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Regionality not the solution'

Published:  23 July, 2008

Focusing on regionality alone is not going to solve Australia's problems in the UK market. That was the stark message taken away from a seminar conducted at last week's Australia Day tastings in London, where a series of influential trade figures debated the subject: Australia - Brand Champion or Pantomime Villain?'
With a panel comprising everyone from producers and brand owners to retailers and the press, definite conclusions were, unsurprisingly, thin on the ground. But one subject on which everyone did agree was that Australia has some serious problems in the UK market.

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Clare Valley climate uncovered

Published:  23 July, 2008

A number of Clare Valley producers have explained how their region's climate is varied enough to grow both Riesling and Shiraz.
At a tutored tasting held at London's Australia House last week, Jeffrey Grosset of Grosset Wines explained that decades of weather data on the region were next to useless and claimed that ex-Petaluma boss Brian Croser once said that this was because the weather station in Clare was on a concrete slab behind the post office'. More recent data, Grosset added, showed the weather to be cooler than previously recorded, but the new weather data say that it's not hot enough to ripen Cabernet, but it's too hot for Riesling, so both reports are flawed'.

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New face at Wine Australia

Published:  23 July, 2008

Kirsten Moore has been appointed as Paul Henry's replacement as the regional manager for the UK and Ireland at generic body Wine Australia. Moore, born in Australia, has experience of both the UK off- and on-trade channels and, most recently, worked in a buying role at contract-catering giant Compass Group UK.

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Berkmann keeps it in the family

Published:  23 July, 2008

Berkmann Wine Cellars has appointed the son of the company's chairman and founder, Joseph Berkmann,
to its board.
Rupert Berkmann, 26, has now joined the company on a full-time basis after spending time working with Negociants International in Australia. He will be working in the London office learning all facets of the family business'.
I have lived and breathed the Berkmann Wine Cellars philosophy all my life. I now stand as part of the team, with the aim of continuing to deliver excellent service and outstanding quality wines to the UK. Our goal is to be the best wine merchant in the UK.'

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Australians get a taste of The Oval

Published:  23 July, 2008

Liberty Wines used its latest portfolio tasting at The Brit Oval - the first wine company to use Surrey County Cricket Club's facilities - to launch a number of new projects and agencies from Australia (despite the Oval being the venue for England's dramatic Ashes victory).

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Delibo wine launched

Published:  23 July, 2008

James Fleetwood is bringing together his existing wine businesses - Xavier Wines and Fleetwood Wines - under one roof, operating from a converted pigsty in Oxfordshire'.
The name of the new company, Delibo Fine Wines, is taken from the Latin word delibare meaning to taste'.
Delibo will be the agent for the Xavier range from the southern Rhne, along with boutique brands from the Languedoc and Champagne Jacques Picard. Fleetwood said that New World wines will also be added to the portfolio very soon'.

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Paul Cluver appoints new agent and launches Slowine

Published:  23 July, 2008

Seckford Agencies has been appointed the new agent for Paul Cluver.
Managing director Paul Cluver said: We are very pleased to be joining Seckford Agencies; it is a specialist distributor with a strong association with South Africa.' The new 2003 Pinot Noir and 2004 Chardonnay have just been released.
Paul Cluver Wines is also launching a new range of wines called Slowine, retailing at 6.99 to 7.99 (Chenin/Sauvignon, Pinot Noir Ros, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon). The labels depict a tortoise, symbolising the principles of the Slow Movement.

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New company celebrates

Published:  23 July, 2008

Bespoke wine club Quintessentially Wine has marked its first Christmas with an average order of 16 a bottle, excluding Champagne.
The highest single order for wine came in at 11,000, and MD Chris Orr said: When you look at how the high-street wine stores are struggling, especially with the recent demise of the likes of Unwins, it is encouraging that we've had such a positive response to our service.'
Launched in November 2005, Quintessentially Wine is part of Quintessentially, the world's leading private members club', with interests in golf, spas, and restaurants.

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Sales director appointed

Published:  23 July, 2008

Whyte & Mackay has appointed David Brown as sales director for the UK on-trade.
Brown was formerly commercial director at Belhaven Pubs and has also worked as marketing director at Caledonian Brewery, and as UK sales and marketing manager with Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine.
Whyte & Mackay group managing director Bob Brannan said: We are delighted that David will be joining us. It is an exciting time for us as we relaunch our brands, and David's vast experience will be very valuable to the whole team.'

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Bottle Green gives birth to Twin Vines

Published:  23 July, 2008

Bottle Green hopes to cut through the maze of wine language with the launch of Twin Vines.
The six-wine range features three varietals, each with an Old World and New World version: Chardonnay from France and Australia, Merlot from France and Chile, and Zinfandel from Italy and California. The wines, which all retail at 4.99, were blended by Bottle Green wine director Nick Butler and senior winemaker Mark Nairn.

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WSTA demands action

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has called upon the Government to change the way wines and spirits are taxed in the UK.
In its 2006 Budget Submission, the association - representing more than 200 UK producers, importers, wholesalers and retailers - has devised a list of demands that it claims are essential to maintaining a trading environment where responsible business can survive'.

