An Angus-raised wine maker known as ‘The Flying Scot’ features in the final part of a BBC radio series on Scottish convivial history.
In the sixth and final episode of The Complete Caledonian Imbiber which broadcasts on BBC Radio Scotland on Boxing Day, Newport-based broadcaster Billy Kay travels to Aragon and Catalonia to meet Scottish winemakers.
They include Norrel Robertson from Forfar who makes renowned Garnacha wines from grapes picked in his remote hilltop vineyards near Calatayud.
Norrel touched down with his family in Spain in 2003 and released his first wine in 2004 (Manga del Brujo)
A politics graduate from Aberdeen University he has worked in the wine industry for the last 25 years, starting in sales before moving on to buying and product development.
He is currently one of three Master of Wines living in Spain.
Billy Kay, who has a lifelong interest in wine, said: “Norrel Robertson from Forfar makes renowned Garnacha wines from grapes picked in his remote hilltop vineyards near Calatayud.
“There the scent of wild mountain thyme imparts a distinctive fresh bouquet to grapes in this cradle of the Grenache wine grape which went with the Romans to France.
“Norrel is a Master of Wine – one of only 385 in the world, so it was a pleasure to taste wines with someone with his knowledge and passion.”
The episode also features Pamela Geddes from Bridge of Allan who makes sparkling red and rosé wines in her Bodega in the Cava producing area of Penedés.
Pamela takes Billy through the hands on process which makes sparkling wine the unique product it is, with every bottle is handled at least seven times by the winemaker.
Pamela admits that she is hooked on bubbles, and loves her work.
Billy also brings the story of Scotland’s love for strong drink up to date with a visit to the farm distillery at Arbikie in Lunan Bay, Angus, which grows all of its own ingredients to make gin, vodka and malt whisky.
Iain Stirling’s family have been farmers in Scotland since the 17th century. When Iain and his two brothers sought to diversify, they were delighted to find that their farm at Arbikie had distilled malt whisky back in the 18th century. They grow their own barley, and their first batch of Arbikie malt Is slowly maturing now in cask.
But Billy was able to taste their potato vodka and Kirsty’s gin – which uses kelp, carline thistle root and blaeberries which grow between the distillery and the sea down below.
- The final episode of The Complete Caledonian Imbiber: Homage to Catalunya, Aragon and Arbikie airs on BBC Radio Scotland on Boxing Day at 1.30 pm and is repeated on January 2 at 7.30 am.