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Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com   

May 2007


Tastingbuddy for addicts


   Re-labelling the mobile email device Blackberry as "Crackberry" is a witty comment on the addictive nature of these little machines - and I should know! Now, the boffins behind the TastingBuddy tasting note software for PDAs have developed a Blackberry version which I have installed and used successfully. The software looks and feels the same as in other versions, and synchronises effortlessly both with TastingBuddy's web site (where the notes you record can be stored, sorted and shared) and with the Blackberry desktop manager. But what's more important, the usefulness of TastingBuddy is now really being enhanced by the impressive range of tasting events for which you can pre-load the software with categorised lists of wine. So for those attending last month's big Bordeaux tasting organised by Bibendum, for example, all the wines on tasting could be added to the device in one click. See tastingbuddy.com.

On your bike!

The Chain Gang is a holiday company specialising in cycling tours through some of the most beautiful vineyard country in France and Italy. They have just annouced new itineraries with an emphasis on how enjoyable their holidays can be for single travellers. With two out of three travellers just as likely to enjoy a holiday alone these days, The Chain Gang owner Bernard Dugdale explains "We're often asked who else will be on the trips, what age range will there be, and is it all couples on our trips? We've been running tours for 10 years now, and in reality these questions are the wrong ones. The real question is 'are there at least 8 other people going?'. If the answer's yes, it doesn't matter what age or sex people are, or whether they're with friends, partner or on their own. As soon as a group
 
has 8 people or so, it's always magic." The Chain Gang's 2007 season of tours begins on June 16th and continues through to October 6th, with trips to The Dordogne, the vineyards of Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, Burgundy and Provence in France, as well as Tuscany and Umbria in Italy. The itineraries are carefully designed to present a good day's ride, with plenty of interest by way of vineyards, chateaux, beauty spots and historical sites. More information at thechaingang.co.uk.

Destination wine harvest


   For anyone who has ever wondered exactly how a bottle of wine is produced, Bordeaux’s Ecole du Vin offers a practical answer. A new course 'Destination Wine Harvest' has been introduced to their programme. Described as "an interactive trip for wine lovers to experience the wine harvest first hand," the two-day course is spent participating in the wine harvest, picking the grapes and learning about the winemaking process. Following the grapes from the vines to the vat room; working at the sorting table; observing the first fermentation and tasting the wines throughout the different vinification stages, this might be the perfect initiation for wine enthusiasts. The course begins with an introductory session in the Ecole du Vin in the heart of Bordeaux city, before heading out to the Sauternes and Médoc regions to start work. The courses will take place on 22nd-23rd September and 6th-7th October and cost 450€ per person (based on double occupancy). See ecole.vins-bordeaux.fr.

Taittinger Collection


Champagne Taittinger has added a new artist to its growing Taittinger Collection of specially commissioned Vintage Champagne bottles designed by world famous artists. Robert Rauschenberg is the latest artist to be commissioned by Taittinger to create a limited edition bottle, this time for the company's 2000 Vintage. The new bottle will be released in May and interested collectors should contact Champagne Taittinger directly, via their website, or their UK agent Hatch Mansfield. The bottle is expected to sell for RRP £145 and will also be available through selected independent wine merchants. One of the founding fathers of 'Pop Art', Rauschenberg was born in 1925 and came to prominence in the '60s. Stockist information from Hatch-Mansfield on 01344 871 800.
 

cool Champagne


   Following last month's news item on a new rosé wine designed for pouring over ice, Piper-Heidsieck is promoting a flamboyant new way of enjoying its Champagne this summer. 'Piper-Heidsieck Piscine' (French for swimming pool) is Champagne poured over ice and is apparantly sweeping through the UK (according to Piper-Heidsieck's marketing people) from its origins in the pavement cafés of the French Riviera. Some UK bars will be offering limited edition, red Piper-Heidsieck Piscine stemmed glass designed to hold four or five ice cubes and a regular measure of champagne. For home consumers, Piper-Heidsieck recommends freezing some ice cubes made from Champagne and adding them generously to the glass.

Grazing through Jerez


'Grazing' is a foodie trend that has sprung from the Spanish tradition of Tapas, with many UK restaurants offering 'grazing menus' of a dozen small tidbit portions. Exponents include Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett and Heston Blumenthal, and it is the latter who introduces 'The Perfect Marriage', a new recipe book that features cuisines from around the world adapted to tapas style of eating. But the Spanish influence remains strong as this is also a food and wine-matching guide, focusing entirely on Sherry in its various forms - seen as an ideal match for this kind of eating. Some of the most interesting chefs in Britain have contributed five recipes each to the book, which is nicely illustrated and designed. Published by Simon & Schuster at £12.99, and available from Amazon for £8.44.