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Wines in the press- March 16-19

Published:  19 March, 2012

The Guardian
Fiona Beckett can't think about Irish whiskey without remembering her late mother-in-law, who used to get positively "apoplectic" if she was bought a bottle of anything but Scotch.

Back then, Irish whiskey was pleasant enough, but hardly set the world alight, she says. Two that really stood out for Becektt in a recent tasting were Jameson's Redbreast 12-Year-Old Single Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey (40% abv, rrp £40 and Powers John's Lane 12-Year-Old (46% abv, £45.95,), both made at the Midleton distillery. Beckett preferred the "less macho" Redbreast. If you want to learn about Irish whiskey, is running a series of events around the country, including in Leeds on March 21, Brighton March 31 and London April 21, she says.

The Observer

Patience is a virtue in the slow-moving world of wine, says David Williams. When R López de Heredia, (a bodega in Rioja) was harvesting the grapes for the most recent vintage Neil Kinnock was still looking like a prime minister in waiting, he adds. The 1991 Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva (£65, Berry Bros,, was released a year ago, and it was worth the wait, says Williams. Its methods of oak ageing, flavours and appearance are far removed from most modern white wines. Back in 1991, most white Rioja was still made with long periods in American oak. Things began to change dramatically from the 1990s, and for the most part, the change has been positive. The only place where Williams has mixed feelings about the new wave of white winemaking in Spain is Rioja. "If you're going to make fresh, unoaked whites, you need a variety with enough character to work on its own. Sadly Viura, Rioja's main white grape, is not that variety," he claims.

The Independent

The annual Bordeaux press and trade tasting week is now a "gravy train" resulting in a serious boosting of coffers of the greatest châteaux, says Anthony Rose. Despite staggering prices - they made money because the 2009 vintage was rated as one of the true greats. 2010 saw another great vintage, but further exorbitant price hikes left a nasty taste. Since the much-anticipated Chinese gold rush failed to materialise, Bordeaux has been left with egg on its face and wine in its cellar, adds Rose. The 2011 vintage looks like being "serviceable enough". But the pre-condition for buying pre-release should be that you get a great vintage at a price you'll never see again. Unfortunately, this isn't going to happen. He adds, Bordeaux 2008 is starting to look almost good value.

The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson MW says she has never felt "more excited" by the quality of English sparkling wine. Stephen Skelton MW, recently organised the second annual blind tasting of fine English (and one Welsh) fizz, and it was a heartening experience, she adds. The wines were generally extremely well made, with fresh, vibrant fruit and just the right amount of bubble. But there was one problem with many of the wines, however well made: they were just so young. The sad fact is that most producers are too young or too cash-strapped to be able to afford to give their wines more bottle age. And such is current enthusiasm for the potential of the downs and wealds of England as a competitor to Champagne that there is a host of new producers dying to test the market rather than give their first releases the bottle age they might benefit from.

The Mail

You don't need to re-mortgage the house toget a top drop - £20 will be ample, says Olly Smith. Independent merchants Tanners, Adnams, Lea & Sandeman, Berry Bros & Rudd, and Roberson Wine are all names you can trust. Plus online the choice is growing, from names such as to the artisan wines of or the "established excellence" of Their websites lay out quality recommendations to help you make your choice. If you're darting down the high street big-name options under £20 to impress are Rioja Gran Reserva from Spain, Syrah from France's Rhône Valley, Malbec from Argentina, or a "hoofing" Amarone from Italy. Or try the aromatic world of Alsace white wine, from producers Zind Humbrecht, Trimbach, Hugel, Ostertag and Kreydenweiss.