a balmy evening, I dance in an open field with my oldest friends clutching plastic cups of warm beer, chanting the chorus of “Don’t You Want Me.” You can’t stop aging, but that doesn’t mean you have to be old.

Memorable Wines: 1984 Château Margaux, 1961 Rinaldi Barolo, 1991 Domaine Hubert Lignier Clos de la Roche, 1998 Togni Cabernet Sauvignon, 2001 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain (magnum), a pint of warm beer

I’m not even going to explain what’s going on here.

August – The heat wave continues. Rather than twiddling my thumbs, I spend two weeks in South Africa, as I have not been since 2018. It never fails to make a profound impression, not just the wines but the people, the landscape, its spirit. Hopefully, that sentiment is translated in my report. Family returns in one piece from Japan. Popo says “Konnichi wa.” Bloody bird hasn’t learned a single word of English. I spend endless hours frantically tidying the house, ready for inspection and forget that I have barely opened the fridge. Its contents are ostensibly the same as in mid-July but moldier. “What did you eat for the entire summer?” my wife asked furiously. “Out?” I reply. The month finishes with the annual Grouse Club at Wilton’s with a raft of 1991 Guigals. It will appear as a Vinous Table soon.

Watching Say She She at Amazing Grace.

Highlight: Watching Say She She, a free gig from an upcoming band at Amazing Grace on a sweaty night in London. You can’t beat live music, especially with upcoming bands.

Memorable Wines: 1966 GS Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Porseleinberg, 2006 Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, 1978 Etienne Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Mouline, 2021 Rall Wines Syrah Ava, NV Mullineux Family Wines Olerasay No.3, 2021 Sons of Sinai Swanesang, 1943 Petrus, 2014 Domaine Arnaud Ente Meursault Clos des Ambres

September – The month begins in Burgundy blind tasting 2018 reds at the annual Burgfest tasting contemporaneous with the early picked 2022s. It affords a chance to visit vineyards thronging with pickers, navigating roads chock full with tractors and trailers heaped with fruit. At a friend’s house in Beaune, my mobile pings. To quote the Smiths, the Queen is dead. Though inevitable, it’s still a shock. One of the few constants throughout my life is no longer. We’ll celebrate her glorious reign at the following weekend’s Last Night of the Proms, where I have secured two impossible-to-get tickets until some feckless bureaucrat decides that to honour the woman that epitomised carrying on come what may - we must cancel everything. I’m a bit miffed. I venture down to The Mall to absorb history, but some pesky infants in front of me spoil my view. When one of them waves to a princess, and she waves back, I realise they’re all the Queens’ great-grandchildren. One week is spent in Bordeaux tasting 2020s from bottle. Much of the month is spent carting my eldest up and down the M1 to look at universities. I make a mental note that as much as I love the music of Manchester, it’s not a place I’d like to live, no offense to Mancunians.

Highlight: Visiting various colleges at Cambridge University’s open day. It’s like walking back through history. I’m recommending universities to my daughter not based on the standard of the degree, but how attractive the town is for a weekend away.

Memorable Wines: 1964 La Tour Figeac, 1998 Pape-Clément (magnum), 1996 Domaine Roger Denogent Pouilly-Fuissé Les Carrons Vieilles Vignes (magnum)

October – The first two weeks are spent with the family. A wedding up in deepest Lancashire for a beloved old school friend conveniently takes place a half-hour drive from a restaurant I’ve wanted to visit for aeons. Our lunch is one of the greatest I have ever eaten (rapturous Vinous Table in the works). After winning my first pub quiz in Chiswick thanks to identifying The Graham Norton Show’s theme tune/sketchy knowledge of the Boer War/the periodic table, I pack my belongings for a six-week stint in the Côte d’Or to taste over 2 million wines from barrel. The ominous “marathon” comprises over 120+ visits and barely a moment’s rest, essentially writing the report on the hop whilst constantly feeling paranoid about catching a cold/COVID. It basically pushes you to the limit, but that’s the job.

My Great South Run medal.

Highlight: Crossing the “Great South Run” finish line with the Chariots of Fire theme tune in my head. Ten miles around Portsmouth in 1 hour 45 minutes.

