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Wines in the Press, October 17-18

Published:  20 October, 2009


What the wine critics had to say in last weekend's newspapers

OBSERVER

Tim Atkin MW does his level best to deter wannabee vineyard owners from realising their dream of vineyard ownership. While he concedes that it is a "seductive" notion, he claims the reality is "a good deal less romantic". Having a good harvest is just the start of things. "Making wine is the comparatively easy bit," he asserts. "Finding someone to drink it is much much tougher."

 

But if you're still determined to go ahead, he advises budding winemakers to visit a few vineyards, and not necessarily overseas. "Believe me, if you can make wine in England you can do it anywhere." Then, sign up for a winemaking course, rent cellar space and equipment and buy grapes as opposed to owning vines, ideally in an area where growers are keen to offload their crop.

 

"Make half decent wine at a fair price and you have a chance of success," he says. Atkin admits to toying with the idea himself, but declares himself a critic at heart, rather than a winemaker.

 

He recommends the 2007 Bouchard Vin de Pays de l'Aude Pinot Noir (£6.08, Asda), and the "spicy, robust" 2007 Domaine Les Yeuses Les Epices Syrah, Vin de Pays d'Oc. (£6.99 each for two, Majestic).

SUNDAY TIMES
Bob Tyrer mulls over the difficulty of matching wine with chocolate - and the pleasure in getting it right. "I didn't realize just how much magic the right wine and chocolate can bring out in each other," he muses.

 

After a trip to Argentina he recommends Argentinean Malbec as one of the grapes best suited to drinking with chocolate. "Chocolate seems to combine with ripe New World tannins, while the acid in the wine and the fruit in the chocolate play all sorts of magic with the taste buds," he enthuses.

 

He likes Michel Torino Don David (£12.95, Cavas de Gaucho), which he says is "fantastic with strawberry and balsamic vinegar in white chocolate ganache", while, the 2006 Maury Els Pyreneus, (£10.75, Bibendum), a heavy, sweet red "flies to unimagined heights with a little chilli and lime chocolate".

 

FINANCIAL TIMES

Following a recent blind tasting, Jancis Robinson MW is rather disappointed by the 2002 vintage of red Bordeaux, describing them as "ungenerous, with more acidity than average, and in some, but not all, cases some pretty austere tannins".

 

While no wine really dazzled, the St Emilions were the most varied, while of those wines from the Graves, those from the Pessac-Leognan appellation, Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere was particularly popular amongst the tasters for its "unusual succulence". However, Robinson preferred De Fieuzal, which she describes as "another over-performer" from this appellation and vintage, and very much better value. And with prices for this vintage being the most affordable this century, this could be the time to splash out.

 

Robinson says that a handful of wines stood out from the pack as being excellent buys, offering particular value for money. She recommends the Chateau Bernadotte which can be picked up for 7.8 Euros in France and for £12.95 from the Fine Wine Company of Edinburgh. However, she warns that Chateau Fournas-Bernadotte is the second wine of Chateau Bernadotte, and some retailers may confuse the two. "There are certainly bargains to be had from the 2002 vintage, even if there are few heart-stopping thrills," she sums up.

 

THE INDEPENDENT

After a recent tasting of wines from boutique wineries, a first for the trade, Anthony Rose enthuses about their ability to offer small quantities of excellent wines that the big boys just won't touch. And with the increasing efficiency of the internet, it's often just as convenient to buy from these small wineries as from independent wine merchants, he says.

 

He commends SWIG Wines (swig.co.uk), who used the event to showcase growers from both Europe and the new world. Their Yabby Lake Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula at £14.50, was matched by an "exotic" Yabby Lake Chardonnay (£21). Rose was also impressed by Colosanti, a small wine merchant which imports distinctive Italian wines. He particularly admired a "polished, beautifully oaked modern dark cherry and damson-fruity barbera" the 2005 Tenuta Olim Bauda Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza (£16.25), and from Le Marche, the "excellent" 2005 Piantate Lunghe Conero DOCG Rossini, at £20.65, "an ultra-stylish red made from the montepulicano grape in Ancona's Monte Conero vineyards".

 

DAILY MAIL
How best to store wine when most homes nowadays don't have cellars is what's concerning Olly Smith this week. While wine is increasingly made for immediate consumption, there are some bottles which are nice to lay down. Smith says the key to storage is maintaining a consistent temperature, ideally around 11C. Attics are useless - too hot in summer, too cold in winter, and avoid direct sunlight.


While you could invest in a wine fridge, wines generally just need to be laid on their side somewhere cool and dark. Alternatively, you could have someone store the wine on your behalf. Smith recommends Berry Bros and Rudd's service, which starts at £10.80 a case.

 

Wines he suggests which are worth laying down include the 2006 Villa Maria Reserve Merlot Gimblett Gravells, (£17, Waitrose), which is "layered and multi-dimensional with rich fruit", and the 2008 Pechstein Riesling, (£25, Leathwaites), which Smith declares a "top tipple that already has plenty of fresh lime zing."

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Drinks industry attacks 90,000 deaths claim

Published:  19 October, 2009


The drinks industry has slammed health officials' claims that 90,000 people will die from alcohol-related diseases in the next 10 years.

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Government climbdown on binge drinking measures

Published:  19 October, 2009

By Shirley Kumar

The government has quietly dropped proposals to give local councils "discretionary" powers to shut down bars in areas blighted by binge drinking.  

 

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UK drinking levels fall again

Published:  19 October, 2009

UK alcohol consumption is falling at the fastest rate for more than 60 years according to HM Revenue & Customs data released by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

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Freeze on VAT promises shadow minister

Published:  19 October, 2009

Tobias Ellwood MP, the shadow minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has promised a a six month freeze on VAT for struggling pubs and other small businesses if the Conservatives win the next election.

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Top 100 restaurants named

Published:  14 October, 2009

The UK's top 100 restaurants have been named as part of the National Restaurant Awards run by Harpers Wine & Spirit's sister title, Restaurant Magazine.

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Diageo sales slump by 6%

Published:  14 October, 2009

Diageo has given more bad news to its investors, revealing a 6% slump in underlying sales in the last quarter.

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Diageo sales slump by 6%

Published:  14 October, 2009

Diageo has given more bad news to its investors, revealing a 6% slump in underlying sales in the last quarter.

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Wines in the press, October 10-11, 2009

Published:  14 October, 2009

This week's round up of what the newspaper wine critics have had to say: 

 

The Guardian

Victoria Moore says customers in supermarkets say they buy wine there because specialist shops are too expensive and they feel out of their league. 

 

But, says Moore, she came across "such a good collection of lower-priced wines at a recent tasting thrown by the Bunch".

 

She adds: "Granted, independents can't compete on screechingly cheap £3 and £4 bottles, but the tasting showed there are great riches to be had if you're spending a couple of pounds more."
Her recommendations are Cruz de Piedra Garnacha 2007, Calatayud, Spain (£5.99, Adnams) and Rayun Carmenère 2008, Rapel Valley, Chile (£5.99, Tanners),

The Times

Jane MacQuitty says not so long ago that Greek wines "were just about downable on holiday, but back home, forget it".

 

She adds that a decade or so ago Oddbins and others promoted Greece as the next big thing, "but few swallowed the hot, quirky, aggressive flavours of the country's wines".
Since then, MacQuitty says its new generation of oenology-trained winemakers have moved mountains and standards have risen. She recommends Santorini White 2008 (£9.99, Waitrose).

The Financial Times

Last week Jancis Robinson MW found herself at a wine trade forum held in London to discuss the trend toward lower-alcohol wines.

 

She explains how US winemaker David Stevens, a partner at TFC Wines & Spirits, a company specialising in producing reduced-alcohol wines, took the audience through different technological ways in which the alcohol levels in wines can be lowered.

 

But, as Dan Jago, Tesco's wine supremo, pointed out, there is natural resistance among consumers to what are perceived as "Frankenstein wines" yielded by this sort of manipulation. Robinson says it seems as though 12%-12.5% is a magic threshold.

 

The Daily Telegraph

 

Jonathan Ray is asking if beer is the new wine? He says: "It's the weirdest thing. Pubs are shutting all over the place - yet sales of quality beers are on the up."

 

Ray says his "new favourite local brewer", Hepworth & Co in Horsham, is brewing around the clock in order to keep up with demand and adds, sales are soaring, up 18% on last year, according to the company's head brewer Andy Hepworth.

 

"We concentrate on making beer that a few people rave about, rather than beer that a lot of people don't object to," Hepworth says. "This seems to strike a chord with our customers, along with the fact that we source everything as locally as possible. Our barley and water are local and our hops come from Christopher Daws's farm at Bodiam in East Sussex. In the current climate, people like that."

 

The Observer

Tim Atkin MW is comparing Laithwaites to Dan Brown: "Loved by the general public, but dismissed as a bit of a joke by us critics." He adds in parallel that the bestselling author published his follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, while Laithwaites held its first press tasting for more than a decade.

 

"To be fair to Laithwaites, it has always sold some good wines, especially from France and Spain. The problem was the prices, which tended to be £1-£2 higher than everyone else's," he says.

 

He says he's tasted the new range twice this year and has "been impressed by what the team of buyers has sourced from around the world. Prices are cheaper and quality is generally good to very good".

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Court victory for former Christie's wine chief

Published:  13 October, 2009

The former head of Christie's wine department has won a libel action against the publishers of the controversial book The Billionaire's Vinegar.

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New fine wine warehouse opens

Published:  12 October, 2009

A new underground fine wine storage facility has opened near London on the site of a former wartime air raid shelter.

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Wines in the press -October 9-11

Published:  12 October, 2009

The Guardian

Victoria Moore says customers she has spoken to in supermarkets say they buy wine there because specialist shops are too expensive and they feel out of their league.

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Edrington Group launches Black Grouse in India

Published:  09 October, 2009

The Edrington Group has launched its premium brand Black Grouse into the growing Indian spirits market.

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Penderyn named one of the best whiskies in the world

Published:  09 October, 2009

Welsh single malt whisky Penderyn, has been named one of the best whiskies in the world.

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C&C profits drop but Magners turns corner

Published:  08 October, 2009

Magners owner C&C Group saw profits decline in the six months to Aug 31 in the face of an increasingly cluttered cider market and trade destocking in spirits.

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Tory government to introduce new taxes on alcohol

Published:  08 October, 2009

A Tory government will increase taxes on low price alcohol and crackdown on late-night licensing to stop teenagers getting drunk "quickly and cheaply".

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Edrington Group uses algae to cut CO2 emissions

Published:  07 October, 2009

The Edrington Group's Glenturret Distillery is the first distillery to trial an oil-producing algae to help cut carbon dioxide emissions.

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Threshers acting chief executive resigns

Published:  06 October, 2009

First Quench Retailing's acting chief executive and financial director Martin Healy has resigned.

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Wines in the press October 2-4

Published:  06 October, 2009

The Guardian

Victoria Moore took two bottles and used them as a starting point for dinner, marshalling the food round the wine.

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Speyside Whisky Festival brings £1million to area

Published:  05 October, 2009

A record number of international visitors attended the Speyside Whisky Festival, helping to raise almost £1million for the area's economy.

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