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Wines in the press- May 7-9

Published:  11 May, 2010

When Tesco launched a range of four cheap wines labelled not by country or grape but by flavour, it was the New Zealand Sauvignon Blance white, named Cut Grass that tumbled into people's trolleys, says Victoria Moore.

Those grassy notes are no figment of the imagination, says flavour chemist Bradley Strange: "Grassiness comes primarily from aldehydes which are found in grapes and, especially, unripe grapes." For grassy tastes Moore recommends, Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (£6.49, Marks & Spencer).

There are those who believe that a wine can taste very different depending on whether it is sampled on a "fruit" day or a "root" day, says Jonathon Ray. Other believers are Maria Thun, and son Matthias as confirmed in their book-  When Wine Tastes Best: A Biodynamic Calendar For Wine Drinkers. Jo Aherne, winemaker at Marks & Spencer said she was sceptical at first, but its wines showed beautifully at a press tasting one day and far less well the next. Doug Wregg, Les Caves de Pyrène's director of marketing and sales, says "I know it sounds the most frightful hocus-pocus. But the more we investigated, the more we found the calendar to be accurate. It's a bit like Pascal's Wager and whether or not you believe in God. You've nothing to lose by following it."

Financial Times
Jancis Robinson MW, says she was lucky enough to taste 43 of the finest Madeiras produced by three of the island's best producers - Barbeito, Blandy's and D'Oliveiras. Robinson explains that it's the ageing that determines Madeira's quality rather than the grapes. I always wonder what would happen if there were to be a sudden wave of international enthusiasm for this intensely rewarding, versatile wine? Says Robinson. Ricardo Diogo Freitas says his old wines are viewed much more from a sharing point than pure business. "Many, many times, I have to refuse sales of old wines. I sell them in limited quantities (based on allocations every year) and only to the customers/importers that, I am sure, take good care of them."

Anthony Rose read an article that claimed real men are now drinking rosé when once it wouldn't have been sniffed at. When Rose asks why? Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, wine buyer for Waitrose answers: "The cliché of rosé being a 'female drink' is still prevalent, but less than it was, thanks to the growing popularity of drier styles of rosé and their suitability with food." Rose thinks it's great news that producers who take the style seriously have dramatically improved the quality. But adds: "The downside of the rosé bandwagon is that cashing in on a trend has brought us even more dross than there was before." He recommends Bélouvé, Bandol Rosé 2008, (£11.99, Tesco).

We Brits drink the big brands such as Banrock Station, Gallo, Turning Leaf, Hardy's, Kumala, Lindemans, Echo Falls by the bucket, says Olly Smith. He thinks the genius of these brands is that they remove the perceived risk the consumer takes when selecting wine. But is the wine any good? Smith asks. One thing they have in common is sweetness, "Whether you're tasting Gallo Family Sauvignon Blanc 2008 or Blossom Hill Merlot 2008, most of the big brand wines I tasted felt as though they had been boosted with sugar and then jacked up with acid, like soft drinks." Smith says one tip he can offer is there are brands that may not be the biggest, but do offer a reasonable shot at quality and similar price to household names, many are from France such as; La Grille, Dourthe, Paul Mas, Blason de Bourgogne, Laurent Miquel, Tariquet, La Différence and Gérard Bertrand.