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Pernod Ricard groups international wines together

Published:  08 October, 2010

Pernod Ricard is to group its key international wine brands together under one umbrella - Premium Wine Brands - following a strategic review.

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Anne Krebiehl unravels the Pinot puzzle

Published:  29 September, 2010

The best thing about Monday's Pinot Puzzle was that all wines were served blind, having everyone guessing and trying to find common threads in the different country flights. London's wine glitterati (yes, they all turned up) were debating the comparative alcoholic heat, the integration of oak and the use of different clones in a spectacular line-up of Pinot Noirs from Oregon, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. Were those balanced, almost tender and pale wines at home in the Willamette Valley? Was the heat and power of one flight down to Californian, Australian or Central Otago sunshine? Did acidity and fruit-forwardness really point to Chile or was it Mornington Peninsula? Almost all got some flights spot on but mixed up others - also scrutinising bottles for clues via closures and bottle weight. The 66 wines were presented in Hardy's Brasserie, a small enough space to encourage lively discussion.

 

Astonishingly this was not a sponsored PR stunt, but the independent project of two wine PRs, Kate Sweet (of Hilltop Wines) and Jen McDonald (Mandarin Communications) and wine educator Angela Reddin. "This is not officially underwritten by any of the generic bodies or a client," says Sweet. "It is a hobby of Jen, Angela and myself who have an interest in Pinot Noir." Once word of the event got round, they had to turn away wines from Argentina, South Africa and Canada who also wanted their chance to shine. "It is just about looking at a snapshot of what the new world regions are doing with their Pinot Noir at the moment," Sweet explains. "We have tried to show a broad spectrum of wines. They are contenders, they are operational in the UK market and they are real alternatives to traditional styles of Burgundy. It demonstrates that new world areas are finding their feet."

 

The flights were revealed just before Gerard Bassett MW chaired a panel of winemakers to discuss the different countries' Pinot Noir traits which are finally emerging without constant, slavish comparison to Burgundy. Even Bassett confessed that he was "confused" after tasting the wines twice, especially since "each region has more than one style." Blair Walter of Felton Road in Central Otago reflected on the continuing evolution: "From a New Zealand point of view we have come a long way: the main developments have been viticultural. There's increasing vine age and a better understanding of how to farm our vineyards. We are more subtle on the winemaking side." He reckons that the new Pinot contenders in five years' time will probably be from South Africa and the Canadian Okanagan Valley. Mac Forbes of Woori Yallock in the Yarra Valley, Australia, made a similar point, saying that the right clones are ever more important for quality Pinot. As for winemaking, Forbes said there was "an increased confidence to be able to step back and allow the sites to express themselves more." Helen Masters of Ata Rangi in Martinborough, New Zealand was enthusiastic about all the wines: "Probably five years ago you might have seen more faults. You are able to see the countries and regions more clearly now. Overall, the quality made a huge leap in terms of what people are doing in the vineyard and the winery. People start to understand what clones, what rootstocks really suit their region. At the higher end it's actually harder because all the wines have such good quality, such good weight. In five year's time it's going to be even more exciting!" Many tasters commented, Christine Parkinson of Hakkasan emphasising that she was pleased to find "something delicate, something mysterious" in those Pinots.

 

The Pinot Puzzle showed how healthy it is to have one's ideas challenged. Tasting without preconception demonstrated the astonishing quality and variety of new world Pinot Noirs. The educational value of blind tasting was completely affirmed.

 

Some highlights:

Ponzi Reserve, 2008, Willamette Valley - Total definition of raspberry fruit on nose and palate with something more earthily aromatic in the background, ripe and fine tannins reveal their soft grip later. A wine of depth rather than power.

 

Ten Minutes by Tractor, 2008 Mornington Peninsula - Very pale, with savoury, classic Pinot varietal notes, reminiscent of the old world. Expressive elegance with structure, quiet power and spice.

 


Vina Leyda Lot 21 Pinot Noir, 2008, Leyda Valley - An atypical bouquet of fragrant, fresh fruit that almost turns into the perfume of dark conifers on the palate. Interesting despite a little too much extraction.

 

Marimar Estate, Cristina, 2005, Russian River Valley - Brick red colour, red-currants mingling with smoke and tar on nose and palate. Seductive, elegant power.

 

Felton Road, Block 3, 2007, Central Otago - Deep ruby colour, very fragrant and despite its heat a fine acidity and delicate spice. "This has some poetry," my tasting sheet scribbles say.

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Gondola changes name to yourfavouritewines.com

Published:  28 September, 2010

Gondola.co.uk has rebranded its name to yourfavouritewines.com after feedback from a customer survey.

