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Wines in the press, January 6-8, 2012

Published:  10 January, 2012

The Guardian

The first week in January must be the worst week for a drinks column, says Fiona Beckett.

Most people have given up booze for a time, the budget's taken a hit over Christmas, and low-alcohol wines, make dismal drinking, she adds. Time to unveil her new strategy - the one-drink-a-day diet. A 175ml glass of 14.5% abv wine, equals 119 calories, or 2.5 units, according to the drinks industry-supported By contrast, a 125ml flute of Champagne or any other 12% abv sparkling wine is only 95 calories, or 1.5 units. A Champagne- or even Cava-only January suddenly doesn't look unattractive, she says. Switching to beer or cider is an option, she recommends Manns Brown Ale (£1.59, Tescos) at 2.8% abv.

The Sunday Telegraph

Skipping ahead towards summer is Susy Atkins, she says if 2011 was the year of the modern Spanish white, then 2012 will see the rise of their Italian counterparts. Budge over boring old Pinot Grigio and make way for the likes of Cortese, which makes Gavi, a welcome addition to otherwise dull Italian white sections on supermarket shelves of late, says Atkins. Move on to sample Vermentino, which lends an unusual, green-herb tang and note of angelica. Or try Sicily's zesty Fiano - as with each of the above, it's unoaked, on the crisp side, and aromatic and thirst-quenching. All good reasons for us to turn our backs on the bland Italian whites of yesteryear, she adds.

The Financial Times

Buy Rhône before the Chinese do, is the new year advice of Jancis Robinson MW. Wine lovers in search of great French wine whose prices have not yet, been inflated by demand from Asia, are currently able to choose from two great vintages, the 2009 and 2010s, she says. Although Robinson says in the dry summer of 2009 some northern Rhône vines, failed to ripen their tannins properly and a few of the wines can be a bit drying on the finish. The summer of 2010 was much cooler, especially at night, and yields much lower, so that the ripening process seems to have been slower, steadier and more complete. Overall, the northern Rhône 2010s are delightful - ripe, but fresh and silky, she says.
A number of UK merchants are currently offering 2010 Rhône wines en primeur, hoping to encourage orders before their flurry of 2010 Burgundy tastings next week. The "lauded" 2009 Rhônes, now in bottle, are still widely available.

The Mail on Sunday

Olly Smith passionately believes that you don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy good wine. If it's value you're after, where should you shop? Smith says recently he's tasted a whole host of wines from Aldi and Lidl and found some impressive good-value labels. And the Co-op has a great attitude to wine, labelling its selections with the ingredients that are in the bottle. Elsewhere on the high street, own-label wines are a pool of gems when it comes to value. The Tesco Finest range is excellent; Sainsbury's House range is well worth exploring for wines at £3 and £4 - try NV Corbières at £3.99 for a red glugger. Plus, Marks & Spencer has some outstanding value vino, such as Piemonte Cortese 2010 (£5.49), he says.  If it's offers you're after, Majestic has 20% off deals across entire countries. Smith recently snipped the ribbon to open Symposium Wines in Lewes - it's fantastic to see a brand-new independent wine merchant on a mission to make wine more friendly. If you have a local wine shop, use it or lose it, he adds.

The Observer

David Williams recommends two French wines and a Rioja from Spain to tempt readers into breaking their January sabbatical. Vidal-Fleury Côtes du Rhône, France, 2009 (£8.99, or £6.99 if you buy two bottles, Majestic) is a Côtes du Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan at a great offer price. La Rioja Alta Viña Arana, Rioja, Spain 2004 (£19.99, Waitrose) is taken from a particularly good vintage in Rioja, and offers aromatic strawberry fruit swathed in vanilla, coconut and gentle tannin. And, lastly Château Romanin Les Baux de Provence L'Etoile de Romanin 2007 (£13.99, M&S) is an exceptionally deep and full-flavoured dry red.