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Wines in the press March 28-29

Published:  31 March, 2009

National critics pass their judgements on wines they have recently tasted.

National critics pass their judgements on wines they have recently tasted.

The Guardian

Victoria Moore is tasting Bordeaux on offer, and compares one wine she tastes to a well-dressed publc school boy.

"A bit uptight. Deep emotions, but not quite showing them. Minor public school. There's some maturity and he's nice, but he's let himself down - can't be bothered to do his home-work, he got distracted by Lassie or logged on to Facebook."

The Pauillac in question - Château Croizet-Bages 2002 (£19.99 down from £29.99 until April 14, Sainsbury's, 12.5% abv).

Most controversial she thinks is Château Simard 1995, St-Emilion (on offer at £9.99; 12% abv). Straight into the glass it was a delicious experience, says Moore. But it fell apart quickly. "Just don't open it until the last second, and don't decant."

She liked Château Palmer Alter Ego 2004, Margaux, the most, (on offer at £29.99; 13% abv). "Artfully and subtly fragranced with delicate power and ageing potential - the most self possessed and complete of them all.

The Independent

Anthony Rose quotes chef Mark Hix, who writes that he likes his fish cooked as simply as possible and calls for dry whites with a taste of the Med to accompany them. "Where better, then, to head for Italy," says Rose.

Until recently Italy was better known for great Rosso.  In the past whites used to refer exclusively to Soave, Frascati and Lambrusco of which its "dubious" place has now been taken by Pinot Grigio.

But to say there is no decent version of Pinot Grigio is unfair, says Rose. Like the Alto Adige's appley version, San Michele-Appiano 2007 (£8.99, Waitrose) and the zingy Alois Lageder 2007  (£9.99 Booths).

But most he reflects are overshadowed by superior north-east Pinot Bianco and Tocai, such as Patrizia Felluga's Zuani Vigne Bianco, Collio 2007 (£13.95 Lea & Sandeman), an aromatic, risotto friendly Tocai.

Rose also rates central, southern Italy, the islands and Sicily which, he says are making a bigger contribution than ever to the unique diversity of Italian whites, with barely a Chardonnay in sight.

The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson MW reflects that the Champagne houses need to change their attitude - to become more involved in sales and marketing rather than graciously allocate their wares.

Last week's big annual generic Champagne tasting was for the first time preceded by a press briefing on Champagne's current state of play, she says.

Previously notorious for anti-sustainability the Champenois have now realised that a more long-term approach is necessary.

Much is now being made about their collective efforts to recycle, reduce pesticides and the microbial health of the soils which apparently boast one tonne of worms per hectare. "Who counted?" Was celebrity biodynamic winemaker Monty Waldin's retort to Robinson's BlackBerry.

Bollinger held a similar briefing, and what caught Robinson's attention was the changing composition of grapes due to climate change. Average yields have increased by 50% since 1989, with acid levels falling by a around quarter and grape musts a whole degree more potent. "Which must have had quite an effect on the resulting wines," says Robinson.

The overall quality of the pink Champagnes was better than she last tasted in 2004. Of the wines she tasted last week she gave the pinks a score of at least 17 points out of 20 and the vintage Champagnes at least 17.5.

The Observer

Tim Atkin is playing parlour games to relieve the tedium of a long haul flight by asking fellow wine hacks to name their five favourite red and white grape varieties.

The two favourite whites are nearly always Chardonnay and Riesling and reds Pinot Noir and Syrah. After that it was Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner and Semillon for whites and Nebbiolo, Tempranillo and Touriga Nacional for reds.

"No sign of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot," says Atkin.

The one that really raised the eyebrow though was Semillon. Of which Atkin is a fan, as it makes some of his favourite white wines.

"But why isn't Semillon better known?" He asks. "Despite it being the principle grape in Château d'Yquem and the most planted white in Bordeaux."

The one country it's taken seriously in is Australia. Atkin would argue it's their best white grape. Especially given its quality, it's ludicrously cheap, he adds.

For example Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley 2001 (£9.99, Morrisons 11%).