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Constellation streamlines US distribution

Published:  24 July, 2009

Constellation has streamlined its US distribution with new appointments in 19 states.


Profits soar at Oyster Bay firm

Published:  22 July, 2009

The New Zealand producer behind the Oyster Bay wine brand has reported a 146% leap in net profit for the last half of 2008.


Wines in the press, July 17- 19

Published:  20 July, 2009

Here is what the national wine critics had to say over the weekend of July 17 - 19.


Rioja claims industry first

Published:  17 July, 2009

Nine Rioja producers have achieved the highest levels of natural resveratrol ever recorded in wine.


Wines in the Press, July 11-12

Published:  14 July, 2009

With everyone gearing up for their summer holidays the national critics this week turn their attention to what to drink over the hopefully hot summer months, plus tips on laying wine down for ageing, the merits of Australian wine and the peculiarities of vodka 

The Guardian
A lover of cava Victoria Moore is not. And, having read a Tom Stevenson
article, she thinks she understands why: "It seems blindingly obvious now.
The richness produced by autolysis makes those cava grapes look vacuous and
flat." On the other hand, the prosecco enthusiast says the bubbles produced
by the tank method "lets the fresh, lightness of the grape shine through",
as with various other cheap fizzy wines.


"Take, for example, the insanely cheap, pink, sparkling low-alcohol wine
Lambrusco Rosato NV (£1.92, Asda; 4% abv)," says Moore, which she describes
as the definition of low-brow, "but at that price I could make myself quite
happy on it."


At the other end of the spectrum is Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
Champagne 2002 (£29.99 from Waitrose: 12% abv), with a creamy mouthfeel
Moores loves. "From a wonderful vintage, it's complicated and collected, and
just right," she says.

The Observer
"Keeping a wine is always a risk - leave it too long and it'll turn into a
shagged-out disappointment - but when you drink something with the right
amount of bottle age, it can be truly delicious," declares Tim Atkin, who
marvels at the statistic that nine out of 10 wines are drunk within 48 hours
of purchase - or rather at how the statistics are produced. No doubt by
people in white coats primed with clipboards at bottle banks, he thinks.


Since owning his own cellar, Atkin has become a man converted from his days
as a member of the DIY (Drink it Young) club. He recommends avoiding whites
(fizz, Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay excepted) and lighter reds for
ageing in favour of wines with flavour and depth of character.


He suggests putting three bottles of "the dense, chocolatey" 2007 De Martino
347 Vineyards Carmenère Reserva (£7.49, or £5.99 each for two at Majestic)
in your cellar, or cupboard, and trying one within 48 hours, one in two
year's time and one in five for comparison.

The Sunday Times
Arriving home from a holiday a couple of years ago, Bob Tyrer smelt what
seemed like the back end of a party. Closer inspection revealed broken
bottles in his cellar. Stricken, Tyrer salvaged what he could by soaking up
the liquid, straining it into a glass and drinking it.


It was a Pavlovian response, he explains - a response derived from his days
as a Ten Quid Pom in 1960s Australia. A time before Australia had discovered
Chardonnay, Tyrer recalls halcyon days when the country's exports consisted
largely of fortified wine and sultanas and they kept still wine from pioneer
vineyards for themselves.


On one particularly flush day, the young reporter ordered the most expensive
wine on a restaurant list to be amazed. "Blackberries, blackcurrants, mint -
they're almost commonplace in decent wine now," he says, "but I'd never
tasted anything like it. So my reaction when the same fragrance and fruit
wafted from my cellar floor decades later was Pavlovian."


Not necessarily enamoured by supermarket offerings from Australia these
days, Tryer says there are still bargains that show Australia at its best -
even if drunk off the floor. He recommends trying Penfolds' Koonunga Hill
Shiraz Cabernet 2007 (£7.99) and Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Barossa
Shiraz 2006 (£7.99).

The Times
Jane MacQuitty presents the first instalment of her Top 100 Summer Wines,
with the best buys on the high street for under £8. A slave to the Great
British public's palate, she reveals the perfect wines for all occasions.