Memorable Wines: 2005 Thomas (Oregon) Pinot Noir, 1982 Domaine Georges Vernay Condrieu, 1985 Château L’Evangile, 2016 Sadie Family Vineyards Skerpioen, 2015 Domaine Tawse Musigny Grand Cru, 1971 Domaine de la Roche Moreau Côteaux du Layon, 2013 Domaine Philippe Colin Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, 2020 Domaine Chartron Rully Montmorin

November – Wake up-shower-get in car-choose music-taste-write-repeat. I swan around various bistros in Beaune as the migration of friends intensifies towards Hospices weekend when everyone seems to be within 200 square meters of each other.

One night I flit like a social butterfly between four tables at Maison de Colombier as another group of familiar faces enter and invites me to join. It’s mental and kind of magical. I manage to avoid catching a cold by adhering to an unbreakable rule that I must have said my prayers and be tucked up in bed by midnight, a rule that means I literally have one sip of a Montrachet before pelting back home. Of course, immediately upon returning to the UK, I succumbed to the dreaded lurgy within 48 hours. A friend informs me that a copy of my “Pomerol” tome just sold for a cool £4,000. How much of that do I get? Pah! Now I know how it feels to be a trendy Burgundy winemaker. In any case, you won’t have to wait long for the follow-up…

Highlight: The facial expression of a winemaker after a major faux pas. That’s all I will say.

Memorable Wines: (take a deep breath) 1962 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche, 1962 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Echézeaux, 1945 Domaine Henri Lamarche Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots 1er Cru, 1962 Latour, 1962 Vega Sicilia Unico (magnum), 1976 Domaine Hugel Riesling Vendange Tardive, 1953 Hospices de Beaune Corton Cuvée Charlotte Dumay (jeroboam), 1953 Domaine Pierre Ponnelle Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jacques, 1978 Domaine Méo-Camuzet Corton Clos Rognets, 1975 Domaine Raveneau Chablis Montée de Tonnerre, 1993 Domaine Hubert Lamy Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, 1990 Domaine Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle (magnum), 2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti, 2009 Weingut Keller Nierstein Pattenthal (magnum), 1988 Domaine Denis Bachelet Charmes-Chambertin, 1991 Ridge Vineyards Montebello (magnum), 1974 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow, 1862 d’Olivieras Bual Madeira

December – You’d think after 40+ days in Burgundy and all the writing that results, it would be time to ease down in the run-up to the Festive Period, but no, I’m in Bordeaux for ten days to see if the 2020s are behaving. Then, I’m going to chill. Next year is going to be even more bonkers.

Memorable Wines: 1943 Pichon-Comtesse de Lalande, 1963 Naçional - Quinta do Noval, 2004 Chablis Les Clos - Domaine Raveneau, 2020 Bertineau Saint-Vincent, 2020 Grand Village, 2020 La Chenade

All Things Fermented

Bottle of the Year: 1974 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Sure, I have tasted far rarer and more expensive wines this year. However, I chose this because of its life-affirming freshness, complexity and joie-de-vivre, notwithstanding that this was a common or garden commercial wine, not even Mondavi’s Reserve, that was sold for just a few dollars. It would outclass many Bordeaux from this decade. We salute you!

Sparkling Wine of the Year: NV Marie Demets Intransigence Champagne

I instantly fell in love with this when poured in Burgundy. It comes from the Côte des Bars in the south of Aube and just ticks all the boxes without breaking the bank.

Value-For-Money Wine of the Year: 2016 Ian Naudé Chenin Blanc Old Vines

There are so many gems from the Cape that you could argue are criminally undersold. I selected this because Naudé was one of my most enjoyable encounters of the year, and he deserves recognition, not that this has ever bothered him. 

Best Tasting of the Year: Pichon-Baron 1934-1966

It’s too easy to choose the tasting with the rarest or most expensive bottles. But the most enlightening one was the travel through yesteryear at Pichon-Baron. Rather than cherry-pick great vintages, it embraced disparaged seasons and altered my perception of the Pauillac estate.

Worst Tasting of the Year

There are two that spring to mind. I won’t embarrass anybody…at least not yet.

