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Critics June 5 - 7

Published:  09 June, 2009

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


Victoria Moore speaks to John Casella, owner of Yellow Tail, a brand that is responsible for 14% of Australia's wine exports.

The winery's so big that if you were to drink your way through one bottle a day, it would take 3,835 years, says Moore.

Over here, we get through 6m bottles of the stuff a year and Moore asks, what shifts it?

She says, Casella is reassuringly upfront in his answer: "Consistency; you know what you're getting. We shaved off a bit of acidity and added a bit of sugar. People always talk dry but drink sweet."

"A bit of sugar? The Cabernet Sauvignon has 11.8g/litre of residual sugar", exclaims Moore. Which is equivalent to about two tablespoons.

Yellow Tail isn't a brand I'd normally choose, she says, but Moore liked Yellow Tail's Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (£5.99, Co-Op). "Just the thing for chilli fishcakes".


If the South of France has become known as the new New World of wine, the South West is its new Old World, and is a region on the brink of rediscovery, says Anthony Rose.

After being upstaged by Bordeaux and Languedoc-Roussillon a few visionary growers, joined by innovative outside investors, have brought about a revival, Rose adds.

He says that what marks this region out is its wealth of idiosyncratic flavours derived from native grape varieties such as Tannat, Malbec, Négrette and Fer Servadou (reds) and Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Courbu, Mauzac and Len de L'el (whites).

Rose talks of Cahors, the French home of the Malbec, known as Cot or Auxerrois and it's here, he says, that passionate growers like Pascal Verhaeghe of Château du Cèdre, have worked their socks off to produce superbly rich and concentrated red like the 2005 Château du Cèdre, Le Cèdre, (around £20, Lea & Sandeman).

Financial Times

"I've fallen in love with a grape variety that's entirely new to me," says Jancis Robinson MW.

She says she can neither pronounce nor spell it with ease in its native language, but is told that its name translates as Bullseye.

"Certainly better on export markets," she adds, "than its more common name, Öküzgözü."

But, she adds, this was only one of many new grape variety friends she made on a recent trip to Turkey, which Robinson reports is a rapidly developing a wine culture.

She states that she's not alone her her enthusiasm for it.

The admired Bordeaux wine consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt was brought in to advise Kavaklidere, one of the biggest Turkish wine companies, on an ambitious new 175-hectare estate called Pendore. When Kavaklidere wines were shown in Bordeaux during en primeurs week in April, Robinson says, it was Öküzgözü that was particularly appreciated.

Tim Atkin MW says home winemaking kits are flying of the shelves, but questions how close you can get to the real thing?

Atkin made a Chilean white from Chile's Thompson seedless grapes and a Chardonnay and Rioja that came as grape concentrate

He said no one could confuse the three wines, and they were "surprisingly palatable".

He added, two were also quite cheap to make once you've bought a basic winemaking kit - around £40

The liquid is comparatively inexpensive and it works out at £1.29 per bottle for the Chardonnay and £2.26 for the Rioja, which Atkin says, "both tastes better than anything you'll find in a supermarket under £2.50".

Using the Chilean seedless grapes worked out more expensive at the equivalent of £7.48 per bottle.


Jonathon Ray's turn this week to talk about the Bordeaux en primeur campaign, or lack of it. This year, he says, it's rather confused and some traditional merchants have decided to offer only very few wines en primeur this year, if any at all.

James Tanner of Tanners of Shrewsbury says, "bar a few Pomerols, we're not selling 2008, Bordeaux en primeur due to zero interest from our customers".

Rob Chase of Adnams says his business offers only Chateaux Léoville and Langoa-Barton "because they never put a foot wrong and we have a list of regular buyers".

Ray says, after Robert Parker, announced his scores giving the wines far higher marks than anyone - including producers - the price of some wines doubled overnight and Ray says, folk who bought pre-Parker must be hugging themselves with glee over their investment.

But he also questions whether 2008, is an investment vintage.

"'Ideal for drinking but too patchy for investing' is how Amanda Skinner of Private Cellar puts it and I agree," says Ray.

"I tried a selection last week and came away thinking they were fine but none were superb."