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Wines in the Press, May 6-8

Published:  09 May, 2011

The Guardian
According to conventional wisdom, asparagus is well up on the list of "tricky ingredients to pair with wine", says Fiona Beckett.

She admits asparagus on its own can make whites taste oddly sweet, especially if they're oaked. But she thinks the problem is overplayed and sticking to crisp, dry, young whites should be fine. An obvious match is Sauvignon Blanc, which has tastes of asparagus, Beckett advises to avoid the "very asparagussy" ones and stick to more minerally French styles such as a classic Sancerre or cheaper Touraine Sauvignon. An alternative would be an English wine such as a Bacchus Cornish winery Camel Valley does an attractive 2010 vintage (£12.95). If you add a dollop of rich, buttery hollandaise to your asparagus then you can opt for a richer white, for instance the lusciously creamy Innocent Bystander Chardonnay, Yarra Valley, Australia (£9.49, West Mount Wine of Huddersfield). You can even drink asparagus with a red if you char-grill it and serve it with olive oil and slivers of parmesan, or with mushrooms, whose meatiness sets off a red nicely.

The Telegraph

Victoria Moore is talking about next Sunday's inaugural Natural Wine Fair where 120 growers, most of them from France, with some from Italy, and representatives of Australia, Portugal and Spain, will attend. Although Moore says she loves wines that don't taste as if they were made in a factory, she's not convinced that "all this hoopla" is a good thing. "And that's before we mention that the definition of a 'natural wine' is a little bit amorphous." It's not a legal term, nor is there an official body that regulates it, she adds. Some of the wines she has enjoyed most would be categorised as natural wines. She says they taste alive and honest, versus the stale aeroplane-cabin air of a poor brand. But the catch is that natural wines tend to be very unstable and don't always survive transportation and storage, she adds. Worse still, just because a wine is natural doesn't mean it's delicious. Moore thinks it is an area that needs to be approached inquisitively, with caution.

The Financial Times

Will wine and local politics ever blend into one harmonious cuvee for France's biggest wine region, the Languedoc? Asks Janics Robinson MW. I fear not, she says, and not on the basis of the latest attempt to forge a financially sustainable future. The local trade body, the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL), has come up with a neat but "thoroughly artificial" three-part pyramid. In the middle are the Grands Vins du Languedoc, wines sold with well-known appellations. At the bottom are the cheapest wines sold by big négociants. At the top are the new Grands Crus du Languedoc. The pricing criteria for these Grands Crus almost make Robinson weep. The target bulk price must exceed €250 per hectoliter (that's €2.50 a litre) while the recommended retail price (incl VAT) must exceed €10 a bottle. "Whatever do the vignerons of the Languedoc think when they see Château Lafite, whose owners also own a property, Château d'Aussières, in the Languedoc, going for more than £1,000 a bottle, I wonder?"

The Mail

Olly Smith talks about "the unsung gems "of Portugeuse wines. He's always enjoyed port, but I also believes Portugal harbours some fantastic local grape varieties, such as white varieties, Rabigato and Viosinho, and reds such as Castelão and Touriga Nacional. In recent tastings he found the Portuguese whites a bit hit and miss, but adds The Douro is really excelling with its reds. They range from modern reds such as T-Nac 2007 from Quinta Vale das Escadinhas, (, £83.94 per case of six) through to bolder examples, such as Quinta do Noval Douro 2007 (£34.99, There are iconic names and huge talents, such as Dirk Niepoort producing wines that will make your toes rotate in your shoes with glee, says Smith. He recommends Niepoort Redoma 2008 (£35, Selfridges).

The Sunday Telegraph

Not only do we arguably produce the most complex and satisfying beers in the world, but there are all those world-famous Scottish and (northern) Irish malt whiskies and the ciders, the liqueurs, says Atkins. But she's decided to highlight English wines, in part because the aromatic whites and sparklers suit this time of year so well. Last year was the first when the grape harvest for making sparkling wine exceeded that for still, which is a sign that the future of English wine and Welsh is "absolutely fizzing". She recommends Tesco Finest Denbies Estate English White 2010, Surrey (£8.79) and Camel Valley Darnibole Bacchus 2009 (Fortnum & Mason,, £14.95).