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Darren de Bortoli slams listed wine companies

Published:  23 July, 2008

The managing director of one of Australia's largest family-owned wineries, De Bortoli Wines, has accused its big, stock-market-listed rivals of damaging the Australian industry as a whole by capitulating to short-term pressures.
Darren de Bortoli added that 2006 would see the toughest operating conditions in the past 20 years' and that things would stay bad for a drawn-out period' due to grape oversupply.

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The Interview: Hamish Martin, Managing director, Inverarity Vaults

Published:  23 July, 2008

What did you do before setting up Inverarity Vaults?
I had always intended to join the army, but within seven weeks of arriving at Sandhurst I had torn my ligaments playing rugby and was medically discharged. So I applied for a place on the management trainee course at Oddbins and worked for them for two years. Then I joined Champagnes & Chteaux, selling their wines on a commission basis to hotels and restaurants. But I always knew I wanted to come back to Scotland, so when my father retired as production director of The Distillers Company Limited (DCL), he suggested that we create our own blended Scotch whisky. My passion is wine, so I started the wine business by importing a pallet of Domaine de Thelin's ros, which is still our house wine.

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The appliance of science

Published:  23 July, 2008

In the wine world, Australia punches above its weight. Consider the facts: in terms of production statistics, Australia isn't really a big player on the global wine scene. While 160,000 hectares (ha) under vine may sound a lot, compare this with the Languedoc's 250,000ha, or even Sicily's 200,000ha, and it's somewhat surprising that the Aussies have a reputation as one of the giants of the wine world. What is the secret to their success? It's likely to be down to several factors, but one of the key elements seems to be that, relative to the size of its industry, Australia has a very active wine-science community working on relevant, industry-driven projects, and its winemakers have gone on to apply the fruits of this research in the pursuit of quality.

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BOB does bingo

Published:  23 July, 2008

BOB - Buddies of the Benevolent - kicked of its 2006 programme with a Cocktail Bingo' night on 18 January at Fulham Town Hall and raised close to 1,000 for the Wine and Spirit Trades' Benevolent fund. Almost 100 members of the trade attended, drinking a fair amount of beer, wine and Cuba libres. The Mentzendorff team were the big winners on the night, walking away with three of the prizes: a meal for two at Vault, a leather bag and a bottle of Inniskillin Icewine.
Four more events are planned for this year, including a boat cruise in July and a salsa night in September.

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Chelsea boss to promote cork?

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chelsea FC manager Jos Mourinho is in negotiations with The Portuguese Cork Association (Apcor) to be the public face of a pro-cork promotional campaign.
Mourinho, a wine lover who last year presented Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson with a bottle of 1965 Barca Velha, has yet to finalise the deal, but he is expected to sign, with the campaign to be launched in March.

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Bunch scraps New Year tasting

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Bunch, the group of independent wine merchants formed in the early 1990s, has decided to scrap its traditional January tasting, instead moving it to the autumn.
Alun Griffiths MW, MD of Berry Bros & Rudd (BBR) and chairman of The Bunch, said: When The Bunch was set up, the members decided to ensure that their press tasting was the first such tasting of the year, starting the year off in style. At that time, there were no Burgundy en primeur tastings to compete with it.

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Teetotaller Trump launches vodka

Published:  23 July, 2008

American entrepreneur Donald Trump is the latest in a long line of celebrities to launch a super-premium vodka.
Connecticut-based Drinks Americas signed an eight-year agreement with Trump, last seen in the UK as host of TV show The Apprentice, to distribute and sell Trump Super Premium Vodka. The company already sells country singer Willie Nelson's Old Whiskey River Bourbon, chef Roy Yamaguchi's Y Sake, and actor Paul Newman's Own Lightly Sparkling Fruit Juice Drinks.
Trump, who does not actually drink alcohol, said: The premium-vodka category is where the very best of fashionable spirits brands compete. That is the place for the Trump brand.'
He added that by the summer of 2006 he expected the T&T' (Trump and tonic) to be the most-called-for cocktail in America'.

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Armagnacs meet their match

Published:  23 July, 2008

Habanos, the Cuban cigar appellation, has teamed up with AOC Armagnac to attempt to show how well they complement each other.
Some 22 Armagnacs from a dozen houses were blind tasted in Paris by spirits journalists and cigar connoisseurs. Each house was asked to present Armagnacs in two categories: XO blends and Hors d'Age; and vintage Armagnacs.

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Inglaterra quiere ms

Published:  23 July, 2008

Earlier this month, Chilean voters made history by installing Michele Bachelet as the first elected female president in the history of Latin America. The vote came as something of a surprise to many Chile watchers, who have become accustomed to thinking of the remote nation as one of the world's more socially conservative countries - a place where divorce only became legal during the past couple of years. But for the car-horn-tooting thousands who thronged the centre of Santiago to celebrate Bachelet's victory on 15 January, the election of the doctor and single mother was confirmation that the Chile of the 21st century is becoming a very different place from that of the previous decades.

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Portman Group names and shames

Published:  23 July, 2008

Six complaints made by the public concerning drinks products were upheld last year by The Portman Group, the organisation that promotes responsible drinking and marketing.
In its annual report, the group's chairman, former Met Police Commissioner Lord Condon, said: Unlike last year, when the theme of "sexual success" dominated the complaints, this year saw a return to a more eclectic mix of complaints against a wider range of provisions to the Code [of Practice].'

