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wine news, July 2012

Save 5 @ BBX

bbx Innovative merchant Berry Bros launched their wine exchange service a couple of years ago, called BBX. Since then, millions of pounds worth of wine has been bought and sold using the service, where anyone can purchase wines direct from Berry Bros' customers rather than from Berry Bros themselves. Purchasers can buy with confidence since every BBX wine is backed by their no-quibble guarantee and is already stored in Berrys' temperature-controlled cellars. No registration is required for BBX Buyers and there is no buyer's premium or commission payable. The news is, that for the next few days - ends midnight Sunday 22nd July - Berry Bros will also take 5% off the price of all wines bought via BBX. It's worth a look at www.bbr.com.

Another One Bites the Dust

Lot18 logo Just four month's after their UK launch, the UK arm of wine buying retail club Lot18 has announced that is closing down its London operation. Lot18 offers free membership, which gains access to an ever changing selection of wine 'lots' or small parcels, which are on sale only for a couple of weeks at a time, or even less if they sell out earlier. The New York-based business has been trading in the USA for some time, and remains active in other European countries, Australia and South America, but says "the supermarkets’ stranglehold on the UK market proved too powerful for us to compete with," and has forced them to close down after missing sales targets. Six staff in the UK will lose their jobs in the closure.

Whether the Weather

rain falling Speaking to The Drinks Business magazine on July 11th, CEO at Chapel Down winery, Frazer Thompson, said that the relentless heavy rainfall over much of the south of England in June and July is "not a disaster yet," but he quickly added that "the weather over the next 10 days or so is important. We want to see warmer, stiller weather and less torrential rain." Unfortunately for the English wine industry, currently on something of a roll, seven of those 10 days have elapsed at time of writing and there is no real sign of improvement so far. Last year’s harvest saw a similar summer deluge, but ended up producing a good, if small, crop thanks to a late burst of warmer, dry weather. Everyone involved will have their fingers crossed for this year when so much focus is on England with the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic games - during the Jubilee celebrations Waitrose saw English wines sales up 96%. (Picture courtesy Banksy).

China Thinks Big

artist's impression Changyu Pioneer Wine Co., China’s oldest and biggest wine producer, is planning to establish a 413-hectare international wine city on the outskirt of Yantai in China, with an estimated investment of 6 billion yuan (about 765 million euros). The aim is to incorporate wine and vine research and winemaking in one place. In addition Changuy’s Wine City will comprise China's first and in the world biggest tourist theme park for wine. Amongst the astonishing attractions planned for completion in 2016 are two châteaux (one for brandy, one for wine) built in classic European style, 15 advanced production lines imported from Europe to cover an area of 220,000 square meters (instantly making this one of the world's largest wine and brandy production plants) and a complete European-style village. Changyu's European distributor, Austria's TxB International Fine Wines, is currently introducing Changyu’s red wine Cabernet Gernischt "with great success."

I'll Take Two

ampoule Penfolds has launched a limited edition ampoule, with only 12 produced globally. The unveiling took place in Moscow in June to a select group of guests (wine-pages unfortunately wasn't on the list) The ampoule is a unique work of art produced by South Australia's finest craftsman to commemorate the "spectacular" 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon. The price of one ampule is a mere £100,000, but then Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago will travel to wherever the purchaser chooses, to open the ampoule in a unique ceremony. The ampoule will be ceremoniously removed from its glass casing and opened using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe. The winemaker will then "prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin." Penfolds will be unveiling the ampoule in the UK at the end of July. Click the image, right, to watch a three-minute video that shows the making of the ampoule.