Bringing you stories from the world of wine and beer.
Fiona Beckett asks can you still get a decent bottle of wine for a fiver?
And more to the point, should you? Her answer to the first question is, “just about” and to the second, “not if you want the winemaker to get a fair deal”. She adds with UK tax and duty now accounting for more than half the cost of a £4.99 bottle, and fixed costs consuming the rest, the producer is looking at mere pence per bottle profit. At least with promotions there’s a higher initial price and the hope that the producer will be getting a bit more. Difficult to resist is Asda’s Mayu Sangiovese, Elqui Valley, Chile (£6.98, on offer at £5). But if you want to salve your conscience and pay a bit more, Beckett recommends her perennial favourite: Château d’Or et de Gueules Les Cimels Costières de Nîmes 2008 (£8.99 therealwineco.co.uk) which she says is not a rip-off for either winemaker or consumer.
The Financial Times
Jancis Robinson MW, says Charles Chevallier, winemaker at Château Lafite since 1983, has a lot to smile about with the extraordinary elevation of his first growth Pauillac to most highly valued Bordeaux of all. But what really turns this genial oenologist on is sweet Sauternes and Lafite’s sister property Château Rieussec, she adds.
He is so interested in the under-appreciated treasures that come under the auspices of the Grands Crus Classés. Yet demand for the latest vintage of Sauternes, is sluggish. Robinson says there is a global malaise affecting sales of sweet wines in general which is such a shame as the best of these are some of the most complex wines known to man.
In the second part of Victoria Moore’s summer drinks special, she says the best thing you can do for a red wine at this time of year is to stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes before opening it. She’s not just talking about the lighter reds; the Cabernet Francs from the Loire, Gamays from Beaujolais or young, unoaked Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Red wine tastes turns soupy and indistinct if drunk too warm. Cooling it to 16-18C (61-64F) restores its sense of balance and makes for a much better glass of wine, she adds.
She recommends Gran Vega Garnacha Campo de Borja 2010, Spain (£4.17, Asda). Or the Extra Special Chateau des Deduits Fleurie 2010, France (£6.27, Asda).
Anthony Rose is talking about the Natural Wine Fair held in London’s Borough Market in May. He says the fair was “buzzing with anticipation”. The wines were supplied by Caves de Pyrène and four other importers and in Rose’s opinion “the overall quality standard was high, the character exceptional.” You don’t have to be either pro- or anti- to see that natural wine is a movement that’s captured the spirit of the age. And it’s not all about French wines. Rose says he tasted a “deliciously peachy”, textured Afros Loureiro Vinho Verde 2010, Portugal and he ended up at a table where a Sardinian producer, Gianfranco Manca of AA Panevino, had four distinctive reds for tasting without names. “They don’t really have a name as such,” he told Rose. “The dialect on the label tells you which corner of the cellar each one comes from.” Rose adds. “Who needs marketing when you’re part of the natural wine movement?”
With the vanishing of familiar high-street wine shops such as Oddbins and Thresher, Olly Smith says the internet offers an incredible opportunity to find great deals, learn about wine and broaden your palate. From your armchair you can research and discover more about wine across the world, compare prices to get the best deals and plan the perfect food pairing for your chosen bottle. There are also specialist wine merchants such as vintageroots.co.uk, focusing on organic wines, art- isanandvine.com, which deals in natural wine. Of course, there are pitfalls with buying online and Smith’s advice is to choose a reputable seller, check carefully for hidden costs and always read the small print on delivery. If you buy a mixed case, make a note of which wines you loved to make it simpler to re-order.
Courtesy of Harpers Wine and Spirit Trades Review