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June 2008

Young Wine Writer Award

Anyone aged under 30 and based in the UK can have a crack at winning the title of Young Wine Writer of the Year. Applicants should not yet have had a wine book published nor yet be an established wine columnist or regular contributor to a magazine, and the organisers say they are "looking for winewriting potential and commitment to popular consumer wine-writing rather than extensive knowledge or experience." Deadline for applications is 26 September 2008, and the winner will receive a £1000 travel bursary, plus a 14 day tour of Australia's wine regions. For further information on how to apply please contact Fiona Holman at Pavilion Books, fholman @ anovabooks.com or +44 (0)20 7605 1403.
  

Champagne Ambassador


   If you have a passion for Champagne and are currently educating others about the subject then entering the Champagne Ambassador’s Award could be for you. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has extended the deadline for entries for the fourth annual Awards to 30th June 2008 so there is still time to enter. The competition, created in 2005, is open to wine lecturers, tutors and teachers, and the theme this year is "the effervescent nature of Champagne." Three UK finalists will be invited to compete in the national heat held in London on 15th September at the Dorchester, the winner going on to the European final in Epernay, held over four days from October 20th–24th, competing against seven other countries. Last year’s entrant Tom Forrest commented, "The whole process was really enjoyable as well as a great learning opportunity. It was a very worthwhile experience; you gain insight and knowledge that can only benefit you and your students." Application forms can be completed online or downloaded from www.ambassadeurschampagne.com and must be returned by 30th June 2008.

Waitrose fizz sales soar

Still on a Champagne theme, Waitrose, the food shops of the John Lewis Partnership, says it is currently selling more fizz than ever before in advance of this summer's season. According to Waitrose, sales of fizz have soared by 13% overall. Champagne sales are up by a heathy 10% year on year. But the sparkling wine Prosecco is seeing even more dramatic growth, with sales up by 56%.

Master of Wine and Wine Buyer, Dee Blackstock, says "Despite the credit crunch, British consumers still want to retain some sparkle in their lives and they are clearly entertaining at home or picnicking with friends and family. The success story of the summer has been Prosecco which was often overlooked in the past. Maybe this has something to do its attractive price tag, as well as the fact that Britons have grown to love it during holidays spent in Italy."
  

Britain's novice drinkers


   New research by Hardy's has revealed that despite wine being the drink of choice for two-thirds of the population, our understanding of wine leaves something to be desired. Almost a quarter of regular wine drinkers think rosé is made by mixing red and white wines, and statistically, the group of 1000 surveyed would have answered more of the multiple choice questions in the survey correctly if they given random guesses. The research suggests traditional wine terminology is baffling consumers, with one in eight thinking a sommelier is a French perfumer for example. Hardy's says it is helping address this issue with an "interactive wine comedy show" it is staging at four locations across the UK during June 2008. For more information visit www.onelovesince1853.

Vinotherapy goes Hungary

Ever since the upmarket Caudalie de Smith-Haut-Lafitte opened in Bordeaux in 1999, there's been a rash of spas offering grape and wine-based treatments around the world. Latest to come to my attention is the Andrássy Kúria Hotel Wine and Spa hotel in the Tokaji wine region of Hungary. The VinoSense Spa offers treatments based around the anti aging properties of grapes and grape seed. The Spa says its treatments use "exracts rich in polyphenol, the active ingredient in all plants that is exceptionally concentrated in grape skins. Together with massage these help to eliminate free radicals that contribute to 80 per cent of skin aging." The luxury four-star hotel is located in Tarcal in the Tokaj foothills, around a two and half hour drive from Budapest, and is set within around 35 hectares of vineyards. A three-night Vinotherapy package' costs from £195 per person, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner, one vinotherapy cosmetic treatment, one massage, use of the wellness centre anda wine tasting session. This is based on two people sharing a double room. To book visit www.andrassy.hu.
  

IWC trophies

Having spent a few days judging the International Wine Challenge in London in April, I was impressed by the rigour and care taken in the competition. From over 8,000 wines tasted, just 267 were awarded gold medals, and the 90 in the table below went on to win a trophy. The IWC webs site will be updated with all the winners on 20th June 2008.