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Harvest news - sustainable irrigation system aids TWP vintage

Published:  15 November, 2012

A sustainable irrigation system linked to a reservoir made a significant difference to this year's harvest, according to winemaker Stefano Girelli.


Italian screwcap decree is a 'crass compromise', says expert

Published:  30 October, 2012

The Italian Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to relax laws on wines allowed to be bottled under screwcap, but renowned expert David Gleave MW of Liberty says it hasn't gone far enough.


A new decree was drafted in August 2012, allowing all DOCG wines, apart from those with the name of a sub zone on the label, or the name of a vineyard, to use alternative closures such as screwcap or synthetic corks. However Gleave, the managing director of Liberty Wines, says it hasn't gone far enough and called it a "crass compromise".


The amendment came on the back of a letter originally sent in 2006 by Gleave, stating that producers should be allowed to decide which closure was best suited to their wines and their market. He made the point that the previous ministerial decree of July 1993, which banned the use of anything other than natural cork on DOCG wines, was outmoded.

He said: "As from early next year, we expect to start shipping a Soave Classico under screwcap. But here is the rub. We can ship both a Soave Classico and a Soave Superiore DOCG under screwcap, but not a Soave Classico Superiore DOCG. This latter wine needs to be sealed with cork.


"Such a crass compromise does little to promote the image of Italy as a quality-focussed and innovative wine producing country, especially when we currently import Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru and other such European wines sealed under screwcap."


Liberty has been in touch with its producers to see which will be moving to screwcap. Once a majority of members of any consorzio vote in favour of a change, the amended law for that zone must be sent to Rome for approval.



Gleave added: "The decree has removed the obstacle previously placed in the way of those producers who wanted to use screwcaps, but does underline the fact that local consorzi must instigate any change."



According to Gleave producers in Chianti, Gavi and Barolo & Barbaresco Chianti, Gavi, Barolo and Barbaresco have applied to their consorzios to implement the change.



Douglas Blyde looks in to the wines of Joe Bastianich from Friuli

Published:  30 October, 2012

Rock and roll in appearance, and relaxed in manner, Wayne Young hosted a tasting of the wines of Joe Bastianich's Friuli vineyards this week in London with UK agent Bibendum.


Douglas Blyde on discovering the world of Amarone through Sandro Boscaini and Masi Agricola

Published:  25 October, 2012

Bedecked in stripes, from suit to socks, Sandro Boscaini, president of Masi Agricola, was in town earlier this month to celebrate the launch of a hardback book about arguably the best-known wine from Valpolicella, from where he was born. 'Amarone - The Making of an Italian Wine Phenomenon' is written by British expat, Kate Singleton (who also collaborated on Wines of Sicily and The Golden Book of Chocolate). Six corks, one embossed, grace its cover.


Geoffrey Dean on his discoveries in Piedmont

Published:  19 October, 2012

In contrast to the wettest British summer for a century, Piedmont enjoyed such a dry, sunny growing season that the harvest was completed much earlier than normal.


Italy wins top spot in TripAdvisor Wine Destinations Awards

Published:  17 October, 2012

Online travel website TripAdvisor has announced the European winners of its 2012 Travellers' Choice Wine Destinations Awards.


European Commission lends weight to minimum pricing opposition

Published:  02 October, 2012

The European Commission has added its weight to the list of countries that have objected to Scotland's plans for minimum unit pricing.


European Commission lends weight to minimum pricing opposition

Published:  02 October, 2012

The European Commission has added its weight to the list of countries that have objected to Scotland's plans for minimum unit pricing.


Government's zeal for minimum pricing means 'pause' in industry co-operation, warns WSTA

Published:  27 September, 2012

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale has warned that the government's U-turn on minimum pricing would lead to a "pause" in the industry's co-operation.


Rolling update: Wineries make harvest predictions

Published:  29 August, 2012

As September looms, the wine industry in the northern hemisphere is keeping an anxious eye on its crops, with many having experienced unusual weather conditions earlier this year.


Morrisons adds Caviro wines to range

Published:  28 June, 2012

Morrisons is to take on two new wines from the Italian wine co-operative Caviro - Pinot Grigio Blush delle Venezie IGT and Garganega Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT.


Chianti classico board agrees on major revamp

Published:  11 June, 2012

Chianti Classico is set for a major overhaul which will see the creation of a new icon level of wine above Riserva.


June tasting events

Published:  07 June, 2012

June 12-14

Stevens Garnier Trade Tasting Roadshow


At Your Service blog

Published:  30 May, 2012

Bargain-basement branding and boredom blog by Christopher Piper, chairman of Christopher Piper Wines in Ottery St Mary, Devon.


Michael Stoddart explores the 'economic deception' behind supermarket wines

Published:  21 May, 2012

Vino Ignobile?


Chianti classico could have own 'icon' wine

Published:  18 May, 2012

Chianti classico's governing body is considering proposals to introduce an "icon" top-level wine above riserva.


Leading Italian producer calls for greater professional standards

Published:  20 April, 2012

A leading Italian wine producer says there is too much confusion with labelling, and called for greater professional standards to be introduced, given the industry's rapid expansion.


