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Wines in the press, September 21-24

Published:  25 September, 2012

The Observer

It's a hat-trick of reds for David Williams this week; the first being Marks and Spencer Vin de Pays de l'Ardèche Gamay, France 2011 (£4.99

At this unusually low price it uses the Gamay grape variety most commonly found in Beaujolais but is here grown in the Rhône Valley. It is the kind of light, succulent red that the French would call a vin de soif: a thirst-quencher and just the thing to wash down a meaty fish or a simple lunch of soup or salad, he says.  His second wine is; Tesco Finest Viña Mara Rioja Reserva, Spain 2007 (£9.99, Tesco, Williams points out Tesco is having one of its periodic 25% off deals when you buy six bottles this week, and this is one of his favourites of the range. It's a sumptuous but soft red, made for the supermarket by Baron de Ley that is just starting to take on some savoury characters, he says. Lastly; Marco Sara Frank, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy 2009 (rrp £15, Aubert & Mascoli).  This winery has a young winemaker, Marco Sara that makes wines of great originality and style from his small patch of organic vines in the northeastern corner of Italy. Wiliams loves this red made from Cabernet Franc.

The Telegraph

What is red Rioja? Asks Victoria Moore. Firstly; you can't be sure of the grape - it might be a blend, or it might not. An older wine is more likely to contain Garnacha; back in 1973 this highly coloured, softly fruity, alcoholic grape accounted for 39% of all the grapes in Rioja, since then Tempranillo has steadily grown in influence, by a majority of 80% by 2002. Today, Tempranillo, with its mulched strawberry taste, pretty much is Rioja, says Moore.  But unless you know the wine, how to choose one that will appeal? In Rioja classifications are strictly regulated. Gran reserva is the Marmite of Rioja styles, she says. It's all about the "sinew" of the oak. The rules are that it must have at least two years in oak casks and three in bottle. Reserva has gravity without being over the top. It must be aged for at least three years, at least one of which must be in oak and one for the cellar. Crianza requires a minimum of one year in oak and a few months in bottle. Joven. The name says it all: young, she adds. Might have a little time in oak, or no oak at all. Moore recommends: Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2008 Spain (Lidl, £5.99) which for Moore is the pick of Lidl's current range and is "startlingly good value", she says.

The Financial Times

Joseph Berkmann pioneered so many things we now take for granted such as; popular wine journalism, consumer wine guides, wine clubs, comparative tastings, dinners devoted to a single top estate and even Beaujolais Nouveau, says Jancis Robinson MW.
Although the owner of Berkmann Wine Cellars is now 82, he is neither retiring nor retired.
He initially threw himself into restaurateuring building up a group that was to include Minotaur, L'Opéra, Lockets, Lafayette, Au Jardin des Gourmets, JB's Brasserie and part-ownership of Covent Garden club Zanzibar. But he realised that he and his customers needed to learn about wine, so he dived next into matters liquid, adds Robinson. He set up a wine company in New York with Russian wine merchant and author Alexis Lichine, and for a long time had a bottling plant in southern Beaujolais. Another company he set up and sold on, is now India's second biggest wine company, he claims. Robinson says his big confession is he's never done things for money - just things he was passionate about. Berkmann has witnessed at close quarters the evolution of modern wine and so Robinson asked him whether he thought wine was continuing to improve. His reply was quality is better than ever, but prices are "crazy." He told Robinson: "Not like the lovely dinner parties we used to give in St Tropez where we'd serve things like Petrus '64 without a second thought".

The Sunday Telegraph

As well as spicy, creamy, leathery or grassy notes, wine occasionally delivers 'nutty' ones, too, says Susy Atkins. For instance in fine Tuscan reds can taste of toasted nuts sprinkled over cherry. Nuttiness also forms a backdrop to a sturdy Rhône or Douro Valley red. Oak-ageing only enhances the nuttiness, says Atkins. But not just in reds. Certain unoaked whites, especially Italians, hold an almond hint, while in France there are nutty white Rhône blends, and Chenin Blanc's distinctive edge of walnut oil. But nuttiest of all are certain fortified and sweet wines, namely sherry, Madeira, Marsala and Tawny Port. Amontillado Sherry, medium-dry and pale amber in hue, has a wonderful, lingering note of hazelnut, says Atkins. And she is definitely pouring a small glass with Diana Henry's roast chicken and pumpkin with hazelnut picada, she adds,