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National TV campaign for Wolf Blass

Published:  11 October, 2010

Australian wine brand Wolf Blass has launched a national TV advertising campaign.


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.


Constellation Wines goes solar

Published:  04 October, 2010

Constellation Wines, is to expand its solar initiative to become the producer of the largest amount of solar energy in the U.S. wine industry.


Townsend to move from Louis Latour to head up Foster's UK wine division

Published:  01 October, 2010

Foster's EMEA has revealed the outcome of the restructuring of its wine division, Treasury Wine Estates, which will see Dan Townsend switch from Louis Latour Agencies to become its general manager for UK and Ireland.


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.


Expectations high for Bordeaux's 2010 vintage

Published:  28 September, 2010

Geoffrey Dean writes for The Times and is currently studying for WSET exams.


Gondola changes name to

Published:  28 September, 2010 has rebranded its name to after feedback from a customer survey.


Burgundy harvest starts early

Published:  23 September, 2010

Burgundy harvest starts early

Published:  23 September, 2010

More bid speculation for Foster's wine interests

Published:  21 September, 2010

Rumours are circulating about another bid for Treasury Wine Estates, the wine division of Foster's.


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.


Nine new MWs announced

Published:  03 September, 2010

The Institute of Masters of Wine has announced nine new Masters of Wine to its membership following the results of its 2010 examination.


Foster's EMEA becomes Treasury Wine Estates EMEA

Published:  02 September, 2010

Treasury Wine Estates EMEA will become the new identity for Foster's EMEA Limited, from today.


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.


Berry Bros & Rudd to match red wine with fish

Published:  25 August, 2010

Berry Bros & Rudd is using science in an attempt to prove that red wine does go with fish after all.


Head winemaker for Mont Tauch

Published:  24 August, 2010

Mont Tauch, Fitou's largest cooperative, has appointed Jean-Philippe Trollet as head winemaker.


Vinea to hold its 17th annual wine fair

Published:  23 August, 2010

Switzerland's most important wine fair Vinea is to run its 17th show offering several new features.


Andrew Catchpole's final Regional Heroes blog from Australia

Published:  23 August, 2010

From the Hills to Clare Valley, where a cracking turn out of winemakers reinforces one of the best masterclass tastings of the trip, fronted by the region's lime-slaked, bone dry signature style of Riesling.


Dave and Diane Palmer of Skillogallee, Jeffrey Grosset of Grosset and Stephanie Toole of Mount Horrocks were just a few of the dozen leading Clare winemakers who joined us for a tasting lunch following a serious crack at Clare sub-regionality under the guidance of Kilikanoon's Kevin Mitchell.


Flights of the superb 02 and '09 Riesling were shown blind, followed by a bracket of iconic Clare Shiraz (think Jim Barry's 'The Armagh' and Tim Adams 'Aberfeldy'), before launching into a lunch which then opened the field on Clare's myriad styles, including plush Cabernet-driven wines epitomised by Grosset's seamless Gaia and Mount Horrrock's seductive Semillon.


It was the Rieslings, though, that really pinpointed the character of Clare, as we traced a progression from warmer, fleshier Auburn in the lower Valley via the well-structured complexities of Watervale and Sevenhill to the tightly knit, mineral charged wines of Polish Hill. '02's, especially from sub-regions showing more minerally, tighter character in youth, also impressed upon our group how well Clare Riesling can age.


After such a whirlwind tour of cool and cooler climate regions it was intriguing to contemplate how Barossa, king of the blockbuster Shiraz, would show after such a run of aromatic Rieslings, fresh and restrained Chardonnays, vibrant Pinot Noirs, cooler region savoury Shiraz/Syrahs a host of other up-and-coming varieties including Rhone whites, Italians (Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Nero d'Avola, Fiano and Arneis, among others), plus the odd dollop of good-looking Tempranillo.


It was pretty simple and quite a coup. The Barossa boys and girls pulled out their Old Vine Charter and soaked our palates with flights of Old Vine (35+ years of age), Barossa Survivor Vine (70+), Barossa Centenarian Vine (100+) and Barossa Ancester Vine (125+). These old vines are - no cliché here - a national treasure and given the extraordinary combination of balance, harmony and concentration that overwhelmingly informed this superb flight of 12 Barossa classics, it seems churlish to single out any single wines. However, an '07 Cirillo Estate Vineyard Grenache, from 1850 plantings, and a 164 year old '05 Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz deserve special mention.


The final stages of this Regional Heroes trip played out in the Barossa and its more elevated sister region Eden with visits to a trio of wineries, all very different and all thoroughly enjoyable, not least for their more intimate tours and tastings after so many masterclasses in so many and such contrasting regions. It was a good reminder of something that Australia does well - namely approachable and down to earth winemakers. Stephen Henschke of Henschke, Louisa Rose at Yalumba and Christie Schulz at Turkey Flat all proved generous with both their time and their wines, including some exciting barrel and tank work where we again looked at some very promising 2010 wines in the making.


After 300+ wines, nine regions, a wealth of masterclasses, innumerable visits, the chance to look at a wealth of 'new wave' varieties and style coming on line, along with the emerging and established classic Australian styles, and what could generally be described as a pretty full-on immersion in the current wine scene Down Under, the Regional Heroes delegates - Rachael, Robert and Matt - agreed that they had only scratched the surface in terms what Australia offers. But the depth and diversity of that offer was clearly apparent. All in all a great trip and some superb wines.


Carol Emmas reviews Roux at Parliament Square

Published:  16 August, 2010

It was a sad day for me when the peace protesters were removed from Parliament Square - where some had camped for almost a decade.


Speaker highlights at Top Merchants, Bristol conference

Published:  03 August, 2010

Speaker highlights from the Top Merchants conference held in Bristol on July 19.