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January 2007


Drink Italy


   Vinitaly is the annual wine trade fair held in Verona that many people say is the best and friendliest of the great world wine fairs. The 2007 event is scheduled from 29th March - 2nd April, with a new 12,000 square metre hall having been added to the existing facilities. Giovanni Mantovani, Director of the fair, said "There is also growth as regards international exhibitors, from France, Spain, Hungary and California, as well as producers from Argentina, Chile and - for the first time - from India." Mantovani went on, "We can already claim that the record of 4,200 exhibitors last year has been bettered."

Sweet nothings

five nothings to be precise, as a $1,500,000 is the price that was paid by an anonymous European wine collector for 135 bottles of the world's best known sweet wine, Château d'Yquem of Sauternes. The wines, housed in two bespoke walnut cabinets designed by Royal furniture maker David Linley, were sold by the London-based Antique Wine Company. The unique collection spanning three centuries includes every consecutive vintage of Chateau d'Yquem produced between 1860 and 2003. Not even the Chateau itself holds all of these vintages in its cellars. The sale attracted intense interest from some of the world's most prolific wine collectors when the assemblage was unveiled at a private tasting in London at a launch co-hosted by Pierre Lurton, president of Chateau d'Yquem, Lord Linley and Antique Wine Company managing director Stephen Williams. Bidding was said to have been "fierce, with potential
 
buyers from Japan, the USA, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Eire, United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg Russia and Sweden taking part." The most valuable single bottle of white wine currently available on the market is a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem 1811. It is also owned by the Antique Wine Company and offered for sale at a modest £50,000.

Phylloxera still a danger


   Phylloxera, the grape vine aphid that devasted European viticulture in the 19th century and swept through the Napa Valley in the 1970s, is still an ever-present danger for winegrowers and agricultural organisations. The latest outbreak of Phylloxera was confirmed in Australia's Yarra Valley just before Christmas, and is the only record of phylloxera in the Yarra Valley since vines were first planted in the region in 1838. The infestation is, at this stage, limited to an isolated section of a 32-hectare vineyard. Strict quarantine restrictions have been imposed on the affected vineyard and infected vines will be removed and destroyed. It is unclear how the infestation occurred. The Yarra Valley Winegrowers Association adopts a proactive approach to biosecurity of vineyards, and their President, Michael Matthews, said "We take this situation very seriously and the YVWGA will work with governmnet, growers and industry bodies to minimise the impact by determining the best course of action."

DP at the Lodge


On Saturday 10 March 2007 Summer Lodge, a delightful family-run Relais & Châteaux hotel in Dorset reviewed on wine-pages last year, is hosting an evening dedicated to Dom Pérignon that looks like a particularly splendid affair. The package includes a one night stay in the Lodge's extremely comfortable rooms, before an evening starting with a comparative tasting of four Dom Pérignon vintages. After enjoying a Dom Pérignon cocktail, guests will then take their seats for a special dinner created by Executive Chef Steven Titman. Preceded by canapés and an apéritif glass of the showcased vintage, each of the four courses will be accompanied by some of the world's finest wines, finishing off with coffee taken with a glass of Hennessy's extremely upmarket Paradis Cognac. The package also includes a full English Breakfast the following day - with a glass of Dom Pérignon as a high-toned eye-opener - and a presentation
 
bottle of the '99 DP in each guest's room. The price for this sybaritic experience? The answer is £675 per couple in a Classic Room. Given all that's included, that seems pretty reasonable. For further information contact Laure Pagès at Summer Lodge on 01935 482036, or visit summerlodgehotel.co.uk

biodiversity in the Cape


   Darling-based producer Cloof vineyards has been named as the newest 'Champions' in the Wines of South Africa Biodiversity Wine Initiative (BWI). The company joins Graham Beck and Vergelegen as holders of this accolade. Champion status is the highest form of certification from the BWI, and is reserved for producers who are exemplary in their protection of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Cloof has received the honour in recognition of the 610 hectares of Swartland 'Bulb Veld' and 598 hectares of Atlantis
Sand Fynbos that are under conservation on their farms.Producers eligible for the award must also prove their commitment to environmental responsibility, with factors such as their management of cellar waste water and use and storage of products for vineyard application taken into consideration. Having had an extensive alien plant clearing programme in place for ten years, Cloof and neighbouring Burghers Post employed a full-time conservation manager. "Just as the individual character of our wines can be attributed directly to the terroir found on our estate, so can the presence of the different indigenous flora in our area," The Cape Floral Kingdom is potentially under threat by vineyard expansion, yet is home to more native plant species than the whole of the Northern Hemisphere making it the richest plant kingdom on earth.