Argentina grows UK exports

Published:  10 February, 2012

The popularity of Argentinian wines continues to forge ahead, with UK exports for 2011 up 8.4% by value, according to the latest figures from Wines of Argentina.


Torrontés trumps consumer's favourite white wines, says study

Published:  13 October, 2011

Torrontés, the white grape variety unique to Argentina, has trumped consumer's favourite white wines in a study by Wine Intelligence.


Wines in the Press April 19-20

Published:  21 April, 2009

What our national wine critics had to say for the weekend of April 19-20


Victoria Moore's friend thought she hated all Italian white wine, until she realized it's not all Pinot Grigio. Or Trebbiano added Moore, who says, "Trebbiano is even more innocuous than Pinot Grigio, and I don't mean that in a good way."

This realisation that Italy has other whites may not quite be up there with Archimedes' eureka moment, but it is a joyous one, says Moore, as she focuses on wines from the north west.

Piedmont is famous for its Barolo - tannic, acidic, austere, she explains. And red. But it also makes glorious whites from Arneis, Favorita and Cortese (which is responsible for Gavi), while, just to the south, Liguria, with its rocky shorelines and tiny beaches, specialises in Vermentino.

For a good example of the latter, try Laura Aschero Vermentino 2007, Riviera Ligure di Ponente (£18,

Financial Times

Bordeaux's powerful consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt genuinely thought he wouldn't be making any wine in 2008 reports Jancis Robinson. "He was far from the only one to suspect that grapes so swollen by summer rains, ravaged by mildew and threatened by rot were unlikely to survive in any flavourful form long enough to be picked and fermented into wine," she says.

As harvest approached, the malic acid in the grapes was so high that they tasted more like cooking apples, explains Robinson.

Robinson also claims the wine commentators and wine merchants who descended on Bordeaux to taste the 2008 vintage did not expect to find such attractive wines, but, she explains, most of the reds are now tasting very well with succulent St Emilions and Pomerol on "better form than ever."

Although the performances of different châteaux vary considerably in 2008 she says, particularly among top wines, there seemed to be no geographical weak spot.


Jane McQuitty also talks about Bordeaux 2008 vintage as being the," the no-go area that economic pessimists feared."

She was likewise surprised at, "just how good some of the wines are."

The finest 2008 clarets are attractive deeply coloured wines with surprisingly sweet, floral and vibrant fresh red fruit ripe flavours, she says. But adds, "there were plenty of disappointments too."

She also explains that "how fine the slow-growing Bordeaux 2008 wines are," is causing heated debate and quotes Robert Parker, as letting it slip that apparently 2008 is better than the excellent 2006 and 2004 claret vintages and nudging the great 2005.

"Absurd," she exclaims. "Last year's is a miraculous, weather-defying vintage of just above average quality, made and saved by a small crop, late-season sun and a fruit-concentrating northeasterly wind."

This is not to devalue the best wines of 2008, she says. "I tasted some gorgeous clarets that were very good indeed, but, overall, while the vintage is much better than the lacklustre 2007, it is somewhere between 2001 and 2006 in quality."

"The big question now," asks MacQuitty, "is how the blinkered Bordelais will pitch their 2008 campaign prices."


If anybody knows a member of the Comité Régional d'Action Viticole, could you ask him to get in touch? Asks Tim Atkin,

When I say in touch, I'd rather the person in question picked up the phone or sent me an email, rather than use the calling card his organisation usually favours - small explosions and walls daubed with paint.

CRAV is an illegal organisation that targets anyone in the south of France who sells or imports foreign wine, as well as French wineries that are owned by overseas companies.

"It's hard to see what CRAV is trying to achieve," says Atkin. "And its call for more subsidies to prop up a series of under-achieving domaines and co-operatives is crazy."

On the face of it, these are depressing times for the Gallic wine industry, he reports. Recent figures confirm that France is still leaking market share like a splintered barrel and the situation is getting worse.

The irony of this is that France is making better wines today than at any point in its history especially between £4.99 and £7.99.

Try the sun-kissed, plummy, herby 2007 La Différence Carignan, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (£4.99, 13.5%, Sainsbury, Tesco, Asda, Co-op).


The last time I saw Alvaro Espinoza, Chile's leading organic winemaker, it landed me in a mountain of steaming dung after his four-wheel drive got stuck and so we had to be pulled out by a tractor, recalls Anthony Rose.

He wondered if Charles and Camilla would suffer a similar fate when they visited him at Viñedos Emiliana Organicos in Casablanca recently. "No such luck," he says.

Espinoza has been one of the leading proponents of sustainable vineyard methods in Chile, Rose explains. Having latterly applied his skills to the production of a powerfully rich and spicy Syrah. "

And Syrah," he says, "is Chile's latest big thing."

My current preference is for the more elegant northern Rhône styles emerging, of which the pepper-infused, aromatic 2006 Matetic Syrah, San Antonio Valley, around £18, (Genesis Wines - 020-7963 9062),.