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Wines in the Press, October 17-18

Published:  20 October, 2009

What the wine critics had to say in last weekend's newspapers


Tim Atkin MW does his level best to deter wannabee vineyard owners from realising their dream of vineyard ownership. While he concedes that it is a "seductive" notion, he claims the reality is "a good deal less romantic". Having a good harvest is just the start of things. "Making wine is the comparatively easy bit," he asserts. "Finding someone to drink it is much much tougher."


But if you're still determined to go ahead, he advises budding winemakers to visit a few vineyards, and not necessarily overseas. "Believe me, if you can make wine in England you can do it anywhere." Then, sign up for a winemaking course, rent cellar space and equipment and buy grapes as opposed to owning vines, ideally in an area where growers are keen to offload their crop.


"Make half decent wine at a fair price and you have a chance of success," he says. Atkin admits to toying with the idea himself, but declares himself a critic at heart, rather than a winemaker.


He recommends the 2007 Bouchard Vin de Pays de l'Aude Pinot Noir (£6.08, Asda), and the "spicy, robust" 2007 Domaine Les Yeuses Les Epices Syrah, Vin de Pays d'Oc. (£6.99 each for two, Majestic).

Bob Tyrer mulls over the difficulty of matching wine with chocolate - and the pleasure in getting it right. "I didn't realize just how much magic the right wine and chocolate can bring out in each other," he muses.


After a trip to Argentina he recommends Argentinean Malbec as one of the grapes best suited to drinking with chocolate. "Chocolate seems to combine with ripe New World tannins, while the acid in the wine and the fruit in the chocolate play all sorts of magic with the taste buds," he enthuses.


He likes Michel Torino Don David (£12.95, Cavas de Gaucho), which he says is "fantastic with strawberry and balsamic vinegar in white chocolate ganache", while, the 2006 Maury Els Pyreneus, (£10.75, Bibendum), a heavy, sweet red "flies to unimagined heights with a little chilli and lime chocolate".



Following a recent blind tasting, Jancis Robinson MW is rather disappointed by the 2002 vintage of red Bordeaux, describing them as "ungenerous, with more acidity than average, and in some, but not all, cases some pretty austere tannins".


While no wine really dazzled, the St Emilions were the most varied, while of those wines from the Graves, those from the Pessac-Leognan appellation, Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere was particularly popular amongst the tasters for its "unusual succulence". However, Robinson preferred De Fieuzal, which she describes as "another over-performer" from this appellation and vintage, and very much better value. And with prices for this vintage being the most affordable this century, this could be the time to splash out.


Robinson says that a handful of wines stood out from the pack as being excellent buys, offering particular value for money. She recommends the Chateau Bernadotte which can be picked up for 7.8 Euros in France and for £12.95 from the Fine Wine Company of Edinburgh. However, she warns that Chateau Fournas-Bernadotte is the second wine of Chateau Bernadotte, and some retailers may confuse the two. "There are certainly bargains to be had from the 2002 vintage, even if there are few heart-stopping thrills," she sums up.



After a recent tasting of wines from boutique wineries, a first for the trade, Anthony Rose enthuses about their ability to offer small quantities of excellent wines that the big boys just won't touch. And with the increasing efficiency of the internet, it's often just as convenient to buy from these small wineries as from independent wine merchants, he says.


He commends SWIG Wines (, who used the event to showcase growers from both Europe and the new world. Their Yabby Lake Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula at £14.50, was matched by an "exotic" Yabby Lake Chardonnay (£21). Rose was also impressed by Colosanti, a small wine merchant which imports distinctive Italian wines. He particularly admired a "polished, beautifully oaked modern dark cherry and damson-fruity barbera" the 2005 Tenuta Olim Bauda Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza (£16.25), and from Le Marche, the "excellent" 2005 Piantate Lunghe Conero DOCG Rossini, at £20.65, "an ultra-stylish red made from the montepulicano grape in Ancona's Monte Conero vineyards".


How best to store wine when most homes nowadays don't have cellars is what's concerning Olly Smith this week. While wine is increasingly made for immediate consumption, there are some bottles which are nice to lay down. Smith says the key to storage is maintaining a consistent temperature, ideally around 11C. Attics are useless - too hot in summer, too cold in winter, and avoid direct sunlight.

While you could invest in a wine fridge, wines generally just need to be laid on their side somewhere cool and dark. Alternatively, you could have someone store the wine on your behalf. Smith recommends Berry Bros and Rudd's service, which starts at £10.80 a case.


Wines he suggests which are worth laying down include the 2006 Villa Maria Reserve Merlot Gimblett Gravells, (£17, Waitrose), which is "layered and multi-dimensional with rich fruit", and the 2008 Pechstein Riesling, (£25, Leathwaites), which Smith declares a "top tipple that already has plenty of fresh lime zing."