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Richard Siddle dines at The Milroy

Published:  16 September, 2010

Walking into The Milroy you feel like you've stepped up a notch or two in social class, which is all part of its new-found appeal.

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Pernod Ricard ups investment by 30% for Christmas

Published:  27 August, 2010

Pernod Ricard has unveiled the firm's Christmas plans ? it has upped marketing investment by 30% for this year's focus on premium brands across TV ad campaigns, sponsorships and new packaging.

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Richard Siddle dines at The Milroy

Published:  29 July, 2010

Walking into The Milroy you feel like you've stepped up a notch or two in social class, which is all part of its new-found appeal. Previously you were only able to dine here if you were rich enough to pay the membership fee for what is essentially a private casino - Les Ambassadeurs Club.


Located on the cusp of Hyde Park, The Milroy is situated in what used to be one of Henry VIII's hunting lodges and its interior is still modelled on the fin de siècle Louis XV style incorporated in the 1870s. Dining here certainly makes you feel one step closer to royalty.


The food is European traditional, dressed up with a serious modern twist. It's the kind of menu where you need the staff to explain at least two ingredients per dish. But this is no surprise as head chef Simon Foster was trained by Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire.


Foams, juses and mousses run alongside Barnsley chops, ribs of beef, sole meunière and pan-fried skate.


The wine list is tilted to the Old World but evenly spread around the New World. With Cloudy Bay and Hunter Valley running up alongside Meursault, Pommard and Nuits St George. Under head sommelier Andres Lucas it features 200 bins, 10 by-the-glass at £7.50, and fairly priced bottles starting at £22.


Lunch here is a grand occasion. A step up and a step back in time. But well worth stepping up for.

 

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Montana rebrands to become Brancott Estate

Published:  23 June, 2010

Montana Wine has changed its name to Brancott Estate and is to be official sponsor of the 2011 rugby union World Cup.

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New Zealand wine industry welcomes smaller 2010 vintage

Published:  18 June, 2010

The 2010 New Zealand grape harvest totalled 266,000 tonnes - 19,000 tonnes smaller than in 2009.

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New Zealand wine industry awarded Government support

Published:  02 June, 2010

The New Zealand Government has announced a promotional package of support for the country's wine industry, to help overcome its current challenges.

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Cloudy Bay releases 2006 Riesling

Published:  14 May, 2010

Cloudy Bay, the New Zealand winemaker renowned for its sauvignon blanc, has released 1,500 bottles of 2006 Riesling for sale in the UK.

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Sir George Fistonich accepts charity role

Published:  12 May, 2010

Founder and managing director of Villa Maria Estate, Sir George Fistonich, is to replace the role left by the late Sir Edmund Hillary, as vice patron of Variety - The Children's Charity of New Zealand.

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Harpers to discuss UK's role in global wine market at LWIF

Published:  26 April, 2010

The UK's position in the global wine market will be the subject of the Harpers Debate at this year's London International Wine Fair.

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Draycott to head Gonzalez Byass sales

Published:  19 April, 2010

Former First Quench buyer Melissa Draycott has been named sales director of Gonzalez Byass UK.

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Rebecca Gibb - Winery workout - Marlborough day 6

Published:  17 April, 2010

It's only been a week since I arrived in Marlborough to work part of the 2010 vintage but I'm already in need of a rest!

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My Taste - big v small

Published:  16 April, 2010

Carol Emmas takes part in a blind tasting that pits the big brand Champagnes against the small growers.

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First Taste - Wairarapa

Published:  16 April, 2010

A snapshot of wines from New Zealand's Wairarapa region.

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Rebecca Gibb - Harvest hen do: Marlborough day 5

Published:  16 April, 2010

Winery dogs are so last year. The ultimate winery accessory this season is...a hen.

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New Zealand overtakes Germany in UK wine sales

Published:  15 April, 2010

New Zealand is claiming to have overtaken sales of German wine in the UK when looking at country of origin percentage shares.

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Rebecca Gibb - Weather-watching wineries: Marlborough day 4

Published:  15 April, 2010

Harvest time is all about the weather. And in true British style, the weather's one of my favourite subjects. It continues to turn out nice every day in Marlborough and, for those producers with grapes still to come in, that's great news. But for the crew at Jackson Estate, a nice bit of rain would be ideal.

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Rebecca Gibb - Milk Round: Marlborough day three

Published:  14 April, 2010

I have never seen 3000 cartons of milk in a vineyard but I had to believe my eyes this morning at Jackson Estate's newly-planted Pinot Noir site.

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