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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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The Sunday Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

It's not all "doom and gloom" despite Australian wine exports dropping for the first time since 1995, says Joanna Simon. The country's value sales were up for the 12 months and the 2008 harvest looks to be healthy due to a late bout of rain in November. However, there will be no return to "rock-bottom prices" and we can expect "the tidal waves of Bogofs" to end as well. Simon recommends the 2006 Pinot Noir Yarra Valley (13.49, Tesco) with its "nutmeg aromas" and the "spicy and focused" 2005 reserve Shiraz Margaret River (6.99, Real Wine Company).

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

Asparagus can be a "murder" to match with wine, says Jamie Goode, but the trick is to opt for "rich grassy whites" which excel with the "delicious seasonal delicacy'. The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Sacred Hill Malborough (8.19, Morrisons) merits a mention for its "intense sophistication" while the 2006 Viognier Yalumba (9.99, Waitrose) has "peach and lemon" aromas. Goode also recommends a curve ball in the form of 2006 Syrah Ros Fetzer Valley (6.49, Thresher).

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

Last week Anthony Rose organised a themed wine tasting for a select group of Independent hacks at the stipulation of his magazine editor. Using the game of options - where teams of participants have to answer multiple-choice questions on the wines to remain in the tasting - was, he said, "the only way of holding the attention of a bunch of rowdy journalists". Each round Rose quizzed the teams on two bottles of wine, which were linked by factors such as grape type and price. The chief sub at the newspaper spotted the link between the 2005 Trimbach Riesling (8, The Wine Society) and 2001 Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling (11.99, Selfridges). Rose said the former had a "dry and youthful" character while the latter displayed the "kerosene undertone of age". And who were the overall winners? The magazine editor's team, funnily enough.

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

"China has become the world's sixth most important grower of grapevines," says Jancis Robinson MW. However, the quality of wines available has not always lived up to the market demand, she argues. On previous trips Robinson had been struck by "the relatively low quality of Chinese wine and by what an extraordinarily high proportion of it tasted like very, very thin, not quite clean, red Bordeaux". But a trip to China in early 2008 has restored some of her faith. Recommendations for the adventurous include: 2003 Catai, Superior Cabernet Sauvignon Shandong; Chteau Junding, 2005 Oriental Dry Red Bordeaux Blend Shandong; and 2005 Grace Vineyard, Chairman's Reserve Shanxi.

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Financial Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jancis Robinson MW touches on the subject of Bordeaux 2007. A "quite extraordinary" vintage, she says, but one that is the "polar opposite" of the 2003 vintage, which was produced amidst a heatwave. Robinson commends the whites but believes the reds are characterised by their lack of "alcohol, acid, ripe tannins and flavour". And her final verdict on the 2007 red Bordeaux? Drink early, as the "most positive thing to be said with certainty about the 2007 red Bordeaux is how brilliantly some producers have dealt with the most trying vintage many of them have ever known".

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The Sunday Express

Published:  23 July, 2008

Finding a wine to match "zingy, strongly flavoured sauces" is the challenge for Jamie Goode this week. He manages to find seven wines from around the world, which he feels are up to the task. The 2006 Viognier Bonterra Vineyards California (9.99 Majestic) is a wine "bursting with apricot, peach, honey and vanilla flavours" while the 2006 Pinotage Fairtrade Western Cape (5.15, Sainsbury's) is "chunky and bright" at an "excellent" price point.

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The Times

Published:  23 July, 2008

Jane MacQuitty discusses bottle size in her weekly column while remembering the old wine merchant adage that "there are no great vintages, only great bottles". She explains how 37.5cl half bottles "are not reliable as full bottles (75cl)" and age quicker because "there is more oxygen per centiliter of wine trapped in the neck of the bottle". The converse is true of magnums. One size that has won her approval is 50cl, and Waitrose has recently launched a range of eight different screw-capped options in this size. They are made "for drinking, not keeping" with the 2006 Ctes du Rhne from Louis Bernard (3.99) and the 2006 Chardonnay Loire Ampelidae (4.99) both worth investigation.

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

What is the ultimate wine to drink with your roast lamb on Sunday, ponders Victoria Moore. The Rhne tends to be the starting point, she says, with "a peppery Syrah from one of Chile's new cooler regions" always going well with a rare rack of lamb. Australian blends such as St Hallett's Gamekeeper's Reserve and Charles Melton's Nine Popes compliment a butterflied lamb leg, Moore believes. So carving through the mutton, she selects a 2005 Ctes du Rhne Villages, Domaine de Piaugier Sablet Les Briguires (Majestic, 8.99) and a 2005 Crozes-Hermitage (Tesco, 6.99), which needs to be accompanied by food for its "hint of savagery".

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The Guardian

Published:  23 July, 2008

"We [Brits] are serious skinflints when it comes to wine," argues Victoria Moore. No one will bat an eyelid to pay 2 a day for a "dismal Starbucks latte" or 10 for a cinema ticket, she says, yet the average bottle in the UK costs 4.01. However, this situation will have to change given the Chancellor's recent duty hike on alcohol and "either the price will go up or, next vintage, the quality will come down". Moore feels that if anything, poor quality wine only serves to fuel binge drinking as she drinks more given the only thing to savour is "the sense of relief when you get to the bottom of the glass". Despite this, there are still a few post-Darling bargains to be had. Of her four weekly wines, the top scoring were the "intense and aromatic" 2005 Domaine du Joncier Lirac (5.99, Waitrose) and the 2006 Nero D'Avola Sicily (3.99 Tesco) which is ideal with a "pasta or passata dish".

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The Independent

Published:  23 July, 2008

Supermarket own label wines are on the agenda for Anthony Rose with most chains having "a basic own label and at least a higher quality tier". Own label brands almost faced extinction in the 80s but were saved by the advent of new world wines from the likes of Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Separating the wheat from the chaff has always been the main challenge, Rose says, but a recent own-brand tasting competition of 427 products in London went some way to providing the answers. The 2007 Sancerre Joseph Mellot (10.49, Waitrose), with its "nettley aromas and flinty mineraliy", won the trophy for best white while the 2006 Shiraz from St Hallett (7.99, Marks & Spencer) took home the plaudits for best red.

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