All Things Edible

Best Meal of the Year – Wild Flor (Brighton)

As I alluded to recently, I am in the process of writing up the greatest meal of 2022. All I will say is that it wasn’t in London, and it was not in France! It was certainly multiple times more expensive than the dinner at Wild Flor. This Brighton restaurant’s dishes were simple and delicious. I found excellent service, a great vibe, a tidy wine list and the kind of place you want to return to.

Runners-Up: Lorne, Noble Rot, Noizé, Medlar, Harwood Arms (London), The Sportsman (Whitstable), The Waterside inn (Bray), L’Agistache (Volnay), Le Bistro (Bordeaux), Eike (Stellenbosch), Chef’s Warehouse (Constantia), Creation (Hemel-en-Aarde)

Worst Meal of the Year (Somewhere north of Manchester and south of the Lake District)

Staying at a very nice hotel for my friend’s wedding (see October), we booked dinner at its swanky bistro. The staff was so hapless that it was funny, you know, the old classic of the teenage waiter trying to fill your wine glass to the brim, odd flavour combinations, general calamity. It was only the following day that somebody informed me that their entire staff had walked out a week earlier, and for practically everyone, it was their first day on the job.

All Things Musical

Undoubtedly, 2022 has been one of the best years for music. People drone on about the old days, how things aren’t what they used to be, how streaming has ruined everything, and still resentful that Dylan went electric. Those people just stop listening. It’s human nature. I found it difficult to choose the best song, and I’ll probably change my mind again when you read this. The best album was the easiest to pick in years. I’ll put together a Spotify playlist for those interested and link it on the forum.

Vinyl throughout the year.

Songs of the Year: Forget Me Not/Blow My Mind – Say She She

Two killer tracks from the US/UK three-piece. Blow My Mind has a sultry tempo, fabulous vocals and an explosive bridge. It all finishes off with a nuanced psychedelic vibe. I can’t believe both cuts were left off their debut album, Prism. Error of judgment by their record company? Oh well, I was lucky enough to get one of the limited 7-inch releases that has been played to death.

Also, for your consideration, in no particular order:

Billions – Caroline Polachek – Absolute genius from an artist that I will be all over in 2023. The first three minutes are full of skittering beats and Polachek’s ethereal voice before the child choir enters for the chanted refrain second half. The video features Polachek pressing grapes and strange stemware, definitely not part of Zalto’s range. Given that the follow-up single “Sunset” is equally excellent but completely different, I have very high expectations for her sophomore album.

Free In The Knowledge – The Smile – Upon first hearing this, driving in Bordeaux, I had to stop the car. There’s a chord change at 1m 22s that stabs the heart. I’m just defenseless when Thom Yorke is in sad mode; an absolute genius, plus the fabulous string arrangement from Johnny Greenwood has a spectral beauty.

Chloe – Shygirl – Talking of fabulous string arrangements, check out this daring blend of epic, baroque strings and old-school house.

Literary Mind – Sprints – Like Lime Garden, Sprints are yet to release a debut album, but everything from this Dublin band has been A1. I wasn’t prepared for Sprints to release something as accomplished so early in their career, oddly with the momentum of Pulp in their prime.

Free Yourself – Jessie Ware – Anthemic disco anthem with a breakdown borrowed from late-80s Chicago House to a killer effect.

About Damn Time – Lizzo –Just segue the above into this Chic-inspired groove-tastic banger from the irrepressible Lizzo. Doesn’t even feature a flute solo.

This Is Why – Paramore – Reinvention ahoy, and Paramore absolutely nails it. It features a bass line I could eat. Hard but very funky. Apparently, Hayley Williams and Co. were influenced by the early Bloc Party. I have been known to dance around my garden office to this.

First Hand Arrogance – The Brontës – I received this 7-inch from the Last Night From Glasgow as a freebie with the Say She She single, and guess what…it’s brilliant. I know hardly anything about them. You heard about them here first.

Bitter – Lime Garden – This Brighton band has not put a foot wrong with their first 7-inch singles, and they keep getting better and better with this perfect slice of indie pop.

Walkin’ – Denzel Curry – Superlative rap that ingeniously samples Keith Mansfield’s The Loving Touch to create this filmic rap masterpiece.

