Archive for 2010

To BYO or not to BYO, that is the question…..

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

EpsilonI’m all for enterprising new wine ventures but since when did BYO become serious? The Bring Your Own Wine Club launched a couple of months ago, you may have heard about it they got a slot on the BBC news. The concept is simple, the founders have;

partnered with many of London’s best restaurants — all of whom otherwise prohibit BYO or normally charge a hefty corkage fee — to offer wine lovers the privilege of bringing their own special bottles to accompany their meals for no or reasonable corkage fees.” (www.byowineclub.com)

Hmmmm, another elitist wine related company, just what we need.

For me BYO exists to fill a need that’s the exact opposite of what the BYO Wine Club has established. It means you can treat yourself to a good bottle of wine, some good food and get out of doing the dishes, wouldn’t you say? In fact I think Britain could do with a few more BYO restaurants for exactly that reason, not so some Champagne Charlie has the chance to try an overpriced bottle of Bordeaux Daddy bought en primeur… Oh and did I mention the £99 annual membership fee? What’s that you say Mr.BYOwineclub? You’d like me to pay you to have the privilege of opening my own wine in a restaurant that isn’t even yours? Really??

Non, I don’t think so. ………

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How long would it take you to drink 144,000 litres of wine?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Introducing Gavin Williams from www.wineoftheweek.co.uk, the first male writer brave enough to become a Bouquet Best Friend!!

giant_caskA giant wine barrel capable of holding 144,000 litres of wine has been refilled for the first time in 400 years.

The super-sized barrel sits within a German hunting mansion in the Saxony-Anhault town