Tom Cannavan's   

April 2008

Berry's gets busy

Berry Bros & Rudd was one of the first British wine merchants to set up shop on the web, and their award-winning website remains one of the best. However, has just revealed brand new look, with new features and the promise of a simpler online shopping experience. In 2007 Berry's won "Best Online Merchant" for the sixth time, so launching a new site must have been a daunting task. The look of the site has been updated substantially without losing the feel of the original, and new features include in-depth producer pages, vintage charts and advanced search facilities. Luckily older features such as the wonderfully distracting set of quizzes and arcade-style wine games is still all there. The new site also promises to grow with "further content coming soon" including interactive maps.
Berry's E-Commerce Manager Charlie Bennett said "A state of the art website with 'podcasks', interactive maps, blogs and other exciting features is probably not what you'd expect of a traditional wine retailer, but, if we've learned anything in our 310 years, it's how to marry innovation with outstanding service and quality."

Constellation Hardy's

   The very well-known wine name of Hardy's from Australia will continue to appear on labels, even though The Hardy Wine Company has announced that it is changing its trading name to Constellation Wines Australia, effective 31 March 2008. Australian giant BRL Hardy was subsumed into the even more giant Constellation Brands of the USA in 2003, and this move to rename the Australian division is seen as refocusing Hardy's, as the brand that appears on some of the
company's products, as a more artisinal product: "It allows the Hardys brand to return to being a winery, known for quality and craftsmanship, rather than being known as a corporation," said President John Grant. Other brands owned by Constellation WInes Australia are Amberley, Banrock Station, Barossa Valley Estate, Bay of Fires, Berri Estates, Brookland Valley Estate, Chateau Reynella, Goundrey, Houghton, Leasingham, Moondah Brook, Omni, Redman, Renmano, Stanley Wines, Starvedog Lane, Stonehaven, Tintara and Yarra Burn.

Light wines

Companies across the wine industry have agreed to step up co-operation on the issue of lighter weight bottles. The agreement came at the close of a forum held by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) to address concerns raised by wine retailers and brand-owners on lightweight wine bottle supply. The meeting in London marked the first time the wine industry and its supply chain has come together to discuss what can be done to increase the availability of lightweight glass bottles in the UK wine sector. The meeting brought together leading retailers, producers and brand owners with the major UK glass manufacturers. Debate centred on barriers to the broader introduction of lightweight bottles, likely UK demand and the levels of commitment and capital investment required to answer industry needs. The forum agreed to step
up communication amongst bottle makers, fillers, brand owners and retailers, in order to build understanding of the challenges facing suppliers in obtaining lightweight glass.

10 Years of the Bordeaux Wine Festival

   The 2008 Bordeaux Wine Festival will take place from the 26th to the 29th of June on the quays of the left bank of the Garonne River, from the Pont de Pierre to the Bourse Maritime. Lovers of wine, food and culture from all over the world will gather in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a tasting pass (costing 13 Euros) includes a glass, glass case, tasting notebook and numerous tickets with special offers. Visitors can explore the wines from Bordeaux and the Aquitaine region at the new Pavillon des Appellations and Pavillon des Négociants, and for an additional 3 Euros, an extra glass and glass case is available for friends or partners. the Bordeaux Tourist Office is also promoting a two-night package including a double room in a 2, 3 or 4-star hotel that includes the tasting pass, a meal at Bordo Mundo, a vineyard pass, a free access card for 2 days on the urban public transport network, a guided tour of the city and free admission to the main sites, monuments and museums of the city. Prices start at Euro 185 per person. More information from

Romancing the vine

A new dating events company, launches in April with an event in trendy Bermondsey Street in London. WineDater is offering wine tasting experiences for singles at top-end London bars, featuring "carefully selected premium wines." WineDater says it "aims to help single Londoners find love whilst increasing their wine knowledge." Created and set up by Nicolla Greaves and partner
Nigel Littlewood, who both hold qualifications from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, WineDater evenings are balanced with equal numbers of men and women and start with a brief tutored wine tasting so daters are confident when assessing their wines. Then on to the main event which comprises short, relaxed dates with different wines to discuss. A prize is awarded to the person correctly identifying the most wines, but the real focus is on "fun and meeting like-minded singles." Singles wanting to book a place at the launch event can register for free at