She tackles difficult issues like when to drink good wine as opposed to
great wine, the best wine for drinking in "the great blustery outdoors,
which dilutes bouquet and removes flavour", as well as the "knotty business
of matching the right wine to the right palate."


Job done, first on her list of saviours is Majestic's 2008 Domaine de la
Tourmaline, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, Gadais Père et Fils (£6.49 or
buy two for £5.99 each). "Summer white to enjoy with rich seafood and oily
fish," she says.

The Financial Times
Jancis Robinson MW spends time with Swiss entrepreneur Faure Beaulieu who has
tempted a handful of prized sommeliers to join his new company Sarment.


Members pay a heady £50,000 to join plus an annual fee of £12,000 "to have
their every vinous wish satisfied", says Robinson. Their personal sommelier
tends to their wine collection, takes care of the nuts and bolts of delivery
and storage, becomes a constant, trusted wine companion who provide stories
and information, reports Robinson.


"Selfishly," confesses Robinson, she would prefer Beaulieu's
"entrepreneurial skills harnessed to come up with ways to improve standards
in the wine business as a whole, rather than frittered away on 75
particularly well-heeled wine neophytes in emerging markets."


There may be no need to fret - membership might be limited to 75 clients,
with a maximum of 15 per sommelier, but the new business has yet to sign a


The Telegraph

Jonathan Ray continues to be baffled by vodka, despite a day tasting with

experts Ian Wisniewski and Tom Innes. But it seems they're all perplexed in
the end, with Glen's winning their blind tasting test. "A supermarket
cheapy, distilled in Scotland from sugar beet," says Ray.


"I don't believe it!" exclaims Wisniewski. "Nor me," says Innes. "I've
always struggled to see value at the top end of the vodka range, which this
result vindicates. But I'm astonished."


So, Ray is left unconvinced, seeing vodka as "an efficient alcohol delivery
system, sold on the back of crafty marketing". Wisniewski, of course,
disagrees: "You can certainly get pleasure from neat vodka, but you have to
adjust your expectations. Compared to aged spirits such as cognacs or malts,
the details are much smaller."


The top three vodkas in their tasting are Glen's (£8.69), Russian Standard
(£13.29) and Absolut (£14.99). Bottom of the pile in ninth and tenth places
are Grey Goose (£30.79) and Smirnoff Black (£15.99).




Cut price Kiwi 'madness'

Published:  08 July, 2009

Selling Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc at £3.99 is commercial madness, according to First Quench's buyer - despite the business starting a half-price offer on Villa Maria.


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!"


Constellation upbeat despite sales fall

Published:  01 July, 2009

Constellation Brands has reported a 15% drop in consolidated net sales in the first quarter of its current financial year, largely impacted by the sale of its value spirits business.


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.


Tastings: Simon Woods gets his lips round eight new releases and suggests where they could fit into your wine line-up

Published:  16 June, 2009

Simon Woods gets his lips round eight new releases and suggests where they could fit into your wine line-up.


My Taste

Published:  16 June, 2009

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


Anne Krebiehl: Final blog from New Zealand harvest

Published:  10 June, 2009

So very few days are left in the gorgeous Central Otago autumn sunshine and still a little hung over after the harvest celebrations, my picking mates James and Martin and I have a tour of the Felton Road Winery:  spotlessly clean and pervaded by the smell of the fermenting fruit.


Argento launches in USA

Published:  09 June, 2009

The Argentine wine company Argento are about to launch their brand from Mendoza into the US through Lion Nathan USA.


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.


Critics May May 22-24

Published:  26 May, 2009

What the press have to say over the May bank holiday weekend.



Victoria Moore finds that some tastebuds are a little harder to please after lunching with sales rep Dave who claimed to have, "virtually no sense of smell or taste."

So she prescribed wines with masses of texture and body to, "punch through those dull tastebuds and give his tongue something to think about."

The first wine she recommended was an Aussie Shiraz that, "has brightness, is overt and all but growls."

Mount Langi Ghiran Billi Billi Shiraz 2004 (£9.99 or £6.99 when you buy three at Wine Rack).




