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Wines in the Press Feb 7-8

Published:  10 February, 2009

A review of this weekend's reviews by the nation's wine critics

A review of this weekend's reviews by the nation's wine critics

The Sunday Times
Joanna Simon is baffled by Lanson's claim that its new 20cl bottles of pink Champagne are the perfect size for sharing. "I would have thought that expecting 20cl to stretch to two people was grounds for ending any relationship on the spot," she snorts. Other than size, she says it's "not bad, in a fruity easy-going way", though at £9.99 (Tesco, Sainsbury's Waitrose, Majestic) it's not exactly value for money. (A full 75cl bottle retails at £25.53). You'd get a better deal from the Real Wine Company who are offering De Castelnau Rose for £16.99 instead of £26.99 until February 15th.

Tim Atkin reports on French Malbec's attempt to make a comeback in the face of stiff competition from Argentina, with Cahors trying to make a revival as the "original Malbec". Something of a "hairshirt red", according to Atkin, "dry, tannic, and frequently acidic", it's got its work cut out competing with the south American newcomers whose wine is more in step with prevailing tastes. "

High altitude Malbec from Argentina has about as much in common with Cahors as my piano playing does with Alfred Brendel's" says Atkin. However, two Cahors wine he gives the thumbs up to include the 2006 Close de la Coutale (£6.49 Booths), and the "finer, more traditional" 2004 Chambrees, Domaine de la Bergangeraie (£12.95, Vine Trail).

Argentine Malbecs have the upper hand, in Atkin's opinion and the plantings, at eight times the size of those in Cahors, certainly gives them the edge. "Malbec-wise, Argentina is capable of a much greater range of styles than Cahors, from juicy no brainers to complex, age-worthy reds," he says. Try the "plummy, violet-scented" 2008 Trivento (£4.24, Asda); and the "stylishly oaked" 2007 Phebus Malbec Gran Reserva Mendoza (£12.99,

The Independent

While Anthony Rose doesn't believe the 2007 Burgundy vintage is worth sinking your life savings in, he says it merits attention for unusual reasons. Normally a great Burgundy vintage is thought of as red, but 2007 is all about the whites.

He says there are some good value white Burgundies which will keep for five years plus, and the wines of southern Burgundy's Macconais are "improving enormously".

The St Veran of Domaine des Vieilles Pierres, (£90, J&B), is, he says, "a case in point". While you can fork out £1000 for a case of Batard Montrachet, Rose advises against it. Far better are a handful of village and premiers crus such as the premier cru Vaillons (£103, six bottle case, HR), and Paul Pernot's "sexy" premier cru Les Folatieres, (£186, six bottle case, HR).

The Times

What's the point of decanting wine, asks Jane MacQuitty. She says that most modern wines have been so heavily filtered they simply don't need it. The only wines worth decanting, she declares, are those that are built to age in the bottle, such as red Burgundies, red Rhones and vintage and crusted ports.

And it's a myth that decanting wine hours before you drink it will enable it to breathe. "Wine is not a living thing and does not breathe," she points out. This week MacQuitty encourages her readers to get stuck into the 2008 Viña Maipo Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Sainsbury's down to £3.49) which she describes as "a bargain wine with gentle, floral, lemon zesty fruit and wide solo wine appeal," and the 2006 Banrock Station, The Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz, (£4.49 Somerfield). "This rich, fat, blackcurranty, 14 per center is a steal at this price," says MacQuitty.

Financial Times

Jancis Robinson is irritated by the continued use by some producers of "those ridiculously exhibitionistic" wine bottles that are extra heavy and extra dark. Not only are they an environmental disaster, she chides, they also pose a potential health hazard, both to those required to lift boxes of them, and drinkers who can't tell how much they've drunk until the bottle is empty.

Particularly guilty of this, she claims, are north and south American and Spanish producers. "Is it a macho thing?" she muses. And practicing what she preaches, Robinson has ensured that some wines she has selected to be sold in aid of the charity Comic Relief, have been shipped to the UK in bulk, and then put in easily-recycleable lightweight 365g clear glass bottles.

The Red Nose White, Chenin Blanc 2008 Paarl, is a "distinctly superior, bright-fruited dry white made from South Africa's signature grape," according to Robinson, while the Red Nose Red, Pinotage/Shiraz 2008 Paarl is a "really vibrant, even slightly subtle wine - also underpriced." Each wine costs £4.99 from Booths, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose with £1 going straight to Comic Relief.