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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.


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




Ara appoints UK BDM

Published:  05 May, 2009

Winegrowers of Ara, the premium Marlborough producer, has appointed Julie Williams to the newly created position of business development manager for the UK and mainland Europe.


Penfolds releases 2004 Grange

Published:  01 May, 2009

Penfolds has released the 2009 instalment in its ongoing Luxury & Icon Australian fine wine range.


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.


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),.


The second part of Natasha Hughes' marathon tasting round Argentina

Published:  16 April, 2009

Argentina, 14-22 March 2009

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in Argentina recently. The focus of the trip was on Rio Negro and Nequen in Patagonia and Argentina's heartland, Mendoza.