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wine news, September 2013

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Torbreck Melt-Down

Dave Dave Powell, the founder, winemaker and general manager of the Barossa Valley's highly respected Torbreck estate has left the company in a fairly murky and bitter business manouevre. Peter Knight, a wealthy American who became the major owner of Torbreck when he sunk a reputed US$20.5m into the ailing company a decade ago is now in charge, but the parting of the ways has been anything but amicable and there is much confusion over just what exactly has led to this point. Powell issued an open letter in which he claims he was effectively stitched up by the contract with Knight when he took over, and that he had been forced to leave the company against his will. He concluded: "They can take the company I built but they can’t take my passion. Torbreck’s just a label now – the future holds better things."

Berry New MWs

MWs The Institute of Masters of Wine has announced eight new MWs, which does not sound a lot, but this is in fact a bumper crop for this notoriously difficult qualification. And London wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd was celebrating more than most perhaps, because two of the eight are members of the company's staff, and in fact the two new editions brings the total number of MWs employed ny BBR to eight - the highest number employed by any wine merchant. Anne McHale,a Wine Education Specialist at Berry Bros. & Rudd's Wine School, and Demetri Walters, Sales Manager for Berry's Private Wine Events, join the MW family. Mark Pardoe (MW, naturally), Wine Buying Director at Berry Bros. & Rudd, commented: "As long-term supporters of The Institute, we are delighted by the news of all this year's successful candidates. To have such a group within the business, unmatched anywhere in the trade, endorses and furthers the expertise and authority of all parts of our company."

Jadot goes to Oregon

Jadot team Burgundy's Louis Jadot has taken its first steps outside of its homeland with the purchase of Oregon's Resonance Vineyard. CEO Pierre Henry Gagey announced the purchase of the 8-hectare estate in the Willamette Valley, which lies in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and which was first planted in 1981. Gagey stated, "This is the first time that Jadot will produce wine outside of Burgundy. We were impressed by the quality of the wines we tasted here." Gagey (left) is pictured with Jacques Lardière, former winemaker at Louis Jadot, who will be responsible for all aspects of cultivation, vinification and aging of the wines in Oregon, starting with the 2013 harvest. Carla and Kevin Chambers, Resonance Vineyard’s owners and managers for the past 24 years, said, "We're honored to pass the baton of stewardship to Maison Louis Jadot," adding that, "We believe the Jadot team will build upon our success."

Aristocratic Bordeaux

haut-brion Hurry down to Sotheby's (or check it out online of course) if you are interested in bidding for some classic wines from a most aristocratic cellar in their sale which takes place on 18th September. The collection of mostly Bordeaux and Burgundy amassed by the 3rd Viscount Rothermere has all sorts of goodies including six magnums of the outstanding 1989 Haut-Brion (estimated at £8,500-£10,000) and a case of the 1961, estimated at £16,000 – £20,000. Meanwhile the much smaller and more specialised online auction house Bid For Wine has its own sale beginning the day before, 17th September, and is inviting consignment lots now. See www.bidforwine.co.uk.

Gusbourne takes AIM

gusbourne Perhaps its a sign of the maturity of the English sparkling wine industry, now being taken seriously around the world, that the well-known Gusbourne Estate plans to float on the AIM Market of the Stock Exchange at the end of this month. The Gusbourne Estate Business and related Freehold Property in Kent is what's on offer, with over 100 acres of vineyards in Kent and Sussex and plans to develop an additional 100 acres over the next two years "to capitalise on industry growth and meet increasing consumer demand." Andrew Weeber, the proposed Chairman of the new company, commented: "Our recent successes demonstrate the huge potential of the Gusbourne brand and I am very excited to be embarking on a new phase of business development and expansion. I look forward to working with an experienced and dynamic management team. I believe the prospects for the Gusbourne product range in the context of the growing market for English sparkling and still wines are excellent."