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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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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

Easter weekend inevitably means chocolate and wine matching have to be mentioned somewhere. Unsurprisingly, chocolate - particularly milk chocolate - is given a hard time for its wine pairing ability. Anthony Rose manages to find a few gems among the pack such as Buller's Rutherglen Muscat (8.99, Majestic), which is transformed by a block of Lindt Excellence Chili. For a more traditional pairing - cheese and wine - Patricia Atkinson's 2003 Clos d'Yvigne Saussignac (21, 50cl, Justerini & Brooks) is a treat with a creamy blue Saint Aguer, a firm Fourme d'Ambert, or goat's cheese Harbourne Blue. Makes you hungry just thinking about it.

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

France is on the agenda for Jane MacQuitty. "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a single prince among southern French wines," she says. "The truth is," MacQuitty continues "there are more exciting, cheaper, terroir-led wines from other sources" - a contributing factor to the 10% drop in UK sales of Languedoc-Roussillon last year. Thankfully, the Times critic has selflessly waded through said frogs to find her prince. She recommends the 2004 Rousillon Tautavel Rserve (7.99, Waitrose) and also throws in a mention for the 2006 Domaine de Felines Picpoul de Pinet (6.49, Waitrose).

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

"Some sweet wines are so good that it's almost worth whipping up a pudding just for an excuse to serve them," Jamie Goode reveals. The "expensive but gorgeous" 2000 Tokaji Aszu (12.25, Tesco) from Hungary is "a truly sensuous wine with real class". He also highlights the Moscatel de Valencia NV (3.28, Asda) for its "sweet, grapey, melony" qualities and says is served best chilled with fruit-based desserts.

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The Observer

Published:  23 July, 2008

Tim Atkin MW is heading up the Les Caves de Pyrne fanclub this week. He says we may not all have heard of the Guildford-based operation but the French founder Eric Narioo is a man who believes in real wine'. "If you've ever eaten in one of the UK's top restaurants, you'll almost certainly have seen its wines on the list," Atkin clarifies. Among his current Les Caves de Pyrne favourites are the 2006 Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur L'Insolite (13.29) and the "grassy, refreshing" 2005 Friuli Carso Terrano (17.65).

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

We all give airtime to temperature-controlled storage in cellars but what about when our precious bottles are being shipped over from the country of origin. Jancis Robinson MW paints a horrifying picture of wines ruined by shippers keeping them too cold - and almost freezing them - to the point of no return en route. Even importers are portrayed as relatively relaxed about the issue, according to Robinson, hoping that by shipping outside the height of summer, they will avoid any damage. And at 2,000 for a shipment in a temperature-controlled reefer, it's unlikely that this is a cost we would be prepared to swallow for all but the most expensive wines.

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

1982 is an important year in the world of wine, says Jancis Robinson MW. It was when the modern era of Bordeaux came of age and also the year that Liz Morcom, Richard Harvey and Mark Lynton all garnered the hallowed letters MW after their names. Robinson hosted a party for the three whereby all guests had to bring a bottle of 1982. The group dined on "wood pigeon and foie gras" but Robinson says that some St John chefs handled the food, as "perish the thought we MWs had to do anything more than decant".

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

Prosecco doesn't take itself too seriously, says Jamie Goode, and as well as being "the ultimate summer quaffer" it's also "the perfect choice for alfresco weddings". Canti Prosecco Raboso Rosato NV (5.98, Asda) is "attractive, fruity and stylish" with strawberry flavours dominating while the La Gioiosa Prosecco Spumante NV (5.49, Tesco) gathers attention for its "bright fruity palate".

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The Sunday Telegraph

Published:  23 July, 2008

Susy Atkins is talking numbers and regardless of the budget she thinks "wine is still relatively good value". This is particularly true if you "shun the cheapest bottles on the shelves" and opt instead for the 6 to 8 bracket. She flags up the "generously fruity" 2007 Chenin Blanc Forrester's Back (6.99, Oddbins) and the "peachy" 2007 Viognier Cono Sur (5.99, Majestic) which pairs well with a creamy curry.

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

The popularity of New Zealand wine has not been lost on Joanna Simon. "Even before the Chancellor slapped another 14p duty on wine in last month's budget, the average price for a bottle of New Zealand wine was 6.26," she says. This is far higher than any other country and second to Australia at 4.40 and the average wine price of 4.01. Her cellar notes include the "smoky and flinty" 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Blind River (10.99, Oddbins) and the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Malborough Hills (7.49, Majestic) with its "ripe gooseberry flavours".

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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chocolate and bunnies may spring to mind when most people mention Easter but for the Sunday Times writer, her attentions turn to Champagne. "If you want to pick the best of the bunch (Champagne) for an important function, my advice is to leave a glass of each fizz out overnight," states Jane MacQuitty, adding the quality of your selections will become all to apparent the following day. In the sub 5 bracket, she recommends Cava la Rosca Brut (Waitrose, 3.99) as "surprisingly elegant". The 2002 Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gold Top Brut (Majestic, 15.99) also makes the cut. One Champagne MacQuitty urges people to avoid, is the Veuve Edouard (Somerfield, 9.99), which is a "filterpad-scented horror".

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Argentine wine industry has "stacks of potential" and its reds "are guaranteed to win drinkers," says Jane MacQuitty. "Richly coloured and tannic Malbecs" head up the reds while "aromatic, lime blossom-stacked Torrontes" fly the flag for the whites. MacQuitty was impressed by the "velvety, creosote-scented spice" of the 2005 Malbec Colome Red Label (14.49, Oddbins). She also highlights the 2005 Malbec Cantena (10.99, Waitrose) which is "sweet, fat and plumy".

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

Anthony Rose recently attended an Icons' tasting of Argentine Malbecs at a restaurant in London's 02 Arena but was not overly enamoured with the terminology. Why, he asks, does his heart so often sink when the I-word is used? "Something to do perhaps with the fact that great wines ought to be not marketing constructs but ones that earn their icon stripes over time." Ultimately Rose was not impressed: "the depressing reality was that too many wines were caricatures". Once he had discounted the "bank-busting" options, there were, thankfully, some recommendations left. The 2006 Malbec Finca Sophenia Synthesis (15.95, winehound.co.uk) is mentioned for its "smooth as silk, black cherry fruits" while the 2005 Pulenta Estate Gran Corte (17.95, BB&R) is "a poised Malbec blend".

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

Variety is the spice of life, or so Victoria Moore thinks. "This is why I am suggesting a spring clean of your vinous buying habits," she reasons. We should all abolish wines from our shopping lists if, upon sipping them, "you still feel the dim, comfort-blanket recognition of something you once loved but now fail to respond to". For broadening your drinking horizons, says Moore, try the 2007 Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch (7.49, Majestic) for its "light-sabre intensity" and the 2005 Valpolicella Ripasso (6.12, Tesco). One word of warning from the Guardian critic this week, however: avoid 2007 Bordeaux Chteau de Sours Ros (8.49, Majestic) at all costs.

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jamie Goode is urging his Express readership to spend double their normal wine purchase for the Easter weekend by tempting them with the carrot of a "huge" step up in quality. The 2006 Yalumba Organic Shiraz (Waitrose, 7.99) is "great with duck" and extols a "spicy twist and hint of meatiness". Goode also suggests a 2006 Blind River Pinot Noir (Oddbins, 17.99) for its "aromatic berry fruits and dark spiciness".

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