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Wines in the Press - November 21-23

Published:  24 November, 2009

Sunday Times

A fear of heights put paid to Bob Tryer's youthful dreams of becoming a paratrooper. So he finds the experience of descending a near-vertical vineyard in the Mosel in a "flimsy, rackety, terrifying" monorail somewhat trying.

But it was almost worth it, he says, to sample Clemens Busch's new-wave German Rieslings.

The Buschs are based in the vinously unfashionable village of Pünderich in the Mosel but produce what Tryer considers to be inspired wines through hard work and "a touch of bio-dynamic mystery".

"His bottles are not cheap, but the aromas of sandalwood and flashes of fennel make these rare, dry, pure, minerally wines something quite out of the ordinary in Britain," says Tryer, who recommends Dr Loosen Urziger Würzgarten 2008 (£12.49) from Waitrose.

The Times

Thinking no one will notice if you empty that dusty old bottle of brandy into your Christmas pudding? Think again, says Jane MacQuitty, who warns "cheapskates" that spirits, including brandies and liqueurs, all discolour with time and lose their flavour.

Rather than a "cheap, fiery, oaky French brandy, with its varnishy flavours that taste even worse once it has been set alight", she suggests Torres 10 Year Old Gran Reserva (Waitrose, £12.99), which has a "heavy yet smooth, raisiny taste" and coconut finish from ageing in American oak.

Or maybe a French cognac such as H by Hine, "with its fine, spicy, floral, silky style (Tanners, £22.80; Waitrose, down to £18.99 from December 2).


Atkin is heralding the resurrection of Oddbins after what he thinks is its best press tasting for seven years.

He says the company has purged itself of the "backlog of rubbish" from Castel, and replaced them with some "first-rate purchases" among its 400 new wines.

He finds the return of small parcels, from which Oddbins takes its name, and a willingness to list more ambitious and unusual bottles particularly encouraging. And customers are responding, say Atkins, with the average bottle price now up to a "very respectable £7.67".

He recommends trying the "pear and apple fruity" Godello Alma de Blanco Moneterrei 2008 (£8.99), and "fresh, subtle, Burgundian-style" Cono Sur 20 Barrels Chardonnay, Casablanca 2007 (£13.99).

Financial Times

On the upside, a washout 2008 vintage in the Rhône means less savage tannins leave Jancis Robinson's teeth less "disgustingly black" after a tasting. But she's left with little else to wax lyrical about.

The "decidedly muted" wines - a result of a rainy 2008 in both the north and south - even left Robinson thinking some southern producers "just rolled over and let the shortcomings of the vintage wash over them and their wines".

Highlights come from biodynamic producer Chapoutier, who might have found the "magic formula for making unusually dense, healthy, vibrant wines in 2008", says Robinson, while Michel Tardieu of Tardieu-Laurent, based in the Lubéron, made an "uncannily supple" and "completely atypical red Hermitage", which she found lovely.

Her conclusion from the 2008 tasting? Sensible buyers will "stock up on the exceptional 2007s while they wait for the eagerly anticipated 2009s".


Victoria Moore is delighting in what she reckons is the best sub-£5 wine she's tasted all year: the "easygoing" Languedocan Les Crouzes Old Vines Carignan Alain Grignon Wines 2008 (£4.99, The Co-op).

But what's tickling her most about this "unboring multitasker" is that it's made from Carignan - a grape she describes as funny and underated, but unfortunately often the base for bad wines made in the south of France from high-yielding, under-ripe fruit.

She says Gringon's wine is different. "It doesn't have the dirt and dust of an old-school Vin de Pays - instead, it treads a middle way. It's a lucid, modern wine with character", with 40-year-old vines helping to add "depth and detail".

Another good one, she thinks, is La Différence Carignan 2008 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes (£5.48, Tesco). "Also a modern incarnation, with an open structure and a spreading, brambly taste reminiscent of primitivo."