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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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IMW plans new tastings

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) has announced a drive for better communication with the trade through improved events and a more accessible approach.
The IMW intends to raise awareness for its educational programme through greater publicisation of its events programme, which will highlight three major tastings each year, focusing on Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhne Valley.
Masters of Wine events have traditionally attracted a limited cross-section of participants due to high ticket prices, but the IMW is keen to make them the definitive tastings for these regions, hoping people will be prepared to pay for and use them as a point of reference for all other relative events.

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Unwins buyer joins WSET

Published:  23 July, 2008

John Hart, who worked as Unwins' wine-sourcing manager until the company went into administration over the festive period, has joined the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
as examination coordinator.
Hart joined Unwins in 1982, working in stores for eight years, before moving to a training/human-resources role at head office. There, he ran WSET courses for Unwins staff, including Intermediate, Advanced and Diploma programmes.
He joined Unwins' buying department two and a half years ago, where, in his words, he watched the steady, painful decline from a ringside seat'.
Hart told Harpers: I am really pleased to still be involved in the wine business, and I suppose this is actually a fairly logical progression to my career.'

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Gravitas goes Spanish

Published:  23 July, 2008

Gravitas owner Martyn Nicholls has bought an 18-hectare
site in Andalusia, Spain, to produce Riesling.
Nicholls, whose wines have won nearly 60 medals in the past two years, said he drove 50,000 miles over five years across the world to find his ideal site.
He said: The site is 1,400m high, and it has Spain's biggest snow mountain behind it. The temperature is closer to that of the Rhine Valley than people would think. The soils are just like the Mosel Valley: schist and slate. There are only really about a dozen Riesling vineyards in Spain, mainly in Pnedes. In Spain, you have crisp, cold nights but also longer, warmer days. It's effectively the difference between Marlborough and the Loire with Sauvignon Blanc.'

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Syrah on the march

Published:  23 July, 2008

Plantings of Syrah are on the rise in New Zealand - at the expense of established varieties like Cabernet and Merlot.
The figures were discussed at a seminar titled New Zealand Syrah: New World Fruit, Old World Structure' at the annual trade tasting in London. Pinot Noir is in top spot by a country mile, but Syrah is gaining ground, albeit from a small base, with plantings up 418% since 1998. By 2007, there should be around 265 hectares (ha) of Syrah planted. Merlot is on the wane, plantings having peaked three years ago, while Cabernet has remained static at around the 1,500ha mark.

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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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