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Andrea Briccarello tastes his way through Burgundy

Published:  27 July, 2009

Burgundy has always attracted me more than any other region in France because of it's rural heritage and stunning wines. After years of opening gracious and velvety Pinot Noirs and creamy sumptuous Chardonnays, I was very excited to join a small group from Les Caves de Pyrene to visit this promised land.


Wines in the press, July 4-5

Published:  07 July, 2009

Here is what the national wine critics had to say over the weekend of July 4-5.

The Guardian
Victoria Moore is upbeat to see the 2007 Rhône reds hitting our shelves. Not a vintage generally admired in France, says Moore, "but while it poured in much of the country that summer, the southern Rhône remained defiantly dry".

And, says Moore, it's not just a vintage "for those with money to burn on Châteauneuf-du-Pape", with quality sweeping across the board. Waitrose's Rhône buyer Andrew Shaw goes further, saying village appellations were exceptional and, proportionately, the lower priced wines represent even better value.

One worth seeking out, says Moore, is Domaine de la Berthète Côtes du Rhône 2007 (£6.49, or £5.19 by the mixed case, Oddbins).

The Observer
Prompted by a not uncommon discussion with a perturbed waiter, Tim Atkin MW explains why there are advantages to drinking some red wines chilled.

Fruit and perfume are more pronounced in a wine at 15C than at 22C says Atkin, with higher temperatures encouraging alcohol to leap out of the glass and flavours to seem jammy and indistinct.


Apart from astringent, chunky wines with high tannins, Atkin reckons "you can chill pretty much anything red to 14C. But lighter, fruitier wine is where you'll notice the biggest difference".


He suggests putting Asda's juicy, raspberryish 2007 Extra Special Beaujolais Villages, Boisset (£4.61, 12.5%), in the fridge.


The Sunday Telegraph

"Real men, making real ale, sounds like the last, sweaty bastion of a traditional drinks industry," says Susy Atkins. Imagine her surprise then, to come across two female brewers in the space of a month.

Otter Brewery in east Devon and Marston's in Burton upon Trent each boast a female brewer who have developed similar views regarding women's tastes. They believe women dislike overtly bitter flavours, preferring lightly hopped, crisp draughts, "but not bland lager", checks Atkins. The ground-breaking duo also agree that decent beer deserves to be served in wide-bowled glasses, not heavy tankards, and in the art of beer and food matching.

Atkins suggests trying Otter Brewery's Beautiful Daze (£1.90 for 500ml from Waitrose and selected Tesco) and Marston's Pedigree Premium English Ale (£1.70 from major supermarkets), which she says is more malty, with mellow, nutty notes - and good with a classic cheese ploughman's.


The Times
"Not even I want to fuss about with wine on hot, humid days," declares Jane MacQuitty, preferring ice-cold summary cocktails, "complete with a decent slug of alcohol".

To pep up non-alcoholic cocktails she recommends a good 40% plus gin such as her favourite - "Tanqueray's amazing, angelica and juniper-stashed 47.3% Export Strength" (Waitrose, £17.29; Threshers and Wine Rack, £17.99) - and St-Germain elderflower liqueur (Waitrose, 50cl, £14.99).

Alas, not even the Royal mixologists at a charity event she attended at St James's Palace could challenge her enduring favourite: Cheat's Pimm's. Best, she says, made with one measure each of gin and red vermouth and half a measure of Bols Orange Curaçao, (Gerry's and The Vintage House in Soho, London), the usual fruit and greenery and topped up with ice-cold sparkling lemonade or ginger beer.

"It has more kick and flavour and is less expensive than the outrageously expensive, wishy-washy Pimm's No 1 and Sainsbury's silly £10.79 imitation, Pitchers," says Macquitty.


The Sunday Times
Bob Tyrer believes the perception of Californian wines as either bland if cheap - cue Blossom Hill or Gallo - or expensive if made by film stars is 'not entirely true'.


However, he agrees that drinkable American wines generally cost too much. With the help of a British importer, he gives reasons for the high price point, including the expensive dollar and cost of freight, which is 20% more than shipping from Chile or New Zealand. The other, more worrying, reason cited was arrogance, with the importer believing that American producers "simply don't care whether the export price is competitive because they sell so much on the domestic market".


Tempted to boycott American producers until they wake up to the recession, Tyrer does manage to recommend Parducci Pinot Noir 2007 (£9.99 at Oddbins). 'A bargain by Californian standards,' he says.

The Financial Times
Jancis Robinson MW is optimistic about the quality of wine coming from New Zealand, and reports the country is "no longer a one trick pony".


Chardonnay, second in plantings to Sauvignon Blanc, has seen a general step up in quality, with wines still retaining New Zealand's trademark bright, fruit acidity, says Robinson,.

