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Wines in the press, February 9 -12

Published:  13 February, 2012

The Guardian
Fiona Beckett says Valentine's Day has absolutely nothing to do with what's in the bottle.

A glass of cheap Champagne is probably not going to taste much better than a decent glass of cava. It may send a message that you're worth spoiling, but no one wants to be ripped off, she says. To keep down the cost buy own-label. Granted, that might brand you a cheapskate, but if your beloved is shortsighted or you keep the lights low, he/she may not spot the word "Tesco"on the label. Beckett recommends Finest Premier Cru Champagne (on offer at £14.99, down from £19.99). Marks & Spencer's Oudinot Rosé is currently on offer at £15 instead of £25. If you must have rosé and it has to be a name, shop around, is her advice. Lanson Brut Rosé is on offer at £26.99 at Sainsbury's, compared with the usual £36-37.  The small consolation is that you'll still be spending a whole lot less than you would in a restaurant, where just a couple of glasses will set you back £20 or so.

The Observer

David Williams recommends and Australian, Italian and Spanish red. You do not turn to the Barossa for subtlety, but Torbreck Marananga Dam Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre, Barossa Valley, Australia 2008 (£12.99, M&S) gives complexity alongside rich, warming dark fruit. There's a touch of medicinal herbs, some chocolate/mocha, and a bit of spice in a wine that is reminiscent of the reds of the southern Rhône valley. His second choice is Zenato Villa Flora Lugana, Veneto, Italy 2010 (£8.99, Waitrose) which he says is full enough in both body and a herby, nutty flavour to make it work at this time of year, preferably with pasta in a creamy sauce. Wiliams thinks Bierzo in northwest Spain is one of the world's most exciting wine regions, thanks to the fragrant reds made from the Mencía grape. The Pizarras de Otero, Bierzo, Spain 2010 (£8.99/£6.99 Majestic) is amazing value, with plenty of depth but feels lighter than its 14% alcohol suggests.

The Telegraph

If you can't think of anything nice - or at least anything helpful - to say, then don't say anything at all, is Victoria Moore's preferred policy when it comes to assessing the ethical policy of Fairtrade wines. The superstores all carry Fairtrade lines, but the Co-op is by far the biggest player in the market. 64% of all Fairtrade bottles sold here come from the Co-op's range of wines from South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Co-op wine buyer Maria Elener says she has been working with Fairtrade wines since 2003. She gives an example of a place in Argentina, where the kids used to stop going to school at 11 because the secondary school was too far away to walk and there was no public transport. "I've watched people's lives change; it's been one of the best things I've done. Very rewarding," she says. If only drinking the wines were equally uplifting, says Moore. The Co-operative Fairtrade Pinot Grigio 2011 Argentina (£5.99) smelt like the "week-old water from a vase of flowers",  and the Fairtrade Torrontes Chardonnay 2011 Argentina (12.5%, £4.99) of "wet Plasticine", she adds. Moore thinks without the Fairtrade label, many would struggle to find a place on the shelf. But there is a handful she'd steer you towards, which includes the Co-operative Fairtrade Chenin Blanc Colombard 2011 South Africa (£4.99), the Co-operative Fairtrade Carmenère 2011 Chile (£5.99), and the Los Unidos Fairtrade Carmenère Cabernet Franc 2010 Chile (Waitrose, £5.99).

The Financial Times

Every January Jancis Robinson MW, finds herself in the Swan Hotel Southwold, for a major reassessment of the Bordeaux vintage of four years before. This year the 16 blind tasters included six Masters of Wine. On tasting the reds, she left with the impression that, the disparity between the top wines and the rest is particularly marked in 2008. Full ripeness was never achieved in many of the lesser wines, she says.  Left bank over-performers from the lower ranked châteaux included Branas Grand Poujeaux, Chasse Spleen, Grand Puy Ducasse and Haut Bages Libéral. On the right bank, Châteaux d'Aiguilhe and Joanin Bécot, performed particularly well. Higher up the ranks on the right bank in the Pomerol and St-Émilion appellations, Château Pétrus and Le Pin showed well. But, Robinson found all the wines from the J-P Moueix stable - the likes of Belair Monange, La Fleur Pétrus, Hosanna and Trotanoy - to be especially "delicious and well-balanced". There was no disappointing first growth in the blind tastings, she adds.


Terry Kirby picks his "pinks" for Valentines Day. For a traditional tipple, he goes for the "classically refined" Taittinger Prestige Rose NV (£42.99, Waitrose). Once solely a summer drink, rosé now finds favour even in winter with a few producers such as this setting new standards way above the "fun and fruity" idea, says Kirby. He recommends Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 2010 ( £13.50, as an appropriately sophisticated bottle for a cosy supper à deux at any time. In his opinion the best on the high street is Oudinot Rosé Champagne NV (£15, M&S). This excellent rosé version of its own-label Champagne is wonderfully crisp and dry, with lots of crunchy berry fruits and a satisfyingly long finish, he says.