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Wines in the Press, January 10-11

Published:  13 January, 2009

The Observer

For the best, and most reliable Pinot Noirs, look to New Zealand rather than Burgundy, says Tim Atkin. "As every self respecting Pinotphile knows, when red Burgundy is good, it is unbeatable. The opposite, alas is also true. When red Burgundy is bad, it is unpalatable," he declares.


While other countries including South Africa and the US make good Pinot Noirs, only New Zealand can compete with Burgundy at every level. And Atkins points out that other countries should be concerned, as three quarters of New Zealand's Pinot vineyards are less than eight years old and when those vines mature, the wines are only going to improve further.


He recommends the "sweetly oaked, finely wrought" 2007 Resolute Pinot Noir, Winegrowers of Ara, Marlborough, (£15.99 each for two, Majestic); the "complex, restrained" 2007 Blind River Pinot Noir, Marlborough (£15.99, Waitrose); and the multi-award winning 2006 Wild Earth Pinot Noir, Central Otago (£17.99, Liberty Wines).


The Times

Cash strapped wine drinkers on the lookout for some bargains should turn to offerings from Spain and Portugal, which produce some "terrific" sources of both sub- £6 reds, and increasingly whites, says Jane MacQuitty.


What they lack in popularity, they more than make up for in flavour, she claims. Spain's cheaper, often Tempranillo-grape-based reds and whites made from the airen grape are both worthy of a punt, while the Douro is the place to focus on in Portugal. Italy too, has some good reds below the £6 price bracket, particularly from Sicily and the south.


While Australia is finding it tricky competing at this level, Chile with its cabernet and carmenre, and Argentina with malbec and torrontes can offer some great wines at this price. France too, can be a source of cheaper wines, particularly Gascony and the Languedoc. Two of MacQuitty's recommendations include the 2008 Palo Alto Sauvignon Reserva, and the 2007 Alto Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere-Syrah, (both down to £3.99 till Feb 10, Sainsburys).

The Guardian

Victoria Moore interviews Oddbins' new proprietor Simon Baile, and finds out about the changes he's introduced since he acquired the company last summer. After already ditching around 600 of the existing 2,000 stock lines which he inherited, he is already planning another cull, including the Oddbins Selection range, which Moore condemns as "dreary" and epitomizing "everything that had gone wrong with the chain".


Buyers are now being given the freedom to go out and buy what they like, and not just a couple of parcels a month; even if they can only source 900 bottles, Baile says he will put that wine into ten stores.


"I want the excitement factor; a sense of discovery" he says. So far Baile's team have focused their energies on France, a country which has contributed around 65 of some 80 new wines. Moore liked the "warm, bright" Capucine Vin de Pays de L' Aude 2007 (£6.99 or £5.59 as part of a mixed case), and the 2007 Chateau Malardeau Sauvignon Blanc Cote de Duras (£7.49 or £5,99 in a mixed case).


The Sunday Times

The upside of last year's cool damp summer has been lower alcohol wines from the less ripe, less sugar-rich grapes. This may not have been considered a benefit a few years ago says Joanna Simon, but recently there has been a bit of a backlash against heavy, alcohol-laden wines.


Whether that is because of consumers' growing health concerns or simply a desire for fresher, more balanced tasting wines remains to be seen, but producers had already started to look at ways of reducing the alcohol content by managing their vineyards differently. Some of these resulting wines that Simon likes includes the 12% abv 2006 Salwey Oberrotweiler Kasleberg Spatburgunder, (£11.60, Tanners) and the 2006 Ferngrove Riesling, also 12% abv, (£7.49, Oddbins).

The Independent

The wines originally made by the Marquis della Rochetta in the 1940's in Bolgheri, southern Tuscany, were initially derided as "filth", according to Anthony Rose. However, Sassicai, grown from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, has since gained a fine reputation worldwide.


Some of the most promising include the "spicy and succulently fruity" 2006 Insoglio del Cinghiale Toscana, (£14.99 - £17.50, Philglas & Swiggot, D Byrne, Portland Wine Cellars); and the "black olive, spicy, liquorice and bittersweet dark chocolatey" 2004 Piemonte Angelo Gaja Ca'Marcanda, (£62.65, Armit).


The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson interviews Peter Max Sichel, the man responsible for bringing Blue Nun to the masses in the early 1960's. This new generation of wine drinkers in both the US and UK loved the medium dry German blends that Blue Nun spawned, but by the early 1980's sales had started to slow as consumers became more sophisticated in their tastes.


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