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The Interview: Nicolas Angelina, Operations manager, Volt Lounge, London

Published:  23 July, 2008

What made you open this style bar?
It was something the next generation of the family wanted. When the Antouns first came to London, after 25 years of running restaurants in Paris, they chose Hobart Place for the classical style of Lebanese dining. Then the Mango Tree took over next door; there was an empty space between that and Noura, so they thought, Why not something new?' For us, Volt means electricity, energy!

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Due South

Published:  23 July, 2008

This year's ViniSud will be the biggest yet. More than 1,500 producers are expected in the south of France, along with 32,000 visitors.
ViniSud is essentially a shop window for the entire Mediterranean. And while the majority of exhibitors are French-based, the event also showcases the following countries: Italy, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Macedonia.

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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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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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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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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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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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Don't miss out on the 04s

Published:  23 July, 2008

Despite, or perhaps rather because of, the plethora of 2004 Burgundy tastings in London last week, a consensus on the quality and style of the vintage was slow to emerge, raising questions among tasters as to whether the sampling of still-unfinished wines was even more treacherous than usual. All those who tasted the wines early last year agreed that the wines have benefited enormously from levage, including exceptionally long malolactic fermentations, but that they have often tightened up when bottled as samples.

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Ex uno plures: Robert Parker and the Grand Jury Europen

Published:  23 July, 2008

The questions have often been asked, with growing urgency, over recent years: who can rival and who will succeed Robert Parker as the dominant influence in the world of fine wine? The answer, almost certainly, is nobody - at least no individual - to which many, though not all, will heave a sigh of relief.
One doesn't have to subscribe to a cometh the hour, cometh the man' theory of history to recognise that Parker was a dedicated, talented individual in the right place at the right time. In all likelihood, nobody else will be able or willing to devote himself or herself so single-mindedly to the task; nobody else will have the resources, financial or physical; nobody else will have the sheer stamina. Moreover, Parker announced in 2003 that he intended to carry on for another 10 years.

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Majestic results again

Published:  23 July, 2008

The picture emerging from Britain's high streets is of a mixed Christmas and New Year. While some companies are reporting better-than-expected like-for-like sales compared with 2004, others have issued profits warnings, and there are fears that business in the first few days of the New Year have been very slow. Majestic Wine, however, did better than most by increasing its like-for-like sales by 5.2% in the nine weeks from 1 November to 2 January.

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The Aus-thentic experience

Published:  23 July, 2008

Paul Henry, general manager of Wine Australia, introduces the 2006 Australia Day Tastings, Authentic Australia': It is every country's desire to populate the wine market with democratising brands, as well as compelling reasons to trial and trade up. The search for a profitable mix that uniquely balances accessibility with interest is a challenge, and one that Australia seeks to deliver above all other categories. It
can do so by representing itself as a broad and inclusive producer that seeks to champion quality and excitement, whatever the price point. That is what is meant by Authentic Australia.

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Screwcap initiative goes global

Published:  23 July, 2008

The New Zealand Screwcap Initiative has decided to encompass the world and form the International Screwcap Initiative (ISI).
Chablis producer Michel Laroche, who, controversially, bottled some of his grand cru wines under screwcap, has been enlisted as European representative of the ISI, while Lorraine Carrigan has been appointed ISI coordinator.

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Happy anniversary

Published:  23 July, 2008

Time and place
New Zealand Annual Trade Tasting 2006
Lord's Cricket Ground, London NW1
Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 January
10am-5pm
Contact Alison Power at New Zealand Winegrowers
020 7973 8079

Event info
This year's tasting will feature a selection of gold medal-winning wines from the Air New Zealand Wine awards, while central varietal tables will focus on aromatics, red blends and Syrahs. On Tuesday 17 at 3.30pm, a seminar titled New Zealand Syrah - New World Fruit and Old World Structure', looking at viticultural and vinicultural influences and Hawkes Bay's dominance with Syrah, will be held in the Lord's Media Centre. Speakers include Steve Smith of Craggy Range, Kate Ormond of Te Mata, Anna-Barbara Helliwell of Unison, and Ronan Sayburn, executive head sommelier at Gordon Ramsay restaurants in London. Call Alison Power on the above number to reserve your seat.

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Oeneo goes supercritical

Published:  23 July, 2008

Oeneo - the French-owned closure company formerly known as Sabat - has opened a plant capable of mass-producing Diam, the world's only taint-free' cork-based closure.

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Hospital cases

Published:  23 July, 2008

The significance of the 145th Hospices de Beaune auction on Saturday and Sunday 19-20 November was wider than that of its historic role as a predictor of the price trend for the most recent vintage. As in Bordeaux, so in Burgundy, 2005 is being hailed as an exceptionally high-quality vintage, while this year the auction was being conducted by Christie's and opened to private buyers for the first time. The auction prices - which have been an accurate predictor of the general trend in 12 of the past 13 years - were therefore anticipated even more keenly than usual.

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Goliath in the Cellar

Published:  23 July, 2008

Constellation Europe's premium wine division, Cellar Door, has confirmed that it will add Rex Goliath, the California wine brand acquired last month by Constellation Brands, to its portfolio.

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Argentina must beware the Malbec pigeonhole

Published:  23 July, 2008

Paul Hobbs, the consultant winemaker best known for developing Argentinian Malbec for the likes of Nicolas Catena, has warned that Argentina is in danger of concentrating too much of its effort on the Malbec grape variety.

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Canadian club

Published:  23 July, 2008

Picture something quintessentially Canadian. For many people, that prompt either draws a complete blank or it connotes polar bears, the Inuit (formerly known as Eskimos) and perhaps ice hockey. But vineyards and barrel-lined cellars don't fit among those frosty symbols. Wine is not really a Canadian emblem. At least not in the public mind. Informed oenophiles and members of the drinks trade, however, recognise Canada as the world's largest source of, appropriately enough, Icewine.

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MMD in Piedmont

Published:  23 July, 2008

MMD has taken on the UK agency for Pio Cesare, a family-run producer of Piedmont wines.
Pio Cesare is managed by fourth generation, Pio Boffa, who commented: With our 52 hectares of vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco, we embrace both traditional and more modern winemaking and also produce a range of single-vineyard wines from Barolo and Barbaresco.' A full range of Pio Cesare wines is now available from MMD, including Gavi, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Barolo and Barbaresco.

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LFE moves into San Antonio

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chilean producer, Via Luis Felipe Edwards (LFE) has purchased 162 hectares of land in the Leyda Valley sub zone of the recently discovered San Antonio Valley.
Located 10 kilometres from the Pacific Coast, the new vineyards will be planted predominantly with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with smaller plots of Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Riesling. Planting of the first 60 hectares will commence in 2006, with the first harvest anticipated in 2009.

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