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Wines in the press June 29- July 2

Published:  02 July, 2012

The Guardian
There are two French descriptions of wine that are really useful but have no exact equivalent in English, says Fiona Beckett.

They are; vin de soif and vin des copains - the translations are respectively, a thirst-quenching wine and a wine for friends. Yet, neither carries the same resonance of an easy-drinking bottle that you can knock back with virtually anything and don't have to think about too deeply about, she adds. Beckett tasted one on holiday in the Languedoc; Mas Coutelou 7 rue de la Pompe Syrah, from Mas Coutelou, (on offer £8.45 at Robersons). However, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are grape varieties you associate with a more serious, structured style. But the Montgravet Cabernet Merlot 2011 (£4.99 at Waitrose) most definitely qualifies as a vin des copains for its sheer versatility and knocks spotsoff many a sub-£10 Bordeaux, she says.

The Telegraph

At the recent Tesco tasting Victoria Moore overheard someone saying: "If you value your taste buds, ignore that table." The table was 11 bottles of low-alcohol "wine-style drinks" ranging from 0 to 5.5% abv. She says anti-drinking publicity may have lodged in consumers minds they perhaps ought to cut down. And they may be to believe those bottles sprouting up in supermarkets (not just Tesco) that look like wine and have the names of recognisable grapes are a magic solution. Think again, says Moore. Despite a huge investment in techniques to de-alcoholise wine, or create lower-alcohol wine-like drinks, she can see no reason to even consider buying these "depressing liquids". She lists First Cape Light Pinot Grigio NV Italy (5.5%) as "mind-blowingly vapid", JP Chenet light Colombard Chardonnay 2011 France (5.5%) "a struggle" and Fairhills Fair & Light Rosé NV (5.5%) "like strawberry chews dissolved in a little white wine with water added". Moore says if you want to cut down, add water to your wine "a good wine diluted 50:50 is much tastier than any de-alcoholised wine-style drink." Alternatively, she's found two wines that have been "carefully tweaked" to reduce their alcohol content, and which she thinks have succeed in still tasting like wine. She recommends Dr L Riesling 2011 Germany (Sainsbury's, £7.39) and Jacob's Creek Cool Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Australia (10.5% Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda and Ocado, rrp £8.49).

The Financial Times

Wine producers of Alsace are starting to be seriously worried about the competition posed by Germany's new generation of dry wines, according to Jancis Robinson MW.
For a long time Alsace vintners had the dry Riesling field to themselves, but now that German summers are warmer, and fashion has led Germans to see sweetness as a cardinal sin. Germany is now the source of a significant amount of top-quality dry (trocken) Riesling, including some particularly sought-after examples labelled Grosses Gewächs, she says. It means the Alsatians are feeling the need to put a very obvious stake in the Riesling sand being its most planted and revered variety. The result, says Robinson was La Journée du Riesling, where 56 Alsace showed off their finest Rieslings to media, trade and public where Robinson was in "Riesling heaven". According to Jacky Barthelme of Domaine Albert Mann, the UK market was "superb" for Alsace wines 15 years ago but New World wines got in the way. This is a shame, says Robinson because Alsace can offer some real bargains. She cites Rolly Gassmann, who holds on to its wines for an extraordinarily long time and doesn't plan to release its Kappelweg Riesling 1990 until 2014. Plus it asks only €19 a bottle from the cellar for its "delicious" Plaenzerreben Riesling 1997, she says.

The Mail on Sunday

Sake is a new frontier for any wine lover, says Olly Smith. He remembers his first encounters in top Japanese restaurants and wishing that he knew more so he could order with confidence. You can, of course, find sake in supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose, but it's in specialist drink stores that this splendidly diverse drink is set free, he adds. The flavours of sake can range from delicate, fresh and light to sweet through to more savoury dark and rich. But what all sakes have in common, is a subtle umami taste, which makes it an absolutely impeccable drink to pair with food, he adds. As far as lighter sake goes, nothing pairs better with shellfish, fish and the subtle textures of sashimi.
The Book Of Sake by Philip Harper opened his eyes to the world of this "brilliant beverage". He says if you're really serious about it, check out