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'Class A' beer fails Portman test

Published:  20 January, 2009

A beer that plays on the potentially lethal practice of mixing Class A drugs in its marketing has fallen foul of the Portman Group's Code of Practice.

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Wines in the Press, January 17-18

Published:  20 January, 2009

This week Tim Atkin reports back from South Africa, Joanna Simon says people should be aware of the hidden costs within promotions whilst Jancis Robinson picks out wines that offer the best value for money

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Wines in the Press, January 17-18

Published:  20 January, 2009

This week Tim Atkin reports back from South Africa, Joanna Simon says people should be aware of the hidden costs within promotions whilst Jancis Robinson picks out wines that offer the best value for money

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Asda wines go to Japan

Published:  19 January, 2009

Wines from the Extra Special own-brand of UK supermarket Asda are being launched in Japan.

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Hine aims for intrigue with new ads

Published:  19 January, 2009

A new advertising campaign for Hine Cognac is being piloted in France and the UK.

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Pernod sells off Lubuski gin

Published:  16 January, 2009

Pernod Ricard has agreed to sell Lubuski gin to Vinpol, the Polish subsidiary of Germany's Henkell drinks group, best known for its sparkling wines.

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Drinks Americas bags Olifant

Published:  16 January, 2009

US spirits firm Drinks Americas has completed the acquisition of the Olifant vodka brand.

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Rare Grange at Barossa auction

Published:  16 January, 2009

A collection of limited-release and rare Penfolds wines will be sold at the biennial Barossa Vintage Festival Rare Wine Auction in Australia.

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Alcohol number one in festive online sales

Published:  16 January, 2009

People turned to the internet last Christmas for the best discounted alcohol deals, according to new research released by online specialists, IMRG.

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Solar energy scheme for Constellation

Published:  16 January, 2009

Constellation Brands has begun installing what it claims is the world's largest solar energy system in a winery, at Gonzales in California.

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Chablis Wine Award winners announced

Published:  16 January, 2009

The winners of the 23rd Annual Chablis Wine Awards have been announced following the judging of over 300 wines from four appellations to reward the best wines of the 2006 and 2007 harvests.

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Burgundy favourite makes on-trade debut

Published:  15 January, 2009

Blason de Bourgogne has made its on-trade debut, almost seven years after it first appeared in the UK take-home market.

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Rosé sales to lead growth in UK

Published:  14 January, 2009

Rosé sales will be the powerhouse in the UK wine market over the next five years, according to research commissioned by Vinexpo.

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Tesco has poor Christmas

Published:  14 January, 2009

Tesco has reported its worst Christmas sales performance since the last recesssion, as the discounters continue to make gains in the UK market.

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uggga ugga

Published:  13 January, 2009

With wine and spirits activity slowing to its seasonal drip, it looks like there is no escape from the recession for the industry. But it is not the reduced activity, which is likely to have an adverse impact on smaller companies.

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Constellation dumps value spirits brands

Published:  13 January, 2009

Constellation Brands is selling its value spirits business to New Orleans-based Sazerac for $334 million.

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Wines in the Press, January 10-11

Published:  13 January, 2009

The Observer

For the best, and most reliable Pinot Noirs, look to New Zealand rather than Burgundy, says Tim Atkin. "As every self respecting Pinotphile knows, when red Burgundy is good, it is unbeatable. The opposite, alas is also true. When red Burgundy is bad, it is unpalatable," he declares.

 

While other countries including South Africa and the US make good Pinot Noirs, only New Zealand can compete with Burgundy at every level. And Atkins points out that other countries should be concerned, as three quarters of New Zealand's Pinot vineyards are less than eight years old and when those vines mature, the wines are only going to improve further.

 

He recommends the "sweetly oaked, finely wrought" 2007 Resolute Pinot Noir, Winegrowers of Ara, Marlborough, (£15.99 each for two, Majestic); the "complex, restrained" 2007 Blind River Pinot Noir, Marlborough (£15.99, Waitrose); and the multi-award winning 2006 Wild Earth Pinot Noir, Central Otago (£17.99, Liberty Wines).

 

The Times

Cash strapped wine drinkers on the lookout for some bargains should turn to offerings from Spain and Portugal, which produce some "terrific" sources of both sub- £6 reds, and increasingly whites, says Jane MacQuitty.

