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Wines in the Weekly Press

Published:  18 January, 2007

Jefford drools over Argentine Malbec; MacQuitty feels gamey; Atkin meets the last of the Mohicans' in Rioja; Goode looks at lower-alcohol wines; and Ehrlich and Simon discuss cynical pricing. Christian Davis reviews the reviews


As eruditely as ever, ANDREW JEFFORD says some grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc, are as recognisable from their passport photos in the southern hemisphere as in the north. Whereas for others, the equator seems to act as a prism. He cites Syrah, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Argentine Malbec. For the latter, he describes: a world original. Its quality potential is impressive. Might it one day produce the most complex and food-friendly red wines in the southern hemisphere?' Jefford gives gold stars to: 2003 Fabre-Montmayou Malbec (5.95; Wine Society); 2003 Fabre-Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec (7.95; Wine Society); plus another unspecified wine from the same producer (available from Vinothentic at 8); and the 2003 Alta Vista Premium Malbec (7.45; Lay & Wheeler).

Under Jefford's masterly column, former Harpers chief sub-editor and occasional scribbler Anastasia Edwards writes about Absolutely Pink, a new seedless pink grape variety. Good to see members of the old firm doing well.


It's game on for JANE MacQUITTY. For Times readers who regularly go shooting or are more sedentary hunter gatherers who just like to eat game, she recommends red Burgundy as the best marriage with game. Looking at it from a vinous perspective, she lectures: 'No point at all splashing out on an expensive venison fillet if you are going to partner it with a 3.99 Rhne.' Her favoured wines are: 2002 Savigny 1er Cru La Batall aux Vergelesses (16.99; Majestic); 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin Le Meuger (14.99; Morrisons); 2004 Labour-Roi Nuits-Saint-Georges (15.99; Morrisons); 2003 Kangarilla Road Shiraz (9.99; Majestic); and 2003 Crozes-Hermitage, Tain L'Hermitage (6.99; Sainsbury's).


JONATHAN RAY regales readers with his visit to Andrew and Laurel Quady's property in Madera, 20 miles north of Fresno in central California. Quady is known for his Essensia (Orange Muscat) and Elysium (Black Muscat) dessert wines. He also makes a 'port', drolly called Starboard, a Vermouth, a low-alcohol 'picnic' wine called Electra and a concoction of Muscat and herbs, 'including an Aztec fertility herb and a medieval love potion', called Deviation. Ray's wines of the week are: 2005 Brown Brothers Late Harvested Orange Muscat & Flora (5.99 for 37.5cl; Asda, Budgens, Co-op, Majestic, Sainsbury's, Waitrose); Swan Valley Wines Chocolate Reserve (15.95 for 50cl; Rodwells); 2004 Domaine de Fenouillet Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (8.51; Bibendum); and Pedro Ximnez Cardenal Cisneros (13.50-15.50; The Winery, Great Western Wines).


VICTORIA MOORE gets gooey-eyed about cheap plonk at 3 a half-litre served up on holiday. She acknowledges that such wines rarely travel, but suggests for those who 'miss the unpretentious, characterful (sic) wines of their vacation': 2003 Old Tbilisi Red Saperavi-Dzelshavi (around 4.99; Bristol Wine Company, Les Caves De Pyrene,, Peake Wines, Soho Wine Supply, Susses Victuallers) and 2003 Periquita, Terras do Sado, southern Portugal (4.99; Waitrose). In her Drinks Q&A, a reader asks: 'Is it now all right to drink Chardonnay again?' Moore says she notices a 'slow (and grateful) creeping back towards Chardonnay'. Her two suggestions are: 2005 Yalumba (4.99; Marks & Spencer) and 2004 La Begude (8.99; Waitrose). 'Drink them with chicken liver pat and toast, or crayfish or warm chicken salad. And relax,' she suggests.


Lpez de Heredia's dining room may look like Miss Havisham's boudoir and he may expect Count Dracula to appear any minute, but TIM ATKIN MW travels to Rioja to taste eight vintages of Tondonia, one of the world's greatest wines. He doesn't want Observer readers to think he is smug, but tells them that he tastes these wines back to 1957. Winemaker Mercedes Lpez de Heredia says she feels like the 'last of the Mohicans', making this style of barrel-fermented white Rioja. Atkin recommends the 1981 Via Tondonia, Lpez de Heredia (35; Great Western Wines; Moreno Wines). 'Give yourself a treat,' he beseeches. He goes on to recommend: 2005 A&A de Martnez Laorden (8.99; Novum Wines); 2005 Muga Rioja Bianco (6.99; Majestic); and 2004 Remelluri Blanco (25.99; Alliance Wines). Atkin laments the regulations governing the making of white Rioja, saying: 'It would be a shame if the last of Mohicans had no offspring.'


Wine trade pin-up MATT SKINNER, sommelier at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, selects his best and worst summer wines. All of his four- and five-star wines come from Tesco and Sainsbury's, the only five-star wine being Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec Reserve (3.99).


Harpers regular JAMIE GOODE picks up on recent trade comments and increasing disquiet about rising alcohol levels. He recommends lower-alcohol wines. They include: 2005 Early Harvest Semillon/Sauvignon (6.99; Sainsbury's); Asda Vinho Verde NV, Portugal (3.98); 2004 Leitz Rdesheimer Rosengarten Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau (7.99; Waitrose); 2004 Moselland Insignum Riesling Erdner Treppchen Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (4.99; Sainsbury's); and Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Rosso NV (1.58; Asda).


RICHARD EHRLICH starts with an apology: he recommends a Wine Rack wine that was on promotion but finished the next day - last Monday. It is the 2003 Les Quatre Cpages, Domaine Tariquet, Vin de Pays des Ctes de Gascoigne (7.99, was 4.79). He goes on to discuss Oddbins' announcement that it is to stop promotional pricing and the cynical discounting of wines with spurious recommended retail prices. His 'great aperitifs' are: La Gitana Manzanilla (6.49-6.99; Majestic, Sainsbury's, Waitrose); 2001 Oudinot Champagne (19.99; Marks & Spencer); and 2004 Bethany Riesling (6.49; Majestic).


JOANNA SIMON continues the discussion over cynical pricing and Oddbins' decision. Her 'cellar notes' are: 2005 Portal da Aguia white, Ribatejo (4.99; Oddbins); 2004 Juranon Sec, Domaine Cauhap (9.95; Stevens Garnier); and 2004 Viognier Cuilleron (11.36; A&B Vintners).


Scintillating summer sparklers at around 10 is SUSY ATKINS mission. She says forget 'bargain' Champagne and look to the likes of New Zealand, Australia, California and Spain. Her choices are: Charmelieu Crmant de Bourgogne NV, Cave de Bailly (9.99; Marks & Spencer); 2002 Segura Viudas Brut Cava (8.99; Oddbins); and 2003 Hunter's Miru Miru, Marlborough, New Zealand (11.35-11.99; Averys, Christopher Piper Wines, Jereboams).