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Wines in the Press April 19-20

Published:  21 April, 2009

What our national wine critics had to say for the weekend of April 19-20


Victoria Moore's friend thought she hated all Italian white wine, until she realized it's not all Pinot Grigio. Or Trebbiano added Moore, who says, "Trebbiano is even more innocuous than Pinot Grigio, and I don't mean that in a good way."

This realisation that Italy has other whites may not quite be up there with Archimedes' eureka moment, but it is a joyous one, says Moore, as she focuses on wines from the north west.

Piedmont is famous for its Barolo - tannic, acidic, austere, she explains. And red. But it also makes glorious whites from Arneis, Favorita and Cortese (which is responsible for Gavi), while, just to the south, Liguria, with its rocky shorelines and tiny beaches, specialises in Vermentino.

For a good example of the latter, try Laura Aschero Vermentino 2007, Riviera Ligure di Ponente (£18,

Financial Times

Bordeaux's powerful consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt genuinely thought he wouldn't be making any wine in 2008 reports Jancis Robinson. "He was far from the only one to suspect that grapes so swollen by summer rains, ravaged by mildew and threatened by rot were unlikely to survive in any flavourful form long enough to be picked and fermented into wine," she says.

As harvest approached, the malic acid in the grapes was so high that they tasted more like cooking apples, explains Robinson.

Robinson also claims the wine commentators and wine merchants who descended on Bordeaux to taste the 2008 vintage did not expect to find such attractive wines, but, she explains, most of the reds are now tasting very well with succulent St Emilions and Pomerol on "better form than ever."

Although the performances of different châteaux vary considerably in 2008 she says, particularly among top wines, there seemed to be no geographical weak spot.


Jane McQuitty also talks about Bordeaux 2008 vintage as being the," the no-go area that economic pessimists feared."

She was likewise surprised at, "just how good some of the wines are."

The finest 2008 clarets are attractive deeply coloured wines with surprisingly sweet, floral and vibrant fresh red fruit ripe flavours, she says. But adds, "there were plenty of disappointments too."

She also explains that "how fine the slow-growing Bordeaux 2008 wines are," is causing heated debate and quotes Robert Parker, as letting it slip that apparently 2008 is better than the excellent 2006 and 2004 claret vintages and nudging the great 2005.

"Absurd," she exclaims. "Last year's is a miraculous, weather-defying vintage of just above average quality, made and saved by a small crop, late-season sun and a fruit-concentrating northeasterly wind."

This is not to devalue the best wines of 2008, she says. "I tasted some gorgeous clarets that were very good indeed, but, overall, while the vintage is much better than the lacklustre 2007, it is somewhere between 2001 and 2006 in quality."

"The big question now," asks MacQuitty, "is how the blinkered Bordelais will pitch their 2008 campaign prices."


If anybody knows a member of the Comité Régional d'Action Viticole, could you ask him to get in touch? Asks Tim Atkin,

When I say in touch, I'd rather the person in question picked up the phone or sent me an email, rather than use the calling card his organisation usually favours - small explosions and walls daubed with paint.

CRAV is an illegal organisation that targets anyone in the south of France who sells or imports foreign wine, as well as French wineries that are owned by overseas companies.

"It's hard to see what CRAV is trying to achieve," says Atkin. "And its call for more subsidies to prop up a series of under-achieving domaines and co-operatives is crazy."

On the face of it, these are depressing times for the Gallic wine industry, he reports. Recent figures confirm that France is still leaking market share like a splintered barrel and the situation is getting worse.

The irony of this is that France is making better wines today than at any point in its history especially between £4.99 and £7.99.

Try the sun-kissed, plummy, herby 2007 La Différence Carignan, Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (£4.99, 13.5%, Sainsbury, Tesco, Asda, Co-op).


The last time I saw Alvaro Espinoza, Chile's leading organic winemaker, it landed me in a mountain of steaming dung after his four-wheel drive got stuck and so we had to be pulled out by a tractor, recalls Anthony Rose.

He wondered if Charles and Camilla would suffer a similar fate when they visited him at Viñedos Emiliana Organicos in Casablanca recently. "No such luck," he says.

Espinoza has been one of the leading proponents of sustainable vineyard methods in Chile, Rose explains. Having latterly applied his skills to the production of a powerfully rich and spicy Syrah. "

And Syrah," he says, "is Chile's latest big thing."

My current preference is for the more elegant northern Rhône styles emerging, of which the pepper-infused, aromatic 2006 Matetic Syrah, San Antonio Valley, around £18, (Genesis Wines - 020-7963 9062),.

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