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Wines in the press - September 16-19

Published:  19 September, 2011

The Guardian

Unless you're a devotee of the classic martini, you may not have given vermouth a second thought - but this underrated drink deserves respect in its own right, says Fiona Beckett.

After a asting with Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller, whose book, The Mixellany Guide To Vermouth & Other Apéritifs, is out this month, Beckett puts forward several recommendations. Vermouth, like sherry, is a fortified wine, but one flavoured with herbs and spices. There are sweet versions such as the Martini Rosso (£10-11), which is a key component of a Manhattan, and dry ones such as Noilly Prat (£8.99, Sainsbury's, Waitrose; 18%), which is still most bartenders' choice for a martini. Two aperitifs to drink on their own are Lillet Blanc (£16.90 Nicolas) and the "delicate, floral" Chambéry, (£6.50 The Wine Society) which makes a great alternative to a glass of white wine.

The Telegraph

There is an art to choosing wine in a restaurant - or in a pub, says Victoria Moore. Her first strategy is the delaying tactic which is to start "with a glass of something cold" in order to buy time for a proper look at the wine list. Matthew Jukes, the wine buyer for Bibendum Restaurant & Oyster Bar has the best advice on dealing with the unwieldy lists, she says, and that is to start at the back, as the New World section is usually shorter. For French wine Jukes veers first towards Beaujolais and the Loire on the grounds that even the best producers will often cost less than an average wine from elsewhere. Moore goes further to say never choose Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé, for better-value choose a Touraine Sauvignon, or an unfashionable white Bordeaux.

The Independent

Is selling wine a business or a passion? Asks Anthony Rose. There is a yawning chasm between wine merchants for whom wine is a labour of love and those going through the motions to keep the shareholders happy. It's a shame for anyone without a local Waitrose, Marks & Spencer apart, there's no competition for its value, breadth and quality. It is the closest we have to a wine merchant with attitude, he says. As far as independent wine merchants go, any wine lover lucky enough to live close to Tanners of Shrewsbury, D Byrne, Noel Young, Secret Cellar, Stone, Vine & Sun or WoodWinters is probably well aware of their virtues already, and specialist Guildford-based Les Caves de Pyrène is taking crusading zeal for wine to new levels.

Financial Times

Former marine, Rutger de Vink, who spent three years in high-tech ("with a tie on - I was miserable"), now lives silver Airstream camper in a wood on the edge of his 16 acres of vines overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, says Jancis Robison MW. De Vink decided to make vine-growing his life in 2000, and took a serious look at California's Sonoma Coast. "But I wanted to be where it hadn't been done before." The first samples, from vines just three years old, so intrigued the Médoc's famous oenologist Eric Boissenot, that he volunteered to become a consultant for RdV Vineyards. De Vink planted 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot and a little Cabernet Franc. "It can be a struggle to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon in Virginia," he admits. But he clearly has his sights set on making a Virginia first growth, says Robinson. There are many attractive wines made in Virginia, but what marks de Vink's wines out is their density, without heaviness or marked alcohol, she adds.

The Mail

Olly Smith says he's going to shake things up. White wine often pairs better with a cheeseboard than red, he claims. He knows that most people adore a glass of red with their cheese, but when you consider the massive range of textures and tastes from blue to Brie, sometimes reds can dominate where white wines allow a broader range of flavours to flourish, he adds. Generally speaking you want a similar weight of texture in your wine and food. To start try torn chunks of Mozzarella with a glass of chilled Prosecco.
At the other end of the flavours spectrum, a chilled glass of Tawny Port paired with crumbly Stilton is "divine". With creamy cheeses such as Brie, Smith is a fan of white Chardonnay from France's Burgundy such as Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard Les Belles Filles 2009 Pernand-Vergelesses (£16.99 Waitrose).