The relevance of Bordeaux's system of selling its top wines as futures, or en primeur, in the spring after the vintage, has been called into question by the "latest shenanigans," over the 2008 vintage, reports Anthony Rose.


Every spring, the top Bordeaux châteaux release their prices to give consumers a chance to buy early at a relatively affordable prices which are based on how they see the quality of their wine that year, of the vintage as a whole and what the market will wear.


But no one was expecting great shakes from 2008 not even the Bordelais, Rose reports. Until Robert Parker pronounced 2008: "a notch below 2005, but better than any other vintage of the last decade except 2000".


All of a sudden prices of wines rated highly by Parker went through the roof, says Rose. With the first growth châteaux Lafite Rothschild trading at £3,200 per case after releasing at £1,900 and Latour, released at £1,590, up to £2,500.


This means real wine lovers will be priced out of the market if the reaction is to yield to the temptation not to drop prices.


For wine lovers in urgent need of a case of fine red Bordeaux, here's a few names the best critics agree fulfil the essential pre-requisite of good quality and reasonable pricing: La Lagune, Calon-Ségur, Léoville Barton, Langoa-Barton, Pichon Lalande, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Le Petit Cheval.


Financial Times


Jancis Robinson says that her a visit to New Zealand, earlier this year, she met the most extraordinary wine producer.


Hiro Kusuda, admits that to pursue his dream he and his young family had to subsist for eight years without any income at all, she says. "Even today, the total production of Kusuda Wines in Martinborough is but a few hundred cases of Syrah and Pinot Noir a year."


Bob Campbell, a wine writer and Master of Wine, sent Robinson a report of Kusuda's 2009 harvest, saying he was witness to the most rigorous grape selection process he had ever seen . "Each berry was inspected for any flaw and removed if not perfect."


Here, clearly, is Japanese perfectionism as applied to one of the world's most pragmatic wine industries. And the resulting wines are truly exceptional, says Robinson.


Just before the 2006 vintage Kusuda managed to buy a small vineyard of his own, 1.2 hectares -3 acres. "I tasted two wines made in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages and thought that not only were the 2006s unusually fine but both wines seemed to get better with each vintage," says Robinson.


"I'm not proud that I had no income for so long," Kusuda told Robinson. "But as the whole family sat round silently watching me taste the full range of his wines from perfectly polished Riedel glasses, I could feel their pride radiating," she says.




Go on, celebrate the start of English wine week with a crisp, delicate elderflower and hedgerow-scented English wine, says Jane MacQuitty.


With the first new vineyards planted in London since the Middle Ages, one on wasteland behind King's Cross station and the other at Forty Hall Farm in Enfield, English wines are no longer a joke, she says.


Bulldog British enthusiasm, has seen plantings up by 50 per cent in the past five years, to more than 1,000ha, and our production is set to double in the next five years, reports MacQuitty.


Until May 31 there are lots of fun functions. Visit uk for details, and contact English Wine Producers on 01536 772264 for a free map of Vineyards of England and Wales.



Everything is coming up rosé, says Jonathan Ray. As rosé wines continue to soar while those of red and white wine fall.


"And where rosé used to be infra dig, it's now de rigueur," he explains.

According to market researchers AC Nielsen, sales are up 17.7 per cent on the year, with the total rosé category now representing 11.5 per cent of the British off-trade by volume and worth some £533 million.


Value is starting to outstrip volume, which suggests that we're all finally prepared to pay more as the wines improve. Thank God for that, he says, since more than half the pink wines in this country still come from California, home of that dire vinous bubblegum, ''Blush'' Zinfandel.




Wine journalists under the spotlight at LIWF

Published:  14 May, 2009

The role of the wine journalist and their influence on consumers was the subject of a lively debate at today's LIWF.


New Taste - LIWF special

Published:  07 May, 2009

Claire Hu and Carol Emmas preview the hottest new product releases at the London International Wine Fair and Distil.


LIWF - can you afford to miss it?

Published:  07 May, 2009

There are plenty of tailored events, tastings and seminars at the London International Wine Fair between May 12-14 to help you in your restaurant business.