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September 2006


Tesco Wine Fairs


   It is an astonishing statistic that Tesco claim to have 550,000 members of their 'Wine Club', seduced by the BOGOFs and deep discounts of their online store I imagine. Now, anyone who wants to can go along to Wine Fairs being held by Tesco in London and Manchester, where over 250 wines will be on tasting and there is the promise of "celebrity wine masterclasses." The Fairs are being held during the weekends of the 16th/17th September 2006, at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Victoria, London and the 7th/8th October at the Palace Hotel, Manchester. The ticket price is £10, but Masterclasses must be booked separately at £5 per session. See the Tesco website.


No more Promos for Oddbins

Oddbins have ended all price promotions on single bottles of table wine from 21st August 2006. Oddbins say that halting price promotions will enable a large proportion of their prices to be reduced on an on-going basis, and will "give a clear and genuine guide to customers on quality versus price." On the other hand, in what seems like a very attractive move, they will offer a 20% discount across their entire 'exclusive' range - which accounts for approximately 90% of the wines in store. Emma Nichols, head of buying comments: "This is a very positive message for us. We have always been at the forefront of wine education and by offering a genuine price for the wine, we are able to ensure that our customers can   
trust that they are getting what they pay for. The wine buying public is increasingly looking for real quality and by stopping promotions on single bottles we can offer a true price on a continual basis."

Rallying Cry for Rioja


   International rally driver, Carlos Sainz, has been awarded the 12th Rioja Prize and joins a line of famous figures to receive this award including Antoinio Banderas and Placido Domingo. Sainz was presented the award from the Rioja Regulatory Council in recognition of his love of the vine, wine and its culture. Born in Madrid in 1962, Sainz is the only Spanish driver to win the World Championship twice in 1990 and 1992. His competitive nature has earned him the nickname "matador" due to his determination and sporting successes both behind the wheel and as the Spanish Squash champion when he was only 16. Receiving the award, Sainz confirmed his love of wine in general and his admiration for the quality of Rioja. "The people of Rioja can be very proud," he said, "because your wines are leaders in Spain and a reference point for this country worldwide. I have always felt an ambassador for Rioja and feel that success is always guaranteed with your wines." Sainz has recently bought his own vineyard.

Death of a Legend

Sam Tolley, Chief Executive of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, has paid tribute to Len Evans, one of the best known and highly regarded figures of the Australian wine industry, who died last month at the age of 75. Mr Tolley said Len Evans was an irreplaceable and legendary figure in the history of the Australian wine sector. "Len Evans was a person who lit the fire of enthusiasm for table wine in Australia in the 1960s at a time when it was far from the minds of most Australians," Mr Tolley said. "His fervent passion for the industry infected many through his relentless campaigning for the industry to address a range of issues and his belief and excitement in education of both wine enthusiasts and the general public. Len's passing robs Australia of one of its greatest characters whose enormous influence as a wine writer, show judge, maker and advocate leaves an extraordinary legacy."
  

Pommery pomp


   Fizz-loving visitors with an eye for modern art might fancy a long weekend in Reims, where Champagne Pommery its hosting its annual contemporary art exhibition until 31 October 2006. This year's exhibition is called 'Supernova' and showcases the works of 38 artists within the grounds and 18 kilometres of underground chalk cellars. Supernova has been designed by Judicaël Lavrador, and is an installation, fully integrated into its surroundings. The cellars have been transformed into works of art, including a video created by the young Peruvian Armando Andrade Tudela, that features a Led Zeppelin concert in which the group appears to be performing at the bottom of a pink swimming pool. Supernova is open to visitors from 10am to 6pm, seven days a week. Admission prices start from €8 for adults and include a glass of Pommery Brut Royal. Further information and tickets from +33 (0)3 26 61 62 56, or email domaine@vrankenpommery.fr

Broadcast wine

'Viral marketing' is a buzzword in the advertising and marketing world, with attempts to use the community-based power of the Internet to shift product. One company setting its stall to do that is McGuigans wine, who have commissioned a four-minute film of wine expert Joe Wadsack talking the viewer through McGuigans Chardonnay and Shiraz, with background, a tasting and food matching advice. This was touted to me as 'free content for your website' by the marketing company who made it, presumably in the hope that lots of popular web sites would distribute the McGuigan message round a large audience, at zero cost. Well, I guess I've fallen for the scheme - this time - as
  
clicking the image of Joe will start the broadcase in Windows Media Player. That will let you make up your own mind whether it is a valuable free resource, or a bit of cheap puffery. Answers on a postcard...