 

What they lack in popularity, they more than make up for in flavour, she claims. Spain's cheaper, often Tempranillo-grape-based reds and whites made from the airen grape are both worthy of a punt, while the Douro is the place to focus on in Portugal. Italy too, has some good reds below the £6 price bracket, particularly from Sicily and the south.

 

While Australia is finding it tricky competing at this level, Chile with its cabernet and carmenre, and Argentina with malbec and torrontes can offer some great wines at this price. France too, can be a source of cheaper wines, particularly Gascony and the Languedoc. Two of MacQuitty's recommendations include the 2008 Palo Alto Sauvignon Reserva, and the 2007 Alto Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenere-Syrah, (both down to £3.99 till Feb 10, Sainsburys).


The Guardian

Victoria Moore interviews Oddbins' new proprietor Simon Baile, and finds out about the changes he's introduced since he acquired the company last summer. After already ditching around 600 of the existing 2,000 stock lines which he inherited, he is already planning another cull, including the Oddbins Selection range, which Moore condemns as "dreary" and epitomizing "everything that had gone wrong with the chain".

 

Buyers are now being given the freedom to go out and buy what they like, and not just a couple of parcels a month; even if they can only source 900 bottles, Baile says he will put that wine into ten stores.

 

"I want the excitement factor; a sense of discovery" he says. So far Baile's team have focused their energies on France, a country which has contributed around 65 of some 80 new wines. Moore liked the "warm, bright" Capucine Vin de Pays de L' Aude 2007 (£6.99 or £5.59 as part of a mixed case), and the 2007 Chateau Malardeau Sauvignon Blanc Cote de Duras (£7.49 or £5,99 in a mixed case).

 

The Sunday Times

The upside of last year's cool damp summer has been lower alcohol wines from the less ripe, less sugar-rich grapes. This may not have been considered a benefit a few years ago says Joanna Simon, but recently there has been a bit of a backlash against heavy, alcohol-laden wines.

 

Whether that is because of consumers' growing health concerns or simply a desire for fresher, more balanced tasting wines remains to be seen, but producers had already started to look at ways of reducing the alcohol content by managing their vineyards differently. Some of these resulting wines that Simon likes includes the 12% abv 2006 Salwey Oberrotweiler Kasleberg Spatburgunder, (£11.60, Tanners) and the 2006 Ferngrove Riesling, also 12% abv, (£7.49, Oddbins).


The Independent

The wines originally made by the Marquis della Rochetta in the 1940's in Bolgheri, southern Tuscany, were initially derided as "filth", according to Anthony Rose. However, Sassicai, grown from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, has since gained a fine reputation worldwide.

 

Some of the most promising include the "spicy and succulently fruity" 2006 Insoglio del Cinghiale Toscana, (£14.99 - £17.50, Philglas & Swiggot, D Byrne, Portland Wine Cellars); and the "black olive, spicy, liquorice and bittersweet dark chocolatey" 2004 Piemonte Angelo Gaja Ca'Marcanda, (£62.65, Armit).

 

The Financial Times

Jancis Robinson interviews Peter Max Sichel, the man responsible for bringing Blue Nun to the masses in the early 1960's. This new generation of wine drinkers in both the US and UK loved the medium dry German blends that Blue Nun spawned, but by the early 1980's sales had started to slow as consumers became more sophisticated in their tastes.

 

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Wetherspoons boss's warning over pub debts

Published:  12 January, 2009

Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin has warned that private equity-owned pubcos are too burdened with debt to invest in their struggling estates.


Martin said that this debt, along with overzealous regulation, was "running down" the institution that is the British pub.


He added: "A number of private equity- owned pub companies, which are actually making huge losses after [paying] interest . . . are going to have financial problems - that's going to be the dominant headline for the next two years.


"Landlords have been paying too much rent and are unable to provide service and prices that are attractive enough to customers."

 

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Letter January 9

Published:  12 January, 2009

There's a silver lining to every cloud, or so the saying goes. This new year, in my opinion, is going to be a fantastic year for those with burnt thumbs from unfriendly, 'human driven' and down trodden stocks and shares to diversify their investment portfolios (i.e. spread their risk) and stick some of their hard earned money into one of the oldest investment asset classes - fine wine.

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Bullish Christmas sales a boost to the industry

Published:  09 January, 2009

Wine retailers are bullish about their Christmas sales, with early indications suggesting that a late surge may have compensated for a sluggish start to the festive period, according to a report in today's issue of  Harpers.

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