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Fine Wine MagazineSporting a white-bearded Coppola pontificating on a red wine on its cover the Winter 2006 issue of FineWine Magazine is now available.

Fine Wine is a new magazine - a glossy 28 page publication that costs just 99p (plus £1.50 postage). It has attracted some fine writers for the opening issue: Robert Joseph looks at New Latitude Wines (Thailand and Brazil) while Andrew Jefford explores Cognac and offers notes on the upper bottlings available from Hennessy. The interview with Francis Ford Coppola is followed by 'The wine critics' critique'. This is 'Conversations with Jancis Robinson, Malcolm Gluck, and Anthony Rose about their philosophy and what they think of the other critics'.

The tasting section looks at fine supermarket wines. Asked to provide their 20 best wines the results are quite damning with a £19.99 French wine marked as 'badly made', a £16.99 South African wine as 'undrinkable' and a £14.99 Champagne as 'bitter'. In all they conclude that "This isn't a great record: one in five bottles that were very poor indeed."

Interestingly you don't actually have to buy the printed copy; all the pages are viewable on-line and are also offered in printer friendly pages - you can print your own copy!





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So what happened to the "old" Fine Wine mag? The one that was thick and heavy, with immensely prestigious writers, and cost half a fortune (and was only available on subscription?). Has it transformed itself from highbrow to mainstream or do we have to mags with the same name?

The other one is The World of Fine Wine (http://www.finewinemag.com/) - it is still going in its original format but now only produces four issues a year rather than bi-monthly.

A years subscription is still expensive (even more so now there are just 4 issues a year) at US$169 USA and Canada, £89 UK, Europe €139 and US$169 for the rest of the world.

Try reading or printing page 25. Impossible.

I just don't have any confidence in their reviews when they list wines without vintages, or without specifying which wine they are talking about. Just saying Springfield Sauvignon Blanc is not good enough when Springfield produce two distinctly different ones. And how about this

Spier Estate Shiraz/Mourvèdre/Viognier
South Africa (white). Oakiness in evidence, round, lots of taste, not very refined, good length, but here the grapes are ripe.
Excellent. £11.99 (£7.99), Threshers. 15

Well I presented that wine at a tasting last night and it was red.

At least I presented the Spier Vintage Selection 2004. (note no vintage given, also Spier is not an Estate)

The details of the wines are so scrappy and incorrect, the tasting notes so brief, I really can give them no credence.

Just to round out Andrew's comments above on The World of Fine Wine:

1. Yes, the magazine has become a quarterly, but at 216 pages per issue readers get exactly the same amount of content as they did from six 144-page bimonthly issues.

2. Yes, it is expensive, relatively speaking: the highest quality doesn't come cheap. But as to whether it's worth the price of entry, don't take my word for it -- read what the senior executive oenophiles on
erobertparker.com are saying about it: http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=114407)

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