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Wines in the press, January 19 -22

Published:  24 January, 2012

The Guardian
Fiona Becektt is looking at Australian Shiraz.

The less expensive Australian Shiraz, particularly that from the Barossa, is much as it's always been: big, bold and, as the Aussies put it, "grunty", she says. But there is now a trend to pick grapes earlier, resulting in less dense, extracted, more food-friendly wines such as First Drop Mother's Milk Shiraz 2009 (£14.99, The Secret Cellar). Other Shiraz's you'd be hard pushed to identify as Australian, include Battle of Bosworth, Puritan Shiraz 2011, which should arrive at Bibendum in a couple of months. Beckett also recommends the Pemberton and Frankland river regions of Western Australia, such as the Picardy Shiraz 2009 Margaret River (£22,, which she says wouldn't leave Côte Rôtie fans feeling short-changed. For bargain basement ones Beckett recommends The 2010 Oxford Landing Cabernet Shiraz (£4.99 for two or more bottles, Majestic).

The Independent

Ever wondered why Riesling is not as popular as Chardonnay? Or why Pinot Grigio is as popular as it is? Could it be because people like character in their wine, but not too much? Asks Anthony Rose. Riesling is an acquired taste and is more of a challenge to the palate than Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Rose recommends Jacob's Creek Riesling, 2010 (£7.79, Waitrose) with its lime-fruit quality and bone-dry finish, as a good place to start. We still tend to think of German Riesling as on the sweeter side, but it's Riesling's own heartland of Germany itself that's now in the forefront of the dry revolution, he adds. Rose recommends "crisp and citrusy" styles like Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinet, 2010(£11.99, Sainsbury's).

The Daily Telegraph

What exactly is the point of the latest alcohol-related edict to emerge from the House of Commons, saying we should all abstain from alcohol for at least two days a week? Asks Victoria Moore. The Government line on drinking grows ever more draconian while failing to engage properly with why, how or what we drink, she adds. Over-drinking, is more of a cultural issue - which is why the main effect of the duty escalator hasn't been to discourage it so much as to create a downmarket lurch - or the move to buying cider and cheaper British wine. It creates a "Withnail effect", Moore explains ( i.e lighter fluid is "a far superior drink to meths"). Hardly a step forward for civilization, she adds. Thanks to the duty escalator, it's getting harder for consumers to find affordable wines that taste good - but what they can still afford is the alcohol.

The Financial Times

While many in the wine trade are currently touting the unexpectedly high quality of the 2010 vintage in Burgundy, Eric Rousseau, holder of the reins at Domaine Armand Rousseau in Gevrey-Chambertin, admits that it was by no means clear during the harvest that they were picking something special, says Jancis Robinson MW. "We knew it would be good only after the malolactic fermentations," he told Robinson. Acid levels in both reds and whites are notably high in the 2010s that Robinson has tasted - the late second softening malolactic fermentations seem to have turned uncomfortable tartness into acceptable crispness in most cases, she adds. The smallness of the berries in 2010 seems to have left most whites chock-full of flavour. But a few wines are simply too thin and/or tart. In general the reds are a cherry-red and standards of winemaking have been high, she says.

The Observer

David Williams shares some of his wine trends for 2012. Firstly, it's hard not to feel aggrieved about the duty escalator, he says. And it's only going to get worse this year, when the expected 15p is added to the price of a bottle in the March budget. Suppliers will have two choices: absorb the cost and drop the quality, or hold the price and risk losing listings in the supermarkets. Along with unfavourable exchange rates it has made it harder for wine producers to make a decent living selling in the UK, many have either pulled back or withdrawn entirely. But it's not all bad news - English wines have improved, he adds. With the best now far from the embarrassment it once was.