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Critics May 1 -3

Published:  05 May, 2009

What the critics in the press have to say this week.



Miracles sometimes happen, says Jane MacQuitty, and against all odds - as she explains how "the grasping Bordelais have launched the latest 2008 vintage early, complete with axed prices."

The leading St Émilion producer Angélus was out first at 40% down on last year, and so far most Bordeaux chateaux have followed suit with reductions between 30-40% on last year.

Before British Bordeaux fans get too excited, it's as well to remember that with sterling's drop against the euro this means at best prices are one third less than last year.

Even so, "this has left the lacklustre, mildew-beset 2007 Bordeaux vintage dead in the water," she reports. "What on earth is the point of buying the inferior '07 vintage of Latour for £2,450 a case, when you can buy the much finer '08 for £1,600."



Pingus is an odd sort of a name for a Spanish wine, but it's no ordinary wine, says Anthony Rose, at £650 a bottle for the 2005 vintage.

Robert Parker gave it 99 out of 100 and it sold out, a result of the Parker effect, he says. This puts it in line with Bordeaux' Château Le Pin.


But not everything in Ribera del Duero is out of price site, explains Rose. One of the most affordable Ribera reds on the market is the "succulently vibrant," Nos Riqueza 2006, (£9.99, Marks and Spencer) and the Altos de Tamaron (£4.98, Asda), "a steal."


Financial Times

In German wine, dry versus very sweet is a highly contentious issue with some critics of Germany's new wave of dry wines sceptical that a wine made from Germany's most famous grape can be both good and dry, reports Jancis Robinson.


Robinson took part in a tasting where television producer Markus Vahlefield invited 20 people to compare some of the finest dry, mature German Rieslings with other great wines of the world, over lunch, for a programme he was making on wine, then filmed them their comments on what they learnt at the end.


Several conclusions were apparent; one was that with the exception of a couple of medium dry Mosel 1990s, the dry German wines had aged much less gracefully to the French wines they were compared too.


But from 1993, the German dry Rieslings more than held their own, says Robinson - and by 2001 the "dry" wines were tasting much less austere than their 1990 counterparts had done.


"I urge you to try some," she says.


Tim Atkin is celebrating a professional milestone - his two decades of wine writing, and he talks about the upsides and downsides of the industry.


The upsides, he says, are the changes which include the rise of the New World, the organic and bio-dynamic wine movement, acceptance of screwcaps, decent Fairtrade wines and the renaissance of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy as modern winemaking countries, and he adds, "there's more good wine and far less bad than in 1989."


He commiserates at the reduction of choice on the high street and the disappearance of off licences such as Unwins and Bottoms Up, to which he considers has made supermarkets stronger than ever.


But he adds, when he first wrote his column he championed the cause of independents, and says he's delighted that "they have flourished and continue to source unusual and characterful wines."



The received behaviour on tasting a good New World Syrah, says Victoria Moore, is to nod admirably and murmur that it resembles an appellation from the northern Rhône, but costs much less.


But, she says, "the best Syrahs and best wines are simply themselves; you know them because they make you smile."


One that made her grin was Cave de Tain Hermitage 2005 (£24.00, M&S), "it was so intense it reminded me of a medicine cabinet."


Tabali wines from Chile are often compared to northern Rhône, says Moore. But their Encantado Syrah 2007 (£9.49, Waitrose), "tastes much better if you think that in that mouthful of bonfire smoke and creosote and black plums you are drinking something from Chile."