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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Resurging French wine sales in the UK are helpful in jogging the memory of some lesser-known appellations, Joanna Simon believes. Forget Bordeaux and think more to the south and east, she says, with Madiran, Ctes de Saint-Mont, Cahors, Gaillac and Fronton all names to look out for. The 2004 Cahors, Le Petit Clos Triguedina (7.99, Waitrose) has "classic blackberry and graphite flavours with fine tannins" while the 2005 Madiran Rserve des Tuguets (4.99, Tesco) features for its "herb and wood-smoke flavours".

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

Pinot Noir is one of the few exceptions to the widely held truism that the best value wines cost between 6 and 9, Victoria Moore feels. This is not because "a 5 bottle of Pinot Noir can't be good", she hastens to add, more that by moving to the 10 mark "you begin to find wines that start to get it". Moore says it is at this point when "suddenly, the fairy dust comes out, the light goes on, some kind of magic sparkle arrives that simply wasn't there before". The Guardian critic says: "Either you're prepared to pay it and get it or you're not." If you fall into the former bracket, she suggests the 2005 Pinot Noir Martinborough Vineyard (22, Harrods) or the 2005 Pinot Noir Cte de Beaune (92 for six bottles, Armit).

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jane MacQuitty says tasting pink wines in the run-up to summer is no longer the struggle it once was. "My pink wine tasting success rate this summer was far higher than that achieved for either whites or reds," she explains. Among her favourites are the 2007 Las Falleras Ros (3.79, M&S) "with its pleasant, grapey fruit" and the 2007 Gran Tesoro Garnacha Ros (3.19, Tesco). If you fancy trading up, MacQuitty recommends you try the "rich, raspberry-stashed" 2007 Chteau d'Aqueria Tavel Ros (Majestic, 9.99).

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Tasting notes are not what they used to be, according to Tim Atkin MW. This thought crossed his mind when skimming the cellar notebook of 19th century wine writer Thomas George Shaw whose one-word scribblings mean he "wouldn't last five minutes in today's wine world". Atkin admits a "lack of space means that I can't write a small essay on each bottle" and he "can only give you a (necessarily subjective) snapshot of its flavours". It is for this reason that the he applauds the upcoming changes to Sainsbury's own-label range, which will use colour coding to give the consumer a fuller picture. His pick of the Taste the Difference (TTD) range, all available at Sainsbury's, includes the 2006 Gewrtztraminer Alsace (4.99), the "lively" 2006 Chianti Classico Cecchi (7.99) and the "fruitcakey, full bodied" 2006 Amarone Cantina Valpaneta.

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Last week Tim Atkin MW spent 500 (of his own money, he assures us) to attend a very special tasting of Cte Rtie. Emphasising he is "not someone who has money to throw away" and has never "flashed my own credit card so wantonly", Atkin admits this was something of a special occasion. The tasting - organised by Christie's Wine Department - gave the Observer critic a chance to select 20 samples from the "greatest ever" vintage of 1999. He adds the "myth" that the Syrah/Viognier blend is typical of Cte Rtie has caught on in other parts of the world, especially Australia. There are some great opportunities that have sprung from this folklore, particularly if you are looking to spend in the 30 bracket. He recommends the 2005 Shiraz/Viognier Yering Station (9.99, Sainsbury's) and the "intense yet balanced 2004" Cte Rtie Domaine Jamet (34.90, Bibendum).

