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wine news, November 2011

Berry's goes Vertual

phone For the well-connected wine lover (in more ways than one!) Berry Bros. & Rudd has joined forces with ultra-luxury mobile phone producer Vertu to offer a Sommelier App. The wine app is one of the services on Vertu's latest smartphone, Constellation, which has been created to "complement and enhance a discerning lifestyle," apparently. Vertu owners will direct access to Berry Bros' experienced team of fine wine advisors to offer advice and assistance. Simon Staples, Berrys' Sales and Marketing Director, says "Vertu offers the ability through their touch screen apps and concierge service to get into the most exclusive events, concerts, restaurants in 200 key cities throughout the world. We have been working with Vertu for almost a year on developing what I believe to be the most intuitive and useful wine app out there. Not only can you view all the information on your favourite wines, vintages, producer profiles and wine ratings etc but you can seek advice from our wine experts 24-hours a day via the Vertu Concierge." Vertu phone prices start at around £3,500 (first growths not included).

An Ode to Sherry

Carol Ann signs At a reception to mark the launch of her latest book of poems "The Bees", the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy's guests were served with "Laureates Choice" Sherries she had chosen and which were specially bottled and labelled for her. From 1619 the Poet Laureate received as payment a "Butt" (720 bottles) of Sherry from the Crown. The custom ceased around 1790, but was revived in 1986 for Ted Hughes to mark the centuries old link between Sherry and the United Kingdom and the many references to Sherry in English Literature throughout the ages. When Carol Ann Duffy became the 22nd Poet Laureate and first women to hold the title, she was invited visit the Jerez region and to take possession of her barrel of Sherry by signing it, a mark of honour for distinguished visitors. On a second visit to the area, she wrote a poem celebrating Sherry, now reproduced on the back label of the Sherries which she selected. The poem:

Who wouldn’t feel favoured, at the end of a week’s labour, to receive as part-wages
a pale wine
that puts the mouth in mind of the sea.

and not gladly be kissed
by gentle William Shakespeare’s lips, the dark, raisiny taste of his song;
bequeathed to his thousand daughters and sons,
the stolen wines of the Spanish sun.

or walk the cool bodegas’ aisles – where flor and oxygen
grow talented in fragrances and flavours
to sniff, sip, spit, swallow, savour

Island vines

vineyards Sark has become the world's newest wine region after its first grape harvest took place under the direction of Bordeaux winemaker Dr Alain Raynaud. An island in the English Channel – three miles by one mile in size - Sark is located eight miles from Guernsey and around 20 miles from the north coast of France. Much of its food produce comes from its land and surrounding waters of the English Channel. But in 2010, Dr Raynaud and his team analysed Sark’s soil and subsequently around 100,000 vines have been planted in vineyards covering just 2% of Sark's total land area. Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Savagnin are the main varieties planted across 11 hectares, along with small parcels of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Albariño. The soil on Sark varies between gravel, sand, granite and schist. At the end of October, around 30,000 vines were picked by hand in Sark’s first harvest and it is expected that the first wine will be a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Savagnin. A new label and name for Sark’s first wines are also in the planning stages.

Oddbins from the Ashes

oddbins staff Oddbins relaunched in the UK last month with a "revolutionary approach that will see customers decide the price of some of its wine range." From 20-23 October, consumers were able to blind-taste wines in store and then provide a price that they would be happy to pay for that bottle. The wines are now on shelves at the Customer Recommended Price (CRP). Ayo Akintola, Managing Director of Oddbins (left of picture with Emma Nichols, Oddbins Head of Buying) says: "We're taking the old cliché of 'the customer is always right' and actually demonstrating our belief that this is the case. The new Oddbins will put the consumer at the heart of everything we do, so it makes sense that we have a conversation about our pricing with our customers." The initiative celebrated Oddbins' relaunch on the 19th October with 37 stores across the UK given a new look and feel. The company says: "Oddbins aims to bring the pleasure back to wine buying with a personal touch that cruising the supermarket aisle just fails to deliver."

Chile Moving up in the World

chile logo The latest Nielsen data that tracks the UK off-trade up to October 2011 reveals that Chile has moved up to 5th place in the list of best selling wine countries, overtaking South Africa for the first time. In the gloomy economic climate that is depressing wine sales generally, Chile was one of only four counties that increased volumes over the past 12 months (the others are New Zealand, Italy, and Spain). Chile's off trade sales of 8.5 million cases, valued at £452 million, gave it a market share of 9.1% overall. Chile's performance in the Independents (Impulse) sector was even more impressive with sales up 10% catapulting Chile above France into 4th place with a market share now standing at 10.2%. Commenting on the figures, Michael Cox Wines of Chile's Director - Europe said "It is satisfying to see the efforts of the producers and importers being rewarded with more solid progress. Despite rising prices and unhelpful currency issues, value for money remains Chile's watchword and this underpins its success".