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Wines in the press - October 7-10

Published:  11 October, 2010

The Times

Tim Atkin MW, decided to cut down on booze for a while for the purpose of this piece on lower alcohol wines.

He started at the bottom by tasting 15 alcohol-free wines. What were they like? He says they are better than they used to be. "Either the technology has improved or producers are using better quality grapes, because one or two of them were actually palatable." But are they still wines? Not in his opinion. Atkin says if he wanted to avoid alcohol he'd rather drink fruit juice or an elderflower pressé. He adds rather than drink an artificial product, where the alcohol has been removed using reverse osmosis or a "spinning cone", why not buy a wine that is naturally lighter in body? There's plenty under 11% with Mosel Riesling and Asti Spumante being good examples.

The Guardian

Sommeliers get a terrible press, says new Guardian wine columnist, Marina O'Loughlin. She's talking about the stiff-suited, supercilious types. She adds fortunately, these days, you are more likely to come across a more "evolved creature: informal, approachable, frequently female, with a brief to sell you something you'll love." O'Loughlin say the best sommeliers take you on an adventure, at Age & Sons in Ramsgate, Harriet Leigh sold her a Triennes Les Aureliens Blanc 2009 (£9.95, Flint Wines) after she'd asked for something entirely different. But it cost half of her initial choice. There's now a case of it in her shed.

The Independent

Laithwaites and The Wine Society, paraded their tastings on consecutive days, but both couldn't be more different, says Anthony Rose. Theale-based Laithwaites (, with its aggressive advertising, to the genteel, non-profit-making Wine Society in Stevenage. Differences apart, both are dynamic, modern operations with first-rate wine buying teams, he adds. Plus both have spent time improving on the quality of their wine ranges. From the Laithwaites tasting Rose enjoyed the Domaine Michel Thomas Sancerre, 2009 (£12.99) and its value-for-money New World counterpart, the Cape's Stumble Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010, (£7.49). At the Wine Society tasting he said it was good to see how the D'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2006 (£11.95), had softened with bottle age into smoky-rich and cinnamon-spiced middle age.

The Telegraph

In a retrospective piece about her career, Victoria Moore says her economic situation had to improve a little before I could really start to explore. She was then captivated not just by the new smells and tastes, but also the realisation that she enjoyed the wine more when she knew enough to match one to her appetite, and to food that would make her sing. Here are some of the things Moore has learnt about tasting wine in the course of her "academic" studies:
1. Always wear black if you are going to stand near a spittoon.
2. It's easier to taste reds first and whites second (tannic reds demand more concentration and afterwards you can use the whites to refresh your mouth).
3. It doesn't take long to limber up to being able to taste 120 wines a day.
4. There are men out there who can stand 10 feet from a spittoon and blow a perfect arc of wine into it.
"And, perhaps most importantly, a good wine will always give you a lift. I hope my column does the same."

The Financial Times

After its starring role in the movie Sideways, the Pinot Noir grape seemed to become almost boringly mainstream, says Jancis Robinson MW. UK-based Gérard Basset, winner of this year's Association de la Sommellerie Internationale championships in Chile earlier this year - told Robinson how he now hesitates to recommend it, as it has become "too predictable". But three members of London's army of wine publicists and wine educators - Jen MacDonald, Angela Reddin and Kate Sweet decided to hold a blind comparative tasting of 65 New World Pinots. "And very fascinating it was, too." For Robinson, the first flight was the most impressive and she decided, correctly, that they were Australian. But she decided, wrongly, that the next flight was from California, when they were from Chile. For logistical reasons she tackled the fifth flight next and, having misidentified the Chileans as Californians and did the opposite. The last flight was very obviously from New Zealand, says Robinson. "Direct, very youthful and urgent. No smudginess. Bright crimson colours and sharp fruit." But she was a little disappointed by the flight overall. "Even if they were higher on average than our (relatively expensive) Australian Pinots, which, thanks to a few outstanding wines, notched up a higher average score from me than their Kiwi counterparts."