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wine news, October 2011

Wine Gang Fair in London

wine gang The Wine Gang's 3rd Christmas Fair in London (October 29th at Vinopolis, Bank End) is very close to a sell-out with a couple of dozen tickets left for sale. There's an extraordinary line-up of 600 wines available to taste, priced from £5.99 to £105.00! Earlybird tickets (£15, full price £20) are available for another five days (whilst stocks last) and buy the chance to taste over £10,000 worth of wine - no strings attached! Tickets from ticketSOUP.com. Even if you have already bought your tickets, remember that you can add a ticket to one of our great masterclasses - sit-down, tutored tastings by the winemakers in a private room. The amazing vertical of Yalumba's top shiraz and viognier wines includes library stock going back for over 14 years. The hugely entertaining Jose-Manuel Ortega of Argentinean superstar estate O.Fournier is showing top wines like Alfa Crux and Alfa Spiga, rated in the mid-90s by us and critics like Robert Parker. Buy tickets for these at just £15 each using the same link.

Blanc on a Camel

raymond and annie Chef Raymond Blanc visited Camel Valley vineyards near Nanstallon in Cornwall to source the wine for his one hour BBC Christmas Special which will be broadcast later in the year. Raymond wanted to know what specialties the ownwers, Bob and Annie Lindo, made at Christmas to go with their award winning sparkling wines and then cooked together with Annie Lindo in her farm house kitchen. Said Bob Lindo: "I had to break it to Annie gently that she would be cooking with Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir fame in her own kitchen, no pressure!" However, Bob needn't have worried, because Raymond was apparently "blown away," with the quality of the local ingredients. Added Annie: 'We cooked scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and croissant. The salmon was caught in the Camel at the bottom of our farm and smoked in Cornish oak, the eggs were local and free range too, and of course we used only Cornish butter and milk.' Camel valley have also just made a special wine to commemorate the 20th vintage, and to celebrate "22 years of pruning 100,000 vines."

iPad sommelier on the move

smart cellar Having recently used one for the first time in Olivier's restaurant in Lisbon, I do think the iPad wine list has lots of advantages and can make choosing wine more fun. Not only are there photos of each wine and room for lots of information, but special food matching selectors, special offer wines and all sorts of interactive content certainly brings the traditional wine list to life. Following the success of the SmartCellar iPad wine lists in Gordon Ramsay's Claridges, Maze and Maze Grill, producer Napa Solutions says "the relationship grows stronger still thanks to glowing customer feedback," and SmartCellar has also been adopted in Ramsay's new venue, Bread Street Kitchen.

Promos lose their bite?

logo Signs of a less promotion-obsessed nation have been revealed in two new UK wine consumer focused reports from Wine Intelligence. Price promotions are no longer the main purchasing consideration for the 28.3 million UK regular wine drinkers, that is according to the 'UK Landscapes Report', an in-depth market guidebook. Whilst promotions do remain an important choice cue, grape variety is, after a period of absence, back as the number one factor in the decision-making process. In a separate development, drinkers are paying more attention to the alcoholic content of what they are buying compared to last year and appeal of the bottle or label design has also become more influential. Almost a quarter of regular wine drinkers say they venture beyond the £6 bottle price. Wine Intelligence's 'wine drinker segmentation report' says that 'Adventurous Connoisseurs', the middle-aged confident wine drinkers have grown significantly since 2007 and account now for around 1 in 10 of all UK wine drinkers. 'Generation Treaters' meanwhile, the younger big-spending wine drinkers, now represent a similar sized group. These two groups now represent 20% of the population but account for 34% of the total spend on wine in the UK. Graham Holter, associate director of Wine Intelligenc, esays: "There is a significant (and arguably growing) mass of people who aren't solely obsessed with discounts, who seek out specialist retailers and unfamiliar wines, and who don't entirely rely on the old certainties".

Japan/Burgundy solidarity

invitation to sale More than 119,000 euros have been collected for the benefit of the Japanese Red Cross following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March. In April the winegrowers, wine merchants and Caves Cooperatives of Burgundy committed 2,300 bottles for sale, and donations have been so generous that three separate sales had to be organised, including the last one at Christie's on 23rd September. The sales did better than all expectations. "This effort of solidarity has ended in grand finale, with a wonderful result that more than satisfies our expectations," says Sophie Meunier, President of the organizing association, Mosaïque Bourgogne International. The sales included some rare and very old Crus, and a spokesman for Christie's Paris, where the final sale realised over 70,000 euros said "Bids were flying in from all sides, both within the room and from the other side of the World, via telephone."