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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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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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