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Hallelujah for screwcaps; Raise A Glass.

Byline: By Laurence McCoy

WE HAD just spread out the rug in the ideal spot, overlooking the giant open-air stage where the legendary Leonard Cohen was about to weave his magic at the Big Chill festival in the heart of rural Herefordshire.

The grey skies had broken up and the high strips of thin cloud were streaked with deep pink from the setting sun, as intermittent paper lanterns floated serenely into the warm night sky.

The setting was perfect, the anticipation was rising - the perfect time to crack that bottle of wine.

Well it would have been, if we'd remembered to bring the corkscrew!

OK, it wasn't a total disaster: there were 35,000 people not too far away and one of them was bound to have a corkscrew.

So no need to push the cork into the bottle with a knife and squirt red wine all over your best picnic shirt.

Obviously, though, at that crucial time, a screw top bottle would have been the answer. As Leonard himself might have said: Hallelujah for the screw top!

And there is no shortage of good ones around. Perfect for picnics, for instance, is Torres Vina Sol, a light but fruity Spanish white with just 11.5 per cent alcohol, which helps avoid those crashing headaches from drinking too much highly alcoholic wine in the scorching British summer. It's widely available at around pounds 5.99 but it's down to pounds 4.49 at Sainsbury until August 12.

New Zealand's Villa Maria has been something of an early pioneer, bottling all it's red as well as white wines in screw caps.

Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc (widely available at around pounds 8.00) is always reliable, crisp and pungent.

For a summery alfresco red, perfumed cherry and raspberry aromas abound in Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir (widely available around pounds 8.50). A Chilean version, Cono Sur Pinot Noir, is full of soft, sweet strawberry with a hint of spice (widely available around pounds 6.99 but buy two and it's pounds 4.99 at Majestic). It's not only the New World that is taking screw tops to heart, however. A modern- style white Dourthe Bordeaux Sauvignon is fresh, leafy, grassy and aromatic (pounds 6.99 at Wine Rack and Waitrose).

For a flavour some red, Yali Winemaker's Selection Cabernet Carmenere has alluring spice, chocolate and vanilla (pounds 5.99 but buy two and it's pounds 4.79 at Majestic)

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LEGENDARY singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen; WINE Villa Maria
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 7, 2008
Words:418
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