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

"Alfresco wine doesn't have to be restricted to cheep and cheerful reds," reasons Jamie Goode. With the BBQ season underway, the Express writer has chosen a number of "versatile wines" which will "stand up to the strong flavours of grilled meat and fish". He selects the 2005 Malbec Landelia (8.49, Virgin Wines) as this Argentine grape "is the perfect match for barbecued steak". Goode also highlights the "classy" 2005 Mont Tauch L'Exception Fitou (10.99, Majestic), a blend of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Tim Atkin is mulling over the results of a recent wine consumer research survey published by Constellation and he is not overly impressed. The results revealed a "deep lacunae of ignorance" with only 21% of the 1,000-plus interviewees knowing that Chablis is a wine region. His disdain is apparent: "If a monkey had answered the questions by ticking the same box every time, he would have scored better than 60% of the interviewees." Atkin was particularly surprised only a third of respondents knew of Rioja, which he feels is "one of the most recognisable wine names on the planet". On the subject of Spain, he highlights the 2006 Fransola, Torres (13.99, Handford Wines) and the 2005 Albario Castro Martin Family Reserve (10.45, Bibendum), which should be drunk "young".

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Italy is meant to feature prominently at this year's London International Wine Fair so it is interesting to see Jancis Robinson MW covering this topic in her weekly column. Italy's time-honoured reds are not the discussion point, however, and it is "the dramatically improved whites" on which she focuses. Prices tend to vary enormously, Robinson adds, from the 2007 Fiano, IGT Sicilia (5.99, Tesco) to the 2005 Soave Leonildo Pieropan (24, Jeroboams). The best-buy award goes to the 2006 Pinot Grigio Necotium (7.95, Berry Bros).

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

British wine drinkers, tired of "identikit new-world bottles" have rekindled their enthusiasm for French wines, claims Joanna Simon, with French wine imports rising by 4% in 2007. Not only has quality improved, but the French are finally starting to get their act together on the marketing front, something they used to dismiss - to their cost.
Simon recommends the 2007 Apremont de Savoie, Domaine des Rocailles (5.99, Waitrose), the 2005 Chignin Bergeron (12.75, Vine Trail), which she describes as "outstanding, rich and honeyed", and the 2002 Arbois, Cuvee des Geologues, a rare red Jura from trousseau which Simon likens to a good Burgundy (12.35, Les Caves de Pyrene).

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

Victoria Moore is championing Cava this week, despite the sneers of one of her friends and her admission that she has been "scorchingly rude" about the drink in the past. She admits if you are looking for a Wagner-esque "cerebral" experience then Cava may not be the best choice but otherwise "there's a lot to be said for trading down to trade up". Moore suggests trying the Codorniu Reserva Raventos (8.99, Majestic), which is "an ample, easy drink, with none of the nitpicking, dirty-edged vacuity that too often characterises Cava".

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

"For once the dry white wines of Bordeaux take precedence over the reds," says Jane MacQuitty. This is no mean feat, she adds, given these wines only represent a tenth of the region's production and "command little attention or market value". Ironically, the reason for the resurgence of Bordeaux's 2007 whites is exactly the same factor that "scuppered" the reds - a cold, wet summer. We should "start saving now", warns MacQuitty, as "prices for 2007 Bordeaux are unlikely to fall to a level where many British drinkers will want to buy them at this early, en primeur stage".

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Whatever the tasting, you are guaranteed to get at least one person who will register their dislike for oaky whites, says Joanna Simon. The problem is not the oak per se, she adds, but the way it is harnessed. "It's not the oak they dislike, but heavy-handed use of it, often in the form of cheap oak chipsinstead of expensive new oak barrels containing wine". Simon sympathises whether you dislike oak or not and says the "one grape you can rely on if you want to avoid oaky wine is Riesling". In this vein, she recommends the 2007 Riesling Spy Valley (9.99, Bibendum).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

One of the most exciting aspects of her job is discovering new wine regions, says Jancis Robinson, and these are not necessarily in far flung corners of the globe; nor are they new in the strictest sense of the word. On a recent tasting trip to Sicily, she witnessed the launch of a new-old wine region on the slopes of Mount Etna. While viticulture is nothing new on Etna, it is only recently that particularly mineral influenced wines grown on Etna's slopes have begun a renaissance in their own right. This "new wave" of Etna wine dates back to 2001 when two wine growers, Belgian Frank Cornelissen and Italian Andrea Franchetti independently identified something special about these volcanically inspired wines and began to make wine from them. Now, the number of outsiders involved with Etna wine production is growing every year. The dominant grape is Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio.

