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Wines in the press - November 6-8

Published:  10 November, 2009

The Guardian

Rioja is rarely said to be "sublime", says Victoria Moore. But the odd thing about Vina Arana Reserva La Rioja Alta 2001, (£16.45, Berry Bros), "is that on first sip it isn't so much Rioja you think of as red Burgundy. It reminded me of one of the most delicious wines I've ever been lucky enough to taste, a 2000 Clos des Lambrays", she adds.

Which usually costs £60, says Moore. Her opinion is that the similarity wasn't so much in the taste as in the texture and concludes that, "this is the smoothest, silkiest, most fluid of Riojas. It has the same racy flow, that flawless rush, you sometimes find in Riesling".

Moore says, "It's fair to say it's the first wine I've ever tasted that made me see why some might believe that Tempranillo is a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc, a theory apparently disproved by DNA tests".

The Observer

Tim Atkin MW says he never fails to be surprised by the longevity of Clarets. "The best Clarets are in much better shape than I am. " He adds, he's also surprised about how light they taste. "Back in the 1960s, some of the greatest Médocs only had 11% alcohol.

Atkin says since I started writing about wine in the mid-1980s, alcohol levels have increased. But is now of the opinion the older he gets, the more he wants to drink wines that are "harmonious, refreshing and work well with food", rather than "pumped up, souped up, over-ripe monstrosities".

He suggests if you want to drink something at 12% or below then start with Loire Valley, northern Italy, the Mosel . But points out that he's excluding, "any wines that use technology (reverse osmosis or spinning cones) to remove alcohol, because they are invariably disgusting".

Atkins recommendations are 2008 J&F Lurton Sauvignon Blanc, Les Fumés Blanches, Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan (£5.99 each for two, 12%, Majestic).

The Times

Jane MacQuitty says winter finds her "cuddling up to a glass of sherry".

Contrary to popular opinion, MacQuitty says, sherry can be very food friendly. "The richest cream and Pedro Ximénez sherries are wondrous drunk with a slice of dark fruit cake, or poured over raisin and walnut ice cream."

She explains the drier, older amontillados turn a simple lunchtime plate of cheese or pâté into a meal, and sherry can and does go with soup," a culinary tradition beloved by the Victorians".

MacQuitty says "thankfully the sherry revival is slowly wooing contemporary drinkers". She adds,Sainsbury's now has four superior Taste the Difference sherries on shelf, including her favourite, "spicy, tangy, 12 Year Old Dry Amontillado and the finer 12 Year Old Sweet Pedro Ximénez (£6.49 50cl).

The Sunday Telegraph

Susy Atkins says, "you're armed with a fork in one hand, ready to advance on Diana Henry's fireside suppers, and now you need a glass of wine in the other".

She is trying to match flavour-packed dishes with ingredients such as chilli, coconut, beer and yogurt which she thinks all sound delicious, but are "possibly a wee bit unfriendly towards wine".

But on closer inspection she says the kayi korma has a "gentle, comforting appeal, with those soft vegetables and the luxury of creamy coconut". For which Atkins suggests an Australian Riesling or an Antipodean Sauvignon Blanc.

The Independent

Judging by Laithwaite's recent autumn tasting, "something for the better is going on", at the Reading-based branch, says Anthony Rose. "The buying team is stronger and more experienced than ever before and it seems to have taken on board that to compete with the Wine Societies of this world, you have to deliver not just bottles but quality at a reasonable price".

Rose says he enjoyed "the citrus-fresh zestiness" of the 2008 Pikes Prospector's Riesling/Viognier, (£8.99), and the "impressively full-flavoured, white-Burgundy butteriness", of the 2007 Domaine Dupré Mâcon-Villages, (£9.99).