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Moshos leaves Petaluma

Published:  23 July, 2008

Con Moshos, a winemaker at famed Australian producer Petaluma for 25 years, is leaving the comp`ny to take over the reins at Eden Valley winery Mountadam.
Moshos's departure follows that of the estate's founder, Brain Croser, who gave up his consultancy role there last year. Petaluma was taken over by the Lion Nathan wine group in a hostile takeover in 2001.

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Discovery Wine launch

Published:  23 July, 2008

Two former divisional directors of New World wine importer Vinoceros, Anthony McIndoe and Ray King, have launched a new wine company, Discovery Wine, based in Manchester.
The new business, backed by corporate finance house Ballard Campbell & Partners, is currently building a portfolio of New World wines that meet the particular need of independent wholesale and retail sectors, as well as developing a range of own brands aimed specifically at the multiple sector'.
King added: We are already developing a range of quality entry-level wines that will hit the market in early spring.'

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Bibendum to distribute Lion Nathan in Europe

Published:  23 July, 2008

Bibendum Wine has created a new business, Bibendum Wine International, to manage distribution for a number of wine brands in Europe.
A key partner in the new set-up is Lion Nathan, which shares a joint venture with Bibendum in the UK. The new company will be run by Lars Venborg, who is a former commercial director of Michel Laroche.
Bibendum MD Dan Jago said: There are products, skills and processes that the UK industry can successfully offer to other distributors in Europe, and we intend Bibendum to be at the front of this integration.'
Lion Nathan MD Peter Cowan added that the new venture will create a very efficient and effective export management structure'. Lion Nathan brands include St Hallett, Petaluma and Knappstein from Australia, Wither Hills from New Zealand, and Oregon-based Argyle.

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A little more conversation

Published:  23 July, 2008

How do you get consumers and the trade talking about a 50,000-case brand with next to no above-the-line marketing budget and without the help of an expensive PR agency? Nick Dymoke-Marr of Orbital Wines managed it, for the cost of 100 bottles of wine (+ p&p). And all by the power of the blog.
First, some numbers. At the last count (in December 2005) there were 26 million blogs - short for weblogs, a kind of interactive online diary - in the world, with 85,000 new ones being created each day. And the number of blogs devoted to, or mostly involving, wine? Just 56 worldwide, according to http://wineblogwatch.arrr.net. At least one part of the wine world isn't faced with a glut.

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Jurisprudence or blind man's buff?

Published:  23 July, 2008

Guilty or not guilty. Happily, that is neither the question nor the answer for the Grand Jury Europen (GJE). As it sips, swirls and spits its way through the evidence presented by more than 150 anonymous vinous witnesses, it may well consider cases of assault, breach of contract, deception, extortion, fraud, negligence, price-rigging and treason, as well as mitigating circumstances such as crimes passionnels and diminished responsibility. But its decisions will not be rendered in a stark one- or two-word verdict. Rather, they will take the form of a summary, with charts and graphs and scores out of 100. As such, some will find them harder to accept than others.

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Thresher Group offers employees a franchise

Published:  23 July, 2008

Thresher Group is offering franchises on several hundred' of its 2,000 shops, with its 12,000 staff getting first chance to get involved.
On the back of positive Christmas trading figures, up 15% on December last year, chief executive Roger Whiteside said the move was a strategic step for the business that will enrich our own expertise in the drinks retail sector by mixing it with local knowledge and the flexibility of our franchisees'.

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Chile's award winners

Published:  23 July, 2008

Karen Gilchrist, a consultant at Matetic Vineyards, receives the Best Wine of Show prize from Michael Cox, the UK director of Wines of Chile, for the 2004 EQ Syrah. The wine took the top award in the 3rd Annual Wines of Chile Awards, held in Santiago this month. Best-value red went to 2004 Falernia Fundacon Carmenre/Syrah, and the best-value white was 2005 Valdivieso Reserve Sauvignon Blanc. The judges included Simon Woods, Joe Wadsack and Peter McCombie MW. Cox said: Chile now truly is a one-stop shop for the modern, discerning wine lover.'

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Quality Drinks Awards

Published:  23 July, 2008
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Restructure at Pernod

Published:  23 July, 2008

Pernod Ricard has streamlined its management structure, with four major regions defined and four main brand owners.
The regions are: Pernod Ricard Europe (excluding France), led by Thierry Billot, which boasts a 33% share of net sales; Americas, headed by Michael Bord; Asia, led by Philippe Drano; and Pacific, run by Laurent Lacassagne.
The brand owners are: Chivas Brothers, led by Christian Porta; Martell Mumm Perrier-Jout, run by Lionel Breton; Ricard SA, with Philippe Savinel at the helm; and Pernod SA, headed by Pierre Coppr.
Patrick Ricard said that the reorganisation would simplify the group's structure.

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Nolan joins Argento from Cellar Door

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Argento Wine Company (AWC) has appointed Amelia Nolan as its general manager.
A graduate of the University of Adelaide and Roseworthy College, Nolan joins Argento from Constellation Europe, where she worked in marketing and sales for the Cellar Door division. She has also been brand manager for Hardy's.
AWC MD Dan Jago said: I am delighted that we have got someone of such a high calibre on board - this is just what the Argentine category needs. With Amelia's leading brand experience and international outlook, we are very positive about Argento's future.'

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