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wine news, August 2011

Wine Gang Fairs - The Masterclasses

wine gang Last month's news announced the London and Edinburgh Christmas Fairs from The Wine Gang (myself, Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon, David Williams and Jane Parkinson). These all-day festivals have hundreds of wines on tasting and free 'wine walks' conducted by the Gang and tickets cost just £15 (Earlybird discount price). But the programme of masterclasses at each event is a highlight for many attendess and the 2011 series is now confirmed:

London: 1) Bollinger Champagne with Stephen Leroux, 2) Michael Chapoutier with Michael Chapoutier, 3) Bodegas O Fournier with owner/winemaker Jose-Luis Ortega 4) the icon wines of Yalumba with winemaker Jane Ferrari. October 29th, tickets available from ticketSOUP.com.

Edinburgh: 1) Portugal, Europes best kept secret with Tom Cannavan, 2) Magnificent malbec with Anthony Rose, 3) Key valleys of Chile with Jane Parkinson, 4) Think you know Chablis? Think again! with Martin Strauss. November 12th, tickets available from ticketSOUP.com

Douro Film Harvest

The Douro Film Harvest is an international film event held in the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Wine Valley, organised by Turismo do Douro, with support from the Port and Douro Wines Institute and the North Regional Development Coordination Commission. One of the DFH's prime goals is to mix cinema, music and fine wines in a "paradisical natural setting," by turning the cinematic spotlight on this unique winegrowing region, classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The 7-day celebration runs from September 5th - 11th 2011, and full details and the film programme are available from dourofilmharvest.com. This 3rd edition will have a major Brazilian flavour, including showcases of Brazilian films and fine Brazilian wines, and will be attended by veteran director Carlos Diegues and actor José Wilker.

Front of House Heroes

The Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS) is now seeking entries and nominations for its AFWS Annual Awards 2011, being held at Butcher's Hall, London, on 18 October. The Awards seek to recognise excellence in front-of-house and include categories for sommeliers, up and coming front of house stars, Company of the Year, College of the Year and the prestigious Dalmore Award for Excellence. This year the Academy has introduced a new category recognising excellence in the selling and serving of wine in pubs. Prizes include valuable educational travel bursaries and work experience at some of the industry's top establishments. Entry forms can be downloaded from the Academy's website at www.afws.co.uk .

Floral Notes

billboard Shoppers in London may be surprised to see a giant billboard made from living flowers outside the Westfield Shopping Centre. The interactive board has been created by "environmentally-focused" wine brand Banrock Station to mark the launch of their new special edition wines, proceeds of which will help Banrock Station work with Natural England to preserve 2,100 acres of British wildflower meadows. The billboard, made up of over 800 native British plants and from 14 different species, took over two months to grow and more than 12 hours to install. Simon Huguet, Principal Adviser for National Nature Reserves at Natural England said; "We are delighted to work with Banrock Station and thrilled at their support for wildflower meadows on our National Nature Reserves. Kate Thorn, Environment Manager at Banrock Station added, "We are always keen to support projects that share our philosophy of enhancing the natural environment and giving something back to nature."

Smartie Pants

iPad Turnberry Resort has become the first in Scotland to launch SmartCellar iPad wine and beverage menus. The increasing popularity for iPad menus in the USA was recently picked up in London, including at Claridges and Gordon Ramsay's Maze. The system is said to give guests "a colourful and highly informed choice" of wines, whiskies, beers and cocktails on offer in Turnberry's restaurants and bars. Ralph Porciani, Director of Operations at Turnberry, commented; "iPads have been used in this way in the States for a while and they have proven to be a wonderful means of enriching the experience of choosing from a menu. The ability to combine images, with more colourful information on background to the product, be it the wine maker or the grapes, is incredibly satisfying for guests and gives them a far more informed choice than the traditional paper menu could offer."

Moët's Vintage Look

label Moët et Chandon has created a "timeless new identity" for their vintage Champagne labels. The new look is inspired by the tradition of using chalk plates to identify the different vintages resting in the Champagne cellars. The new label will debut in the UK market in September with the vintage 2002 and vintage rosé 2002. The decision to replace the traditional vintage front label in favour of an artisanal style is meant to "reinforce the authenticity and heritage of the brand." Elsa Corbineau, Champagne Director at Mot Hennessy UK, says of the new label identity: "We wanted to convey the heritage and ethos of the house. The hand-written element is simplistic, but exudes class."