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wine news, February 2014

Become a Bordeaux winemaker

winemakers Berry Bros. & Rudd, one of Britain's oldest Wine and Spirits merchants, has seen plenty of innovation in its 316-year history. Now, in another first, thier their clients have the chance to make their own Bordeaux wines. Berry's announced on 17th February 2014 that they had become exclusive UK and Hong Kong agents for VINIV, a Bordeaux-based company that allows wine enthusiasts to produce their own wine, one barrel and one vintage at a time. Berry Bros' says "We recognise that VINIV has unmatched access to winemaking expertise and a portfolio of prestigious old-vine vineyards on Bordeaux's left and right banks, from Pauillac, Saint-Emilion, Saint Estèphe, Canon Fronsac, Graves and others. With renowned appellations on both banks, individuals can produce a truly unique Bordeaux wine." The winemaking team at Château Lynch-Bages oversee VINIV's winery operations and provide education and technical support. Eric Boissenot, advisor to four of Bordeaux's five 1855 first classified growths also lends his winemaking and blending skills. "The chance to make your own fine wine is a remarkable way to develop your appreciation and understanding of one of life's greatest pleasures," says Berry Bros. & Rudd's Bordeaux Buyer, Max Lalondrelle, adding "Whether you're sharing a barrel with some friends, looking to promote your company by creating a unique gift, or satisfying a long-time dream, VINIV offers a truly unique experience." Contact www.bbr.com.

Learn to Speak Wine

portfolio graph There's no doubt that whilst for many of us wine is there for one reason only - to pop the cork, pour and enjoy - fine wine is also a globally traded commodity that forms the part of a portfolio of investments for wealthy individuals, companies and pension funds. London-based portfolio management platform and trading exchange, Wine Owners, has just announced that its members can now manage and value their wine portfolios in any currency. They say "This provides a global view of a portfolio's value as well as enabling members to manage multiple sub portfolios (cellars) denominated in different currencies, to support a growing trend among international collectors' for jurisdictional diversification." It's a mouthful in more ways than one, but basically it shows real time exchange rates for international investors because "The UK is a global trading hub, but it is also a tax-friendly environment in which to store wines under bond before shipping into the global wine market. As a consequence collectors from more than 40 countries store their wines in one of the large UK specialist wine bonds. The Wine Owners platform can be used to manage and track these remote portfolios and offers members a consolidated view of their collection, no matter how many locations their wines are stored in." For more information see www.wineowners.com

Wine and Popcorn Matching

popcorn at BAFTAs Villa Maria has worked with BAFTA's Head Chef, Anton Manganaro, to create some fun popcorn flavours to match three of its wines. These were served at the glitzy Asprey BAFTA Nominees Party on Saturday 15th February as a prelude to the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2014 Ceremony which took place on Sunday evening at the Royal Opera House. Stars of the silver screen were in attendance at the party including Dame Helen Mirren, Amy Adams and Steve Coogan who presumably enjoyed the unusual matches: Salted Caramel Popcorn with Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2013; Lime & Chilli Popcorn with Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2011; White Truffle Popcorn with Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2012.

Step-up for Germany

2005 Riesling For once it was not Bordeaux, Burgundy or Barolo that took centre stage at a top-end London wine auction, but German Riesling. Bonhams auctioneers has announced that rare German wines were in high demand at Bonhams Fine Wine sale in London on 13 February with six bottles of Scharzhofberger Trokenbeernauslese 2005 making 17,625 against an estimate of 9,000-11,000. A magnum of the same wine from the same year was sold for 4,700, whilst three bottles of J J Prüm's Wehlener Sonnenuhr Trockenbeerenauslese 1971 sold for 2,937.50 each having been estimated at 1,000-1,500. The classic French regions weren't quite missed out, as top lot of the day was a case of Armand Rousseau's 1966 Chambertin which went for 25,850, comfortably exceeding its estimate of 15,000-18,000. International Director of Bonhams Fine Wine Department, Richard Harvey, said, "The sale was notable for a strong collection of rare German wines from a Continental collector and they performed very well. It is good to see this sector of the market in such demand."

Cost-cutter Wines?

logo A 'price comparison site' for wines, beers and spirits called bringabottle.co.uk claims that Britons 'waste' over 4 million per year by paying too much for their booze. They claim that "simply changing retailer customers can save an average of 22%," citing their survey on a single day in January 2014 where 1,900 products were analysed at the five major supermarkets and 'other online retailers.' They say this revealed significant savings including a 45% difference in the price for a bottle of Piper Heidsieck Champagne sold for 18 at ASDA and 32.89 at Sainsbury's, whilst a bottle of The Famous Grouse Scotch Whisky was 37% cheaper at one major retailer than its closest competitor. The bringabottle service and savings it highlights may have limited appeal to wine-pages' refined drinkers, as it mostly seems concerned with big brand wines.

Bespoke Bubbles

champagne 'Champagne By You' is "a brilliant new bespoke service," from Champagne Warehouse that let's you choose and personalise one of its Champagnes, presumably aimed at the gift and corporate markets. All of Champagne Warehouse's wines are imported direct from growers in the Champagne region, and the 'Champagne By You' experience begins with a tasting session to choose the style of wine you like, followed by designing your own unique, handmade aluminium label with the help of the in-house design team - "from a favourite photograph to a unique design the choice is yours." Contact www.champagnebyyou.com.