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October 2009

Everywine relaunches

Online retail site www.everywine.co.uk was a fantastic idea when it launched back in 1999, promising to be able to supply everywine available in the UK. Unfortunately the concept never really grabbed the public imagination, largely because all wines were limited to full-case purchases and because the web site was, frankly, a bit of a dog's dinner. Now Everywine (actually an arm of the excellent Booths supermarket chain) has
  
relaunched with a fresh new site offering more than 33,000 wines in cases and single bottles. It is now possible to mix your own case with the range of Booths wines, there's vastly improved searching and special offers along with a slicker checkout process. A 'winefinder' service will identify and source wines you may have tried in a restaurant or abroad. Operations director Stephen Dowd says: "Despite the recession, we are bucking the trend with sales continung to grow. The changes we've made enable us to communicate more effectively with our customers, but we have lots more plans for new facilities."

the secret of Champagne: West Bromwitch

It's nice to know that West Bromwich is playig a crucial role in France's most famous - and most carefully protected - wine region. The West Brom-based Hadley Group, Europe's largest privately owned cold rolled steel manufacturer, is celebrating the groundbreaking achievement of becoming the first British company to secure a contract to supply steel vine support pickets into the Champagne vineyards in Epernay. The first order for over 100,000 metres of their innovative UltraPIQUET™ vine pickets has been brokered by Hadley Group's French Sales Manager Yves Rigomont, and despatched from the West Midlands. Rigomont (left of picture) said,"The Champagne market is very traditional, with
 
an overwhelming majority of local suppliers. The Hadley Group has developed the product for C.S.G.V. (Cooperative Du Syndicat General Des Vignerons)." The UltraSTEEL™ process ensures that the vine pickets are lighter yet 20% stronger than plain steel pickets, so is 'greener' too. Hadley Group's Marketing Director, Bob Dunthorne (right of picture) added, "This is our latest agricultural application for the UltraSTEEL™ process, and it is suitable for the many new, automated processes that are deployed in vineyards."

Ornellaia goes large

On Saturday 10 October a unique Salmanazar bottle (9 litres) of Ornellaia 2006, with a specially designed label by Luigi Ontani, one of Italy's most respected contemporary artists, was auctioned at the Gelardini & Romani auction house in Rome. The unique bottle was purchased by Giorgio Pinchiorri, owner of the three star Michelin Restaurant 'Enoteca Pinchiorri' in Florence, which has one of the restaurant world's greatest collection of Italian and world wines. The bottle, whic sold for 17,000 Euros, is part of Ornellaia's Vendemmia d'Artista project, to reestablish the Renaissance concept of artistic 'patronage', by creating a tight bond between wine and art through the works of internationally renowned artists. To interpret the 2006 vintage of Ornellaia, which resulted in a wine of an "exuberant" nature, Luigi Ontani created four ceramic sculpture-fountains representing the four seasons and placed them in the entrance to the
  
winery. Ontani designed and signed the labels of a limited series of large size bottles of Ornellaia 2006 which will appear in wine auctions from London to New York, both at Christies and Sotheby's. The proceeds of the Rome sale were donated to the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan and will fund the restoration of Previtali's "Ritratto D'Uomo - Memento Mori" (1502).

Genetics out-foxes American vines

German researchers have uncovered new details about the heredity of Vitis varieties in cultivation today. In the process, they have opened the way to more meaningful classification and accelerated breeding of grapevines, and may point the way toward production of European-tasting wines from North American cultivars, free of the "foxy" aromas and flavours associated with these Vitis labrusca vines. A century ago, post-Phylloxera, many hybrids were in use, but the wine they produced was judged to be so inferior that most have since disappeared. Now, a collaboration between the Technische Universität München in Bavaria and the JKI Institute for Grapevine Breeding in the Pfalz has concluded that a specific gene might be responsible for the poor, "musty" aroma of the North American varieties, and a detailed description of the methods and results has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food   
Chemistry. Professor Wilfried Schwab of TUM isolated and cloned DNA sequences, rewriting specific parts of the genetic code, in research that could lead to the development of more accurate classification tools and effective breeding methods that could enable American species and cultivars to produce European-tasting wines, free of those "foxy" flavors.

La Tour d'Argent

The French auctioneer PIASA will offer "an exceptional selection of wines" for sale from the caves of La Tour d'Argent, one of France's most revered restaurants on December 7 and 8, 2009. The selection of 18,000 bottles from the 450,000-bottle-strong cellar has been chosen by Head Sommelier David Ridgway and "pays homage to France's profoundly diversified and rich wine tradition as bottles from the most famous Châteaux will be offered alongside wines from excellent but far less well known origins." Acquired directly from the Châteaux or producers, all carry the La Tour d'Argent stamp, and
  
present an opportunity to purchase wines from a cellar whose "provenance and quality is second to none." Estimates vary from several hundred to several thousand Euros per lot. Full details: www.piasa-latourdargent.fr.