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Price-drop fears played down

Published:  23 July, 2008

New Zealand's top winemaking talent has dismissed talk of the price of Sauvignon Blanc being forced down.
The country's wines enjoy the highest average bottle price in the UK off-trade (5.68, MAT to December '05), but this has slipped from above the 6 mark, and there has been speculation that as more and more Kiwi Sauvignon is produced - UK exports leapt 50% last year - there will be an inevitable drop in price.

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Conran manager is top WSET student

Published:  23 July, 2008

The manager of Blueprint Caf, the Conran-run restaurant at the Design Museum, has won the Vintners' Cup for top WSET Diploma student of 2005. Richard Hamblin, 33, who puts together the wine list for the restaurant and has been working with wine and spirits since he was 18, said he is now looking to embark on the MW programme if work commitments allow'.
Amy Chapman won the award for best non-trade candidate.

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Burgundian winemaker commits suicide

Published:  23 July, 2008

Denis Mortet, one of Burgundy's most respected and talented winemakers, was found dead in his car in front of his cuverie in Gevrey-Chambertin on Monday 30 January. He is believed to have committed suicide.

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Jaboulet family to stay on at PJA

Published:  23 July, 2008

Compagnie Financire Frey (CFF) has announced that a number of members of the Jaboulet family will continue to work for the Rhne producer Paul Jaboulet An (PJA),
which it bought last month (see Harpers 27 January).
Louis Jaboulet will become president of honour, while Frdric, Laurent and Nicolas Jaboulet will take care of both the commercial and technical matters, as they were already doing with the previous management'.
Caroline Frey, currently in charge of CFF's Bordeaux estate Chteau La Lagune, will also manage PJA alongside Laurent Jaboulet. A new CEO will be appointed shortly.
A spokesperson for CFF said: [CFF] is already a major operator in Champagne and Bordeaux, and its goal is to build a portfolio of high-quality brands and put emphasis on the synergies between them.
With the acquisition of PJA, Frey sticks to its strategy and gets a remarkable position in the north of the Rhne Valley.'

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Mentzendorff takes H&H

Published:  23 July, 2008

Henriques & Henriques (H&H), the premium Madeira producer, has moved to the Mentzendorff portfolio in an exclusive arrangement. A spokesman for the agency said: This expansion builds upon the foundation of the Fladgate Partnership Port brands and the more recently introduced Hidalgo-La Gitana premium Manzanillas.'
Mentzendorff's fortified wine consultant, Joanna Delaforce, will manage the brand.

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Oz grape growers' boss quits

Published:  23 July, 2008

The chairman of industry association Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) has been ousted' just six months after he took up the position - putting in jeopardy a long-awaited summit in March designed to find a solution to Australia's grape-oversupply situation.
The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA), one of the conveners of the summit along with the WGGA and the federal government, has now put its support for it on hold. Now is an absolutely critical time in grape-grower politics,' WFA chief executive Stephen Strachan said. We need to see strong and continuous leadership among grape growers.'
Speculation in the Australian press suggested the relationship between Clancy and the three major growers' groups (from Sunraysia, the Riverina and the Riverland) was damaged'.
Clancy said he was disappointed not to be able to see through the formation of the national body. I feel I'm abandoning ship just as it is about to dock.'

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Bordeaux trio fight back

Published:  23 July, 2008

Three prominent members of the Bordeaux wine trade have written an open letter to the viticultural regions of France' asking for them to back urgent reforms' and slamming those who blame Bordeaux for the difficulties of the whole French wine trade'.

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M&S picks Westbury

Published:  23 July, 2008

Westbury Communications will handle PR for Marks & Spencer after it won a three-way pitch.
M&S was represented by Carpe Diem for one year but has now appointed Westbury, which recently severed ties with Asda, which it had worked with for eight years.
M&S senior food press officer Vivienne Jawett said: We are delighted to be working with Westbury - they have a fantastic track record. Their creative approach to PR and knowledge of wine will play an important part in promoting our wine and drinks.'

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Allotment holder plants vineyard

Published:  23 July, 2008

An allotment holder from Didsbury, near Manchester, is planning to plant one of the northernmost vineyards in England.
John Firth, 76, has approval from the Bradley Folds allotment committee and now intends to plant half a hectare of a Madeleine/Sylvaner cross.
He told Harpers: It just seemed a good idea. The land is high up above the rest of the site, and it slopes down to the south.' Firth doesn't think that the climate in the northwest will be a problem, given that the past few summers have been pretty hot.
The only stumbling block is a patch of Japanese Knotweed growing on the vineyard site, which Firth admits could take a season or two' to clear, seeing as its roots can grow to up to 3m (10ft).
Firth has already tried winemaking before, although he admitted that the end product tasted more like cider'.
The most northerly vineyards in England are Leventhorpe Vineyard near Leeds and Mount Pleasant Vineyard in Camforth, Lancashire.

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