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Wines in the Press- May 4-6

Published:  08 June, 2010

The men in the Tuscan wine shop cheered when Victoria Moore asked for a Chianti without Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon in it.

Until 1984, it was not permitted to use Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah, but the success of the SuperTuscans, declassified to IGT status because they broke these rules, forced the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico to change the regulations, adds Moore.

"I've always preferred Sangiovese when it's bright, rasping and translucent, like a Filippo Lippi painting, unfettered by international varieties that seem to add padding and heft," says Moore. If there's just a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon Moore says it interferes less with the architecture of Sangiovese. She recommends Querciabella Chianti Classico 2008 (£17.09, 20 Waitrose branches and Waitrose Wine Direct).

There are some boring Italian whites around. They're not actually horrible, says Susy Atkins, but characterless, neutral and forgettable. Like a spritzer that has lost its spritz. On the other hand Italian whites can be spectacularly good: subtle, elegant and complex, beguiling and multi-dimensional, she adds.

Atkins advises to give the very cheapest bottles of Pinot Grigio, Soave and Verdicchio a wide berth unless you want to trade up to better producers. She also says to sniff out some of Italy's less well-known varieties that deliver more character such as Gavi, Arneis, or Lugana, from Lake Garda. She recommends; Marco Porello Roero Arneis 2009 (Majestic, £9.99 or £7.99 for two or more).

The Independent
The history of supermarkets selling fine wines is littered with bottles left unloved on the shelf, according to Anthony Rose, who kicks off with a damning critique of some retailers' efforts to roll out fine wine ranges.

"Marks & Spencer's Connoisseur range, Sainsbury's Vintage Selection and other attempts to package the idea of fine wine have generally resulted in much dust - a perceived attribute of fine wine - gathering," Rose says.

Rather than putting fine wines on shelf, Rose advocates the use of the internet to sell small parcels of premium wines. That's exactly what Tesco have done with the launch of its new Fine Wine range on As Tesco puts it, "it is not that fine wine cannot sell in store, it's that the space they would command in store is never going to be as much as the opportunity online".

Rose goes on to praise Waitrose's recent summer tasting, where he tasted a "cornucopia of excellent wines", all available online, but most in a limited number of branches. "Some are so good none the less that they're worth the detour: the complex 2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico, £17.09, for instance, available in just 20 stores, is a great Tuscan red with concentrated sour cherry fruit flavour, a hint of star anise and super-sleek texture," he says.

The Financial Times
For wine consumers, especially those who like hand-crafted, individual wines that express the place where they were grown and are sensibly priced too, Languedoc-Roussillon is the perfect playground, says Jancis Robinson MW.

For the region's producers, however, life is far from playful. "Sales are unjustifiably sluggish, while costs continue to escalate. Vineyard land costs are some of the lowest in France, which has encouraged an influx of ambitious newcomers, so there are hundreds of fine wines available," Robsinson explains.

The consumer also struggles to understand the region because of the vast amount of wines available, mostly in small quantities and from domaines too modest to have developed an efficient distribution system.

One of the most visible changes in the landscape of Languedoc-Roussillon is the dramatic reduction in area devoted to the vine, Robinson says, thanks to payments given to those prepared to grub up vineyards. And the strength of the euro has put yet another brake on sales of Languedoc-Roussillon wine.

But despite these problems, Robinson is adamant that the Languedoc-Roussillon offers "a delightfully wide range of grape varieties, many of them, such as Syrah, Grenache of all three colours, Mourvèdre and old stumps of Carignan - highly fashionable".

The Times
Jane MacQuitty's round-up of the top 100 summer wines for under £6 opens with some keenly priced gems, including 2005 Château Bellerives Dubois Bordeaux Supérieur from Majestic for £6.99.

"Côtes de Blaye has long been acknowledged as one of the best of the lesser Bordeaux spots, and in a great vintage like 2005 the quality is impressive," MacQuitty says. "So check out this two thirds Merlot, one third Cabernet Sauvignon wine, a seductive, supple, ripe, plummy, smoky-oaky, sandalwood-scented claret," she recommends.

Marks & Spencer's house white - a Vin de Table which retails for £3.79 - also features in the line-up. "This exclusive, zingy, lemon zest-spiked non-vintage wine, in practice a 2007, from regular M&S supplier Domaine Virginie in Languedoc-Roussillon, is every bit as sparky as the Gascon original," MacQuitty says.

This is the first time The Times Top 100 has featured wines selling for less than £6 wines in its cheapest category, rather than sub-£5, demonstrating the recent dramatic leap in wine prices due to the "combined assault of a duty increase and sterling losing value against the euro", according to MacQuitty. "You may grumble, but wine has hardly gone up in price over the past 20 years compared with other foodstuffs," she tells readers.