wine-pages.com
Tom Cannavan's wine-pages.com   

wine news, June 2010

BYO Wine Club launches

Wine-pages own BYO list has been going for a decade now, and is probably the most comprehensive listing of restaurants who will let you bring your own wine in the UK, if not the world. But now partners Khadine and Christopher Rose have launched an intriguing new dining club called the BYO Wine Club, membership of which allows members to BYO at top London restaurants, most of which do not normally allow BYO, for no, or a very low, corkage charge. The couple's business experience includes working in the drinks industry for Remy Martin and Diageo, and co-owning restaurants. They say "BYO Wine Club has contracted with carefully-vetted restaurants to allow its members to bring their own wine or Champagne to accompany their meals for no, or substantially reduced, corkage fees. Participating restaurants can attract and retain wine enthusiasts, while   
wine lovers can share special bottles over a terrific meal." The club is taking applications now, and its initial list of 50 fine dining restaurants is promised to reach 100 by the end of the year. The £99 membership fee is reduced to £75 as part of their opening offer, plus they are giving all members a free bottle carrier worth £10. Visit byowineclub.com.

Win big in Berry Bros World Cup

As football mania grips the nation, Berrys' has launched its Wine World Cup - offering players the chance to win wines worth over 1,700. The fantasy football game can be played online at berryswineworldcup.com. Participants have to pick their team within a budget and with a fixed number of defenders, midfielders and attackers. Players earn points according to their performance in the FIFA World Cup, and the manager whose team earns the most points wins the prize. Berrys' football-loving Chairman, Simon Berry, says he expects the excitement to reach fever pitch during the month-long competition. "You can make changes to your team during the competition, but here's the twist: you can only select players from the 12 wine-producing nations." A unique mixed case has been put together that includes the best wine available from each of the 12 competing nations, including 2002 Ch. Latour, 1998 Vega Sicilia and 2005 Opus One. Visit the site to read the rules in full. Hurry: deadline to pick teams is midnight 10th June.   

Rising stars

All girl team, Heather McKnight and Jaillin Argent from one-star Michelin restaurant The Harrow at Little Bedwyn in Wiltshire have triumphed in the Champagne Jacquart Rising Stars Trophy 2010, the national competition to find the best young sommelier / chef team in the UK. Heather, 24, who is sommelier and general manager at the restaurant and Jaillin, 17, who is apprentice chef there, were presented with their trophy at the London Wine Fair by two of the country's top restaurant professionals, Gérard Basset, President of the Rising Stars competition and John Torode. To win the title the women
 
presented a menu and wine choice of Smoked Somerset Eel with Domaine Riefle's 2008 Alsace Pinot Gris, new season milk-fed Ceredigion lamb with Hawkes Bay's Bilancia 2006 Pinot Noir and, finally, Raspberry Soufflé with Champagne Jacquart's NV Mosaïque Rosé.

Laura Jewell MW - SPAR's star

SPAR UK's Wine Controller has been named Retailer Buyer of the Year in the Drinks Business Awards 2010. Laura Jewell MW was praised by the judges at the event, which took place at the London International Wine Fair. Over the past ten months Laura has been driving the transformation of SPAR's wine portfolio and attempting to raise its profile as a wine retailer. Jewell who heads up the wine buying team, joined SPAR UK in May 2009 with a wealth of experience in the wine sector, having previously worked as wine buyer at Sainsbury's and for wine agency HWCG. Laura has put in place the strategy for SPAR's Wine Project, a three year initiative aimed at building SPAR's credibility as a "wine enthusiast." The project also has the commercial aim of doubling SPAR's market share of the wine category over a three year period. The first year has already been "phenomenally successful" according to SPAR, with its Core Wine Range outperforming the market with 17.64% growth.
  

Heston gets fizzical

Heston Blumenthal's popular "Feast" TV series paid homage to the 80's recently. This was a decade of shoulder pads, Dynasty and conspicuous consumption - especially by City workers quaffing champagne. However in the cash strapped "noughties" Heston challenged today's city worker's taste buds to a blind tasting between an expensive Top Champagne, and a much more affordable option: sparkling Blue Nun. To add the sparkle, and in true 80's style, Heston "got busy with the fizzy" and used a Sodastream. The result? Over 50% of those who tried it, believed it was champagne. For those who would like to try sparkling Blue Nun themselves, the wine is nationally available with its price ranging from 4.29 - 5.49, and Sodastreams are available from www.sodastream.co.uk.
  

Bubbles with altitude

Champagne Taittinger recently carried out an experiment in their hot air balloon into the effects of altitude on bubbles in Champagne. The balloon soared to 10,000ft, its highest UK ascent, to study the size and speed of bubble formation at different altitudes and to taste the effect of altitude on flavour delivery. After initial sampling of five Taittinger Champagnes they were then sampled again at 2500ft, 5000ft, 7500ft and 10,000ft at wind speeds of up to 12 knots. The most obvious difference uncovered was that the bubbles got much bigger at higher altitude. Sensory Food Scientist, Margaret Everitt, who took part in the experiment, commented: "I thought that, irrespective of the individual Champagne, the overall aroma seemed to lessen and become softer with altitude. This might be due to the fact that, although the larger bubbles give an initial surge of aroma as they release the volatile compounds within them, the aroma is not maintained in the same way as with a steady stream of finer bubbles. The cooler temperature at higher altitudes, plus the fact that we were moving, may also have affected perception of the nose."