As It Was – Harry Styles – Once upon a time, One Direction would come onto the radio airwaves, and you’d find another station. Now he’s one of pop’s most interesting artists, and you are wondering whether the album is just as good as this ubiquitous number (it is FYI).

All Up In Your Mind – Beyoncé – There are many types of Beyoncé, but my favourite is “electro-Beyoncé”. This cut from Renaissance warps her voice into a robotic staccato, and I really love how the synths gradually build in the background.

Easy On Your Own? – Alvvays – Canada’s finest stormed back with this A-grade slice of indie. They were a bit moody when they signed my record at Rough Trade, but they were all wearing face coverings, so they could have been smiling.

Oblique Fantasy – Jane Weaver – Standalone release on the hip Speedy Wünderground label showcases Weaver’s unique electro-pop.

Free Advice – Holodrum – So much energy and hooks in this floor-filler.

Herman’s House – Special Interest – Sounds like two different songs playing simultaneously, and the chaos works brilliantly. In ya’ face. Shameless. Sexy. What music should be.

Such Is Life (Take 1) - Teenage Mortgage – This came out last year. But I have to include it because the Washington duo recorded a live version, lathe-cut onto a clear 7-inch and sent it to yours truly. So it’s a limited edition of one. I must admit being shocked when I put the needle on the record, and the first words were, “This is for Neal.” All records should commence like that.

Album of the Year: Renaissance – Beyoncé

An easy choice. I’m not a Beyoncé obsessive. But this magnum opus of wall-to-wall bangers is my most-played album of 2022, and despite constant rotation, it gets better with every listen. The production is astonishing when you tune your ears into the songs' complexity, yet everything fits together like a Swiss watch. Beyoncé is in imperious form, with flawless vocals and oozing charisma, her paean to the dance floor effortlessly weaving from one genre to another in dazzling fashion. Joyous. Genius.

Also, for your consideration:

The Car – Arctic Monkeys – The only band pushing the envelope and daring their huge fanbase to follow them.

A Light For Attraction Attention – The Smile – The best Radiohead album by a band not called Radiohead

And In the Darkness, Hearts Aglow – Weyes Blood – Channelling Karen Carpenter and Judee Sill, this might be Nathalie Mering’s finest, most sumptuous album yet.

Blue Rev – Alvvays – People claim that indie is dead. They should listen to the Canadian band’s third album and think again.

Wet Leg – Wet Leg – The Isle of Wight band follow the insanely catchy Chaise Longue with an insanely good debut. Where next?

Sorrow’s Away – The Unthanks – Sibling duo Rachel and Becky Unthank’s album of updated Northumbrian folk songs and originals begins with the one-two punch of “The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry” and “The Sandgate Dandling Song.” You’re emotionally devastated but only a quarter of the way through. 

Fleeting Future – Akusmi – French film composer Pascal Bideau’s fusion of jazz, krautrock and whatever else is completely mesmerising.

Push – Gabe Gurnsey – Pulsing electro with deadpan female vocals. “Let’s push…together.” Push what? A wheelbarrow?

Tresor – Gwenno – The former Pipettes singer is furrowing a singular path of Cornish and Welsh-sung music that oddly reminds me of the Cocteau Twins.

Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You – Big Thief  - Epic double album of American folk-rock suggests there is no end of talent of Adrianne Lenker & co.

All Things Visual

Best Film – Aftersun – Charlotte Wells’s debut feature stars Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio. It details the relationship between father and daughter. I won’t say too much. Just see it.

Best TV Program – This Is Going To Hurt (BBC) – Based on Adam Kay’s best-selling book recounting his days on the frontline of the NHS, Ben Wishaw plays the anti-hero doctor. The audience roots for him because he is dedicated to saving lives, but the genius of this BBC series is that it does not flinch from portraying him as a bit of a misanthrope. As someone who does not like the sight of blood, I had to watch some scenes through splayed hands as the camera refuses to turn away from the graphic sight of childbirth, caesarean sections and body fluids you never thought existed. Yet it was compelling viewing.

© 2022, Vinous. No portion of this article may be copied, shared or re-distributed without prior consent from Vinous. Doing so is not only a violation of our copyright, but also threatens the survival of independent wine criticism.

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