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Wines in the press - September 25 - 27

Published:  29 September, 2009

The Guardian


Victoria Moore says there is actually no big mystery to the art of wine tasting. "You take a sniff, put the wine in your mouth, swill it around, lose yourself to it for a moment, then spit. If making notes, you write down what you think of it."


You can get more out of a tasting by choosing wines carefully, Moore explains. She says she was recently asked for ideas on a line-up for a Chilean tasting and suggested comparing a handful of Sauvignon Blancs or Syrahs, or tasting a selection of bottles from a single winery to get a feel for the way wine-makers leave a fingerprint on their wine.


Moore recommends, The Society's Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (£5.95, The Wine Society), or Terra Andina Altos Carmenère Carignan 2007 (£9.99, Oddbins).


The Times


"I have been desperate for this change of season and the switch from skinny whites to warming winter reds," says Jane MacQuitty, and adds that Syrah gets her "autumn vote".


She explains, Syrah's original home is on the steep granite hillsides of the northern Rhône valley in expensive strongholds such as Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie and Crozes-Hermitage.


Its New World stronghold of Australia and is enjoying success in South Africa, California, Chile and New Zealand, she says.


MacQuitty recommends for enty level Syrah, Waitrose own-label  Côtes du Rhône Villages 2007 (£5.99) or Domaine de la Grande Bellane 2007 (Tesco and Co-op, £6.99).


The Observer


"Attending a tasting run by The Bunch, a group of Britain's leading independent wine merchants, is like watching The Magnificent Seven," says Tim Atkin MW. Every time the posse reassembles, it seems to have lost a member and Lay & Wheeler is the latest to fall, now that is owned by Majestic, he adds


But he enthuses that even with only five tables and a total of 40 bottles, "The Bunch managed to show more interesting wines than most supermarkets manage in a year".


Atkin recommends the 2006 Kumeu River Maté's Vineyard Chardonnay, Auckland (£18.90, Tanners) and  Adnams Cellar Selection Fronsac 2001 (£17.99).


 The Financial Times


Among the many arguments for abandoning or, at least, revising the famous 1855 Bordeaux classification is the performance of Château Sociando-Mallet, says Jancis Robinson MW.


"It's not classified under the system, admittedly because it has come to prominence only in the past two decades," she adds. Robinson explains it was the "famous' 1982 vintage that put Sociando-Mallet on the map and divulges it has been rated more than once above all classed growths, including the firsts.


"Of all the Château Sociando-Mallets from 1969 to 2008, the only vintages I would not drink with pleasure are the 1973, 1977 and 1984 - all of them notoriously poor vintages throughout Bordeaux," she says.


In Robinson's opinion the 1975 "is one of the best 1975s of all for current drinking".


She commends them for their "distinct, robust style that has shone through admirably, especially since during these 40 years so many Bordeaux proprietors have fallen victim to the latest fads in winemaking."


The Sunday Telegraph


Susy Atkins says she has tasted some "distinctly buttery wines of late" at several Autumn press tastings. 


Buttery whites tend to be made from Chardonnay which has a generous, fruity character, she explains. 


"Such wines are not always heavily oaked, although ageing in barrel does add to the buttery effect with a further creamy, vanilla layer, as the wood leaches some of its flavour into the wine," she adds. 


Some of it, too, she tells us, is the effect of malolactic fermentation (MLF), when tarter, appley malic acid converts into softer, more buttery lactic acid, and this is something winemakers can control, to a large degree, creating a more buttery wine if desired.


"Whatever the science," Atkins says, "let's hear it for butter-rich, full-bodied, unctuously textured white wine, especially as the colder, darker nights draw in."

Atkins recommends: Antonin Rodet White Burgundy 2007, France (Sainsbury's, £5.99) and Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay 2007,  (Majestic, £8.49).