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Tim Atkin MW says that single grape wines have been dismissed by French snobbery in the past but this is all set to change. One Bordeaux winemaker recently posed the Observer critic the "snooty" question why consume junk when a three-course meal is on offer?'. Atkin remains headstrong though saying "there's nothing remotely wrong with varietal wines per se". His recommendations in this category tie in neatly with his recent judging for the fifth edition of the Vins de Pays Top 100, which rewards the best single grape wines around. The 2007 Vin de Pays des Ctes de Gascogne Fleur de Givre Florenbelle (4.99, everywine.co.uk) is a sweet wine made from Gros Manseng. He also flags up the "intense, minerally, white-pepper-scented 2007 Grenache Blanc, Vin de Pays d'Oc (5.49, Marks & Spencer).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

The number of British-owned French vineyards "must now be well into four figures," says Jancis Robinson MW. And given the lack of involvement of Alistair Darling in the country's taxation matters, she says "it is hardly surprising then that a substantial proportion of the hundreds of thousands of them who own French property has been tempted by the apparently bucolic life of a vigneron".

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Bordeaux is the talking point this week. Joanna Simon says the proprietors of the main chteaux "are agonising over what to charge - or what they can get away with - for their most recent vintage, 2007". However, the vintage is "mediocre" at best and for those who would prefer not to buy en primeur, "there's plenty of affordable ready-for-drinking Bordeaux". She highlights the 2005 Haut-Mdoc Chteau d'Arcins (13.50, Nicolas) with its "supple tannins" and the 2005 Haut-Mdoc Chteau Barreyres (8.99, Sainsbury's) which is "young and chunky, but already enjoyable, and should last five years".

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Gordon Brown's upcoming budget will bid a stern farewell to 2.99 a bottle wine, Jane MacQuitty laments. "Getting used to paying more for the bottles you'd crack open mid-week without ceremony will be hard," so she suggests stockpiling such bottles ahead of next month's announcement. Tesco's 2007 Argento Shiraz at 2.99 is good for its "fat, supple, spicy" flavours while the 2006 Muscadet La Rgate (Sainsbury's, 2.99) proves to be "delicious, light and lemony".

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The Sunday Telegraph

Published:  23 July, 2008

Brits love nothing more than wiling away the hours talking about the weather and Susy Atkins is no different, although her column this week gives the subject an important vinous spin. "It is just plain wrong to drink heavy, blockbuster reds at this time of year," she says. We should curtail drinking big reds to "winter celebrations" and instead opt for "soft, juicy, smooth reds" in the early summer. Pinot Noir is an obvious choice, Atkins continues, citing the 2005 Pinot Noir Martinborough Vineyards (19.95, Harrods) for its "super-smooth texture and ripe, plush red-berry fruit with a subtle hint of chocolate".

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

As the sun shone briefly across the UK this Bank Holiday past, it seems quite fitting that Anthony Rose covered the celebratory tipple that is Champagne. "With demand outpacing supply, it's hardly surprising that its famous houses are not shy when it comes to charging," he says. The "toasty, elegant" Ayala Ros NV Champagne (26.99, M&S) is worth investigating as is Pol Roger Pure Brut (32.99, Harvey Nichols) with "its stylish look, natural and tantalisingly zesty flavours". One Champagne Rose admits he sadly did not get to try is the Krug Clos d'Ambonnay, which will retail around the 2,000 mark.

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jancis Robinson MW has been at a convention for the top winemakers and critics in the Andalusian town of Ronda. Irrigation was among the hot debate topics as was the impact critics have on wine producers. On the latter subject, Robinson admits the comment of the day came from the Andalucian sister of energetic US importer Jorge Ordoez who said, "although they don't want to admit it, there isn't a wine producer I know who doesn't anxiously scan what the critics write".

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