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Wines in the press, October 20-22

Published:  22 October, 2012

The Guardian
Fiona Beckett says a wine book has just landed on her desk. She uses the term "landed", as it is a 7lb, 1,242-page volume called Wine Grapes.

It's been a four-year labour of love by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and botanist José Vouillamoz, who have painstakingly catalogued 1,368 grape varieties from Abbuoto to Zweigelt. What Beckett found fascinating was how many wines go under different names. For example, the "deliciously fragrant, crisp", Bastian Rivaner 2011 that she had recently at 28?50 turns out to be the same as Müller-Thurgau, which you can buy for £8.95 from Tempranillo, has more than 20 synonyms, she says including Cencibel, Tinta Roriz and Tinto del Pais. As befits a book of such scholarship, Beckett says Wine Grapes is expensive (£120; Allen Lane), but it would make a fantastic Christmas present for any wine geek, and one that will provide an endless source of fiendish questions for quiz-setters.

The Daily Telegraph

Victoria Moore is looking at northern Greece, because due to the crisis, no one is quite sure whether they'll be able to sell the wine - and if they can, for what price. "Greece is a boiling pot right now," vineyard owner, Maria Boutaris told Moore. Moore says the modern age of Greek wine production is relatively young, having begun in the 1980s, on the back of a wave of investment that saw larger wineries buy equipment to make wine of the quality and a new generation of young winemakers begin to shake things up. But for some now it's a struggle to survive. Local wine consumption is down 60% and the market for wines costing more than €6 (£4.80) is down 80%. Many wineries are being forced to take a loss rather than lose the income altogether and doesn't help that half the wholesalers have gone out of business, or that the rest of Europe refuses to give credit on barrels, corks and glass bottles, all which have to be paid for upfront, says Moore. She adds Greek wine hasn't been as easy to get hold of in Britain since the glory days when buyer Steve Daniel filled the shelves of Oddbins with it. Moore would like to see more of it and for people to help the Greek producers by drinking it.  She recommends Domaine Thymiopoulos 2011 Jeunes vignes de xinomavro Greece (The Wine Society, £10.50), Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2011 Greece (, £13.50) and Hatzidakis Santorini Assyrtiko 2011 Santorini Greece (Waitrose, £10.99).

The Sunday Telegraph

Susy Atkins says medals sell wines, according to retailers. But should we customers take any notice? In the case of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), she thinks, yes. Atkins deems it to be a competition run with integrity and care and the awards should give confidence to people who want to splash out. Yet, a few of the big gongs also go to cheaper, widely available, affordable bottles such as Tesco's Finest Pouilly-Fumé 2009; Finest Gigondas 2010; and Finest Sauternes 2009. Atkins' only gripe is she thinks there are just too many trophies, and that IWC bottle stickers no longer always state a year. Awards stickers should be crystal-clear - one year, one award, for that particular vintage or blend - otherwise you wonder if the wine in the garlanded bottle is the same that wowed the judges. She recommends  Matetic Vineyard EQ Syrah 2010, San Antonio, Chile (John Armit Wines, £22 ) and Marksman Brut Blanc de Blancs 2009, Sussex, England (Marks & Spencer, £22).

The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson MW is talking about the amalgamation of food and wine and cites Alain Senderens, chef-proprietor of the three-star L'Archestrate and Lucas Carton in Paris, as being the first who used wine to inspire his dishes. He is now 72. But as "specially selected" wines by the glass become fashionable alongside dishes on menus, Robinson find herself cynically wondering how the wines were chosen. Real love and knowledge of both food and wine is still relatively rare, and she suspects in some cases the wines have been chosen because they look as though they might work, or because certain bottles are already open, rather than because the combination has been put to the test. Recently she encountered someone who has taken the business of matching food and wine to a whole new level. François Chartier of Quebec was a very successful sommelier who started to investigate the science of pairing. In his bestselling book Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine and Flavor, He says: "I would certainly need a good 20 years to scan all the foods and wines that are found on our table", and he intends to do so. Robinson says his suggestions include chocolate-dipped asparagus with lapsang souchong tea, and raspberries with nori seaweed, along with the assurance that all these combos have a scientific basis.