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Wines in the press - March 9-12

Published:  13 March, 2012

The Guardian
The big wine story so far, this year is turning out to be not prices but alcohol levels, says Fiona Beckett.

It's the most important issue for consumers in the UK, US, Germany and China, according to recent research conducted at ProWein. So why is it some winemakers pull off wines with modest levels of alcohol while others apparently struggle? She asks. Once you start striving after wines with structure and ageing potential the abv tends to creep up. Plus, wines such as Bordeaux and Rioja have increased in alcohol in line with a growing taste for wines that are softer and riper. If you let grapes hang longer, the alcohol level goes up - if you pick earlier, you have to accept a higher level of acidity. That's fine if you're drinking the wine with food, but it can be less appealing to drink it on its own. Reds that fit the bill tend to come from cooler areas like the Loire. Beckett recommends the low sulphur, L'Hurluberlu 2010 St Nicolas de Bourgueil, (£10.60 from HG Wines). Whites are an easier proposition. Others have been manipulated to lower the alcohol, which Beckett thinks we'll be seeing more of. With the exception of Domaine la Colombette's 9% abv Plume Blanc Chardonnay (£8.10 HG Wines ), although she hasn't come across one she likes, yet.

The Daily Telegraph

There are a lot of glasses in Victoria Moore's flat - which she admits to buying compulsively. Spiegelau, Schott Zwiesel and Riedel, are among others. And Baccarat, which she considers the Rolls-Royce among glasses. "Its red wine glasses make wine purr, sleekly, richly," she says. For a price of £64. The reason she has so many is because she's on a quest to find the perfect wine glass. Many glasses take a decent wine and lose it. You take a little sniff, hoping for a spine-tingle moment and find... almost nothing, she says. The best cheapest glass she's come up with so far the John Lewis Fine Wine 35 centilitre glass at £30 for a box of four. She's never liked the "very fashionable" Chef & Sommelier glass. But finds the Dartington Chef's Taster more than holds its own. The Riedel Gourmet Water Glass also performs well, she adds.

Sunday Telegraph

Gewürztraminer, is either deeply fashionable or completely naff, depending on whom you ask, says Susy Atkins. It's a wine that divides the room. Those who revere it hail its deeply exotic scent, complete lack of clumsy oak and amazing ability to match modern, spicy fusion dishes. Those who decry it point to the tall, green 1970s style bottles, the often sweet hint, and the arcane Germanic labels. Atkins is in with the "gewürz crowd". Bottle shape doesn't matter, and at least in Alsace the grape variety is clearly stated on the front. She celebrates its coolness, rich golden hue, unique perfume, Turkish delight, lychee and apricot flavours. She recommends: Asda Extra Special Alsace Gewürztraminer 2010, France (£7.87) and Domaine Paul Blanck Gewürztraminer 2010, Alsace, France (Waitrose, £13.99).

The Financial Times

We like our wine to be dry, don't we? Asks Jancis Robinson, MW. Unless, of course, it is unashamedly very sweet - which alas is a minority taste, she adds. The "supposedly" dry wines on our shelves can vary substantially in how much unfermented sugar they contain. Mass-market brands, such asYellow Tail, is famously relatively sweet. These brands are likely to notch up residual sugar levels of at least 5-6g/l. In general, inexpensive products - reds as well as whites and pinks, made in California, Australia, Chile and New Zealand - have notably higher sugar levels than Europe's "dry" wines: 3-8g/l rather than 1-2g/l. Consumers probably just want to know whether a wine is dry, medium dry, medium sweet or sweet - and many consumers will already be prejudiced against any wine not in the first category. This is a great shame, says Robinson, since many delicious fine white wines taste a little sweet. A German Kabinett and Spätlese, are low in alcohol, and are best drunk on their own. But whites such as the richer examples from Austria and Alsace, medium dry Chenins made in the image of Vouvray and Tokaji have quite enough body to accompany food and can be delicious with rich shellfish, creamily sauced savoury dishes and smooth pâtés.