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April 2007


Bordeaux château declassifies


   In an unusual move one Bordeaux chateau has decided to declassify itself from a lesser known - but traditionally esteemed - appellation, and increase production of its most popular wine. As of the 2006 vintage, Chateau Canon de Brem in Canon-Fronsac will be declassified and amalgamated with the production of Chateau la Dauphine in Fronsac, bucking the normally rigid appellation policy adhered to in Bordeaux. Traditionally Canon-Fronsac is seen as the more prestigious of the two appellations (Fronsac and Canon Fronsac are both just west of Saint-Emilion) but the chateau has decided to put clarity for consumers ahead of local prestige. "Every year Chateau La Dauphine sells out, but we still have stock of Canon de Brem," said Guillaume Halley, the 29-year-old owner of La Dauphine and director of a Bordeaux supermarket. "Both La Dauphine and Canon de Brem are produced with the same amount of care and attention, and given equal amounts of
investment and marketing, so clearly the difference in sales must have something to do with the label," Halley said. "Quite simply, what we want to do is improve the quality of our wine and make life more straightforward for our consumers. Telling visitors and consumers that technically our 'best wine' was Canon de Brem confused our overall message. We have decided to keep it simple," Halley said.

It's Chile in Glasgow

Exciting news for Scots, in that Wines of Chile, the generic body for Chilean wines, is bringing its trade/press and consumer roadshows back to Glasgow for the first time in many years. The events are on May 10th at the Lighthouse, just off Buchanan Street in the city centre. The trade and press event runs from noon to 6.00pm, followed by the evening for consumers from 6.00 - 9.00pm. Over 200 wines are on tasting, including many from Chile's exciting new regions like Elqui in the north to Bio Bio in the south, and the ticket price is just 10. Contact info@winesofchile.org.uk for tickets. Watch this space for further information on the Regional Trade Tastings in Belfast, Bristol and Manchester.
 

Ice over easy


   Improbable though it sounds, the very active marketing brains at South Africa's Stormhoek are hoping for a double-whammy by cashing in on the current fashion for pink wines and dodgy cider served over ice. They will soon release 'Couture', a rosé that they claim is actually designed to be at its best when poured over ice. Stormhoek claims their "secret recipe" means the wine won't taste diluted by the ice. The wine - a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon - launches in June, in a major retailer, at an RRP of £6.99. It is also being made available draught on tap for the on-trade.

A good year

Monday May 7th sees the DVD release of Ridely Scott's 'A good year', an adaptation of Peter Mayle's Provence-based story. The film tells of cocky and successful city slicker Max Skinner, who fresh from his latest seven-figure deal, receives news that his uncle has died leaving him his southern French wine estate. In Provence, Max begins to recall summers spent there as a boy, and just as his career in London falters due to a dodgy scam, the Provençal magic begins to work its charms. The film is beautifully shot, and whilst I found Russel Crowe woefully miscast as Max, Albert Finney as his uncle is a star turn and there's plenty of wine talk to bolster a rather mundane script.
 

City Winery


   Signal Hill has opened a unique winery in the historic heart of Capetown, South Africa. The boutique winery Signal Hill, driven by Frenchman Jean Vincent Ridon, has opened the 900 sqm winery, with restaurant in the barrel cellar, in the centre of the metropolis. Signal Hill has moved all its production facilities to the new premises, to create a "unique interactive experience." No part of the winery is hidden, and visitors can see everything from crushing the grapes to bottling. "The idea came when I was in charge of the Clos Montmartre in Paris in 2001," said Ridon. "I realised how much urban wine lovers wanted to see the mystic process of winemaking." This unique tourist attraction is quickly becoming a landmark
in Capetown, as trucks unloading crates of grapes is attracting crowds of visitors. Signal Hill winery is open daily for tasting, light meals and free wine tours. Contact info@winery.co.za.

sea of wine

Specialist cruise holiday company Spirit of Adventure has just announced a series of wine-themed cruises over summer 2007. Itineraries under the supervision of David Bird and other wine specialists will include The Vineyards of Spain & Portugal, The Wines of La Rioja & Bordeaux, Port Lodges and Sherry Bodegas and Traditions of Spain. Crusises depart from July through August, and prices start from £1,139 per person for a 10 night cruise. Details from spiritofadventure.co.uk.
 

removing wine mystique


  A study into the attitudes of 20-25 year olds to wine emerged from an international focus groups commissioned by the VINEXPO wine and spirits exhibition. The research was conducted in the UK, Belgium, France, USA and Japan, and shows that wine does not have a young image for this age group. The classic wine drinker is seen by them to be 30-45, educated, refined, more mature and knowledgeable about alcohol. To encourage greater wine appreciation among their age group, they suggest winemakers and retailers make a bigger effort to interest young adults and tackle wine's complex image. Respondents said
they want wine as a product to be light, fruity and refreshing. In packaging there is a clear division between Europe - where the groups liked traditional bottles and labels - and the USA/Japan, where young adults want an entirely new kind of presentation with different bottle shapes and colours.