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Wines in the press - February 21-24

Published:  26 February, 2013

We review the wines that were picked out by the national wine writers over the last weekend in our Wines in the Week round-up.

The Guardian

Monday saw the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, and the wine industry's annual focus on ethically produced wine, says Fiona Beckett.

However, recent unrest among agricultural workers caused some to say that South African wines should be boycotted, she adds. The government may have since announced a 52% increase in the minimum wage for farm workers to R105 (£7.58) a day, but this still seems shamefully low, she says.

So, should we be boycotting South African wines? Beckett thinks not. She says the wine industry is one of the country's success stories, providing employment for many who would not otherwise have a job. Pay and conditions clearly still need to be significantly improved, but a widespread boycott would hit some of the new small producers who are changing the face of the area's wine.

She recommends: The Raats Granite Blocks Chenin Blanc 2012 (on offer at £7.99 at Majestic if you buy two or more bottles) or the Co-op's "attractively smooth" Wild Ferment Chenin Blanc 2011 (£7.99), which is made at Stellenrust in Stellenbosch. Beckett adds it's also worth bearing in mind that many producers who offer their workers a fair wage and conditions don't necessarily choose to be registered Fairtrade. José Manuel Ortega of O Fournier makes wine in three countries, Spain, Chile and Argentina, and has instead set up a charitable foundation and a nursery for his winery workers, says Beckett.

The Daily Telegraph

Victoria Moore asks whether you have checked out the BBC's new incarnation of Food & Drink? Please say it's not just me who found it a bit of a struggle, she says. Moore likens it to watching the rehearsal for a pilot of a show aimed at jollying up day-care centre residents on a break from their basket-weaving courses.

Kate Goodman, whose task it is to find three drinks to go with each plate of food, has been asked by the BBC's editorial to recommend particular wines, but only through generic categories, and this doesn't help, says Moore. Viewers apparently want to know what wines cost. Moore said she turned off BBC's iPlayer feeling less hungry and thirsty than she had when she had switched on, which she says is odd when the subject of what might be cooked with a particular bottle (or vice versa) can often absorb her for hours. On her tired or busy days inspiring nuggets would save her from yet another pizza from Sainsbury's Local, she says unfortunately BBC's Food & Drink, sadly, would not.

The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson MW has a new enthusiasm for complete, beautifully balanced fine whites from the local Spanish Godello grape grown inland of Rías Baixas, particularly in its homeland, Valdeorras. These are dry, dense wines that have both fruit and acidity and can improve in bottle for many years, she says.

In the 1970s, the variety was almost extinct, so there are few really old vines. However, cuttings were taken from such vines and the first varietal Godello wine of the modern era was released.The biggest private owner of Godello vineyards is probably the family company, Valdesil which owns about 50 hectares, all in small lots. Spain's most prominent flying winemaker, Telmo Rodríguez, has produced his version, Gaba do Xil, named after the river Sil on whose banks many Godello vineyards are located. Perhaps the most high-profile incomer has been Rafael Palacios, says Robinson. He is the youngest brother of Alvaro Palacios, who put the equally steep and mineral-laden vineyards of Priorat in Catalunya on the map in the 1990s with his single vineyard, L'Ermita. With his nephew, Ricardo Perez Palacios, Alvaro has developed the admirable Descendientes de J Palacios.

Over dinner at Lutyens, organised by UK importer and Spanish specialist Indigo Wine, Rafa showed the 2011 vintage of each Bolo - Louro do Bolo, As Sortes, Sorte O Soro from the first vineyard he bought. The sheer class of the 2011 vintage was clear (2010 was a bit too cool), says Robinson and urges you to buy some. And there is no hurry to drink it, she adds.