Tom Cannavan's   

wine news, September 2010

Wine Gang Christmas Fair 2010!

The Wine Gang is thrilled to be back in London with its fabulous Christmas Fair on November 6th 2010 at Vinopolis. Perfectly timed for the run-up to the festive season, the mood of the event will be lively and fun and will focus on showing distinctive, quality wines. Over 600 wines will be available for tasting and the Gang (Tom Cannavan, Tim Atkin MW, Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon and Olly Smith) will conduct a series of free Wine Walks taking in some of their favourite wines. New for this year, there are also amazing masterclasses: tutored tastings by some of the world’s top winemakers:   
We believe this is the best wine event of the year – and the best value too. Early bird tickets cost £17.50 (use code EARLYBIRD), though Wine Gang members can buy them for just £15 (sign up for the Gang from just £11.99 here). You can add any masterclass for just £10 more. Book on or by phoning 0844 481 8898 (9am-9pm seven days a week).

Brown Bros heads south

Brown Brothers, the Australian family-run winery, has acquired Tamar Ridge Estates, a significant vineyard and winery in Tasmania. The acquisition will "complement the existing Brown Brothers portfolio by allowing the company to produce wines for the Pinot Noir category while safeguarding against the risks of crop failure due to global warming and drought." according to a statement. Brown Brothers Chief Executive Ross Brown (right) said: "The Brown Brothers board has been carefully considering how global warming may impact our vineyards. Tamar Ridge Estates is located in a cooler area and so we can reduce the impact of problems caused by potential drought and associated high temperatures. At the same time, Tamar Ridge Estates is a sound business that ticks all our objectives for growth in the Pinot and sparkling categories." Tamar Ridge Estates' brands include Tamar Ridge, Pirie, Devil's Corner and Coombend.    ross brown

Excellence wanted

The Academy of Food ∓ Wine Service, a professional body for front-of-house staff, has called on employers across the industry to nominate any outstanding and dedicated front-of-house personnel for one of its Annual Awards for Excellence. The winners will be announced at London's Innholder's Hall on 22 October 2010. The prizes include a two-day trip to the Douro Valley in Portugal; a trip to a New Zealand Wine Tasting in
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Berlin and a masterclass at the Sommelier School of Germany. There's also the chance of exclusive work experience at a top London hotel. To download an entry form log on to but note that eEntries close 10 September 2010.

Scotland's minimum pricing

The Scottish Government has announced that it intends to set a minimum price per unit of alcohol at 45p. A BBC report says that would increase the price of two-litres of Tesco brand cider from £1.32 to £3.80, while Asda whisky would rise from £9.20 to £12.60. The Scottish government says it would there would lead to 50 fewer deaths in the first year after the policy was implemented, a £5.5m reduction in health care costs and 1,200 fewer hospital admissions from alcohol-related conditions. Spokesman for wine and spirit industry lobbying group WSTA, Gavin Partington, said: "Setting a minimum price at 45p doesn't alter the fact that minimum
pricing is wrong in principle. It won't tackle alcohol misuse but will punish families on low incomes and pensioners. It's time the Scottish Government stopped pursuing an approach already rejected by Parliament and started working on a range of policies to address the root causes of alcohol misuse."

Decanter Awards

Decanter magazine announced its annual awards at the start of September, and I was delighted to have been in involved once again this year as one of the panel of judges for the Retailer of the Year awards. Congratulations to Waitrose who won supermarlet of the year for the second year in succession, and to the always inventive Berry Bros & Rudd who won the Innovation of the Year award. The full list:
  • Small London Merchant of the Year: Roberson
  • Small Regional Merchant of the Year: D. Byrne
  • Specialist Merchant of the Year: SA Wines Online
  • Innovation of the Year: Berry Bros. & Rudd
  • Wine Merchant of the Year: Majestic
  • Supermarket of the Year: Waitrose