Complementary of market leader Montana's "modest bottling of unoaked Chardonnay" (widely available for less than £7, and £5.59 at Waitrose until July 21), her enthusiasm is muted by the news that Montana is cancelling its grape contracts in Gisborne. Why, she asks? Because the market prefers Sauvignon Blanc.

"Catastrophic news for Gisborne grape growers", she says. "Buy Gisborne Chardonnay; keep these growers afloat!"


Wines in the press June 26 - 28

Published:  30 June, 2009

What the critics have to say in this weekend's news.


Wines in the Press - June 19 - 21

Published:  23 June, 2009

What the critics had to say this weekend


Blason de Bourgogne relaunches with first ad campaign

Published:  18 June, 2009

HwCg is re-launching its Blason de Bourgogne brand under the slogan "We Are Blason" with a new look, more premium varieties and a major consumer advertising campaign.


My Taste

Published:  16 June, 2009

Value is the name of the game at Asda, finds Claire Hu.


Profile: Alvaro Marcos Garcia, of Theo Randall, on being asked for ice cubes in a Bordeaux cru class and Sauvignon Blanc with steak

Published:  01 June, 2009

Award-winning sommelier Alvaro Marcos Garcia thinks wine communicator Olly Smith is from another planet and thinks the customer is always right, even if they do want a Sauvignon Blanc with their steak.


Carol Emmas - Skalli in Sète

Published:  07 May, 2009

From Châteauneuf-du-Pape we travel to Sète in the Langeudoc, for a tasting of all wines under the Skalli range with winemaker Laurent Sauvage.


All water is not equal, says Noura's Nicolas Angelina

Published:  06 May, 2009

Noura's Nicolas Angelina discovers there's more to water than meets the eye




Maison Trimbach joins Enotria

Published:  28 April, 2009

Maison Trimbach, one of Alsace's most famous wine producers has announced it is joining agents Enotria's portfolio from May 1 in a move to up its profile in the UK market.

Jean Trimbach, 12th generation of the founding family, said: "We are not in the habit of changing agents - this is the first change for us in 35 years. But we saw in Enotria the capability to really develop our On Trade presence in the UK. Enotria's reach, as well as their strong wine credentials, make them an ideal partner for us."

Tim Sykes, Enotria director of buying, added: "Naturally we're absolutely thrilled to be taking on such an iconic supplier - it's a huge honour for us, and really underlines Enotria's credibility as a source of fine wines. Trimbach are listed in every single one of the 26 Michelin 3-starred restaurants in France, and we will be looking to mirror that considerable achievement in the UK. At the same time, there is huge potential to bring Trimbach's wines out to a wider drinking public."

Enotria chief executive, Alison Levett said that the deal was a major coup for the company.

"It's fantastic news - we are truly honoured to be involved with one of the world's greatest white wine producers."

Jean Trimbach will be presenting his wines on Enotria's stand F52 at the London International Wine Fair from May 11-13.


Carol Emmas -Roaming around the Rhône

Published:  25 April, 2009

The great thing about a wine trip is how much you can learn from a two or three day visit to a producer or an area - as it doesn't matter how much you read, you can never learn fully from the pages of a book.


Daniel Marzotto on how he ended up at Osteria dell'Angolo in Westminster

Published:  16 April, 2009

Daniel Marzotto, the assistant manager at Claudio Pulze's latest restaurant, Westminster's Osteria dell'Angolo, on the twin challenges of learning English and convincing customers that food and wine matching is still worthwhile in a recession.


Comments - Duncan Watts

Published:  16 April, 2009

It's not enough just to list a good selection of wines in your restaurant, says Duncan Watts, owner and managing director of the Rocket group, you also have to find ways of making that list accessible to your customers



Latour first of the blocks with lower price

Published:  14 April, 2009

Château Latour has become the first of the Bordeaux First Growths to name its price for the 2008 vintage, and as expected it is some way below the opening price for its 2007.


Opinion: The Tate's Hamish Anderson on holding your ground in tough times

Published:  09 March, 2009

Hamish Anderson, head sommelier at the Tate, explains how to get your priorities right in challenging times.


Sotheby's sales soar

Published:  05 March, 2009

Sotheby's has bucked the trend of economic gloom after the auction house's latest wine sale netted receipts of nearly £600,000, some 10% above its top estimate.


Laughing Matters

Published:  23 February, 2009

Croak Rotie is the latest wittily named wine brand to poke fun at traditional French wine regions.



Published:  23 February, 2009

Laughing matters
First we had Goats do Roam, then Bored Doe.  Now Croak Rotie is the latest wittily named wine brand to poke fun at traditional French wine regions.



Published:  20 February, 2009

Winetraders Portfolio Tasting, Hallgarten Druitt Annual Tasting, Maisons, Marques et Domaines Portfolio Tasting, Mentzendorff Portfolio Tasting, Australia Day Tastings and Pol Roger Portfolio Tasting.


Wines in the press, February 14-15

Published:  16 February, 2009

Our review of what the critics had to say in this weekend's national press