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Wines in the press, October 13 -15

Published:  16 October, 2012

The Guardian

Fiona Beckett had never previously thought much about how older people can suffer from loss of appetite, let alone about how their palates may change.

It would mean for instance an inability to detect sweetness may lead to a desire for sweeter wines, while a lack of saliva may increase sensitivity to tannic ones. But while too great a departure from the wines you've enjoyed may be unwelcome, it isn't however necessary for a Bordeaux drinker, to migrate to a strapping, south Australian Shiraz. Instead they may well enjoy the ripe, plummy flavours of a Malbec such as the Venta Vieja Malbec 2011 (£8.29, Laithwaites), which "surprisingly" comes from Spain not Argentina, she adds. Beckett says another older friend now finds whites too acidic, particularly Sauvignon Blanc - so a solution would be to try one blended with Semillon such as the "lush, palate-cosseting" white Bordeaux Le G de Guiraud 2009 (£10.50, Corney & Barrow).

The Observer

Two wines from Spain, one from Italy are this week's choices by David Williams. His first is Bodegas Juan Gil El Tesoro Monastrell-Shiraz, 2011, Jumilla Spain (£4.95, The Wine Society). It's a Spanish red, which is a "total bargain", and is "simply bursting with plump, soft, plummy flavour," he says. From Italy comes Paolo Leo Primitivo di Manduria 2009, Puglia, Italy (£7.99, reduced from £9.99, Waitrose). It is one of Williams's favourite high-street bottles. Made from Primitivo, it's the sheer depth of blueberry and blackberry fruit impresses him, along with a sweet spiciness, a subtle twist of aniseed and a smooth texture. Back to Spain and Rafael Palacios Louro do Bolo,  2011, Valdeorras Spain (£17, Bottle Apostle ) is made by top winemaker Rafael Palacios, it's a Galician white that comes off like tangy peaches dipped in honey and cream, and displays a very clean, zesty finish.

The Daily Telegraph

The weather has been terrible. We know that, says Victoria Moore. On Tuesday this week the West Sussex winery Nyetimber declared things were so bad it had decided to scrap the 2012 vintage altogether. Winemaker Cherie Spriggs told Moore. "Nyetimber isn't alone in facing a zero harvest, though others have preferred to keep quiet about it." But England is a big place and the quality of wine grapes can of course vary tremendously from one site to another, says Moore. Those who are picking have been vigorous in their defence of quality. "Surprisingly ripe and the juice so far is excellent," Bob Lindo of Camel Valley told her. But across the board, yields are so low - typically 30 to 50% below average - that there is certain to be a shortage of English sparkling wine in about 2015 or 2016, when bottles from this vintage come on stream. It's not just the English who have had it tough. Vignerons across swathes of mainland Europe have had a lot to contend with in 2012. But it's frustrating that this should have come just now, when English sparkling wine, which has improved immeasurably in the past decade, has begun to be taken seriously across the wine world. However, whereas It might be a write-off vintage for some local growers, it's no reason to write off English wine, she says.

The Financial Times

When Jancis Robinson MW graduated, in 1971, she says wine was regarded as such a frivolous subject that she didn't dare confess her wish to waste an Oxford education on a career in it. Fortunately for her , it has has gained dramatically in status in the intervening years. One of the most important differences, is the "rise and rise" of grape varieties at the expense of geographical names. We now know wine as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir rather than as Chablis, Claret and Burgundy, she says. Robinson, Dr José Vouillamoz, a Swiss grape geneticist, and Julia Harding MW is have written 'Wine Grapes - A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties including their Origins and Flavours'. Robinson says there are thousands of different vine varieties -and in an attempt to keep their book to a manageable size (and it is already more than 1,200 pages) they decided to limit their attention to those grape varieties they could find making wine in commercial quantities. According to the final estimate, they number 1,368. However, so interested are the winemakers of the world in rescuing indigenous and nearly extinct grapes, as well as planting what the Australians call "alternative varieties", Robinson suspects any second edition of Wine Grapes may well run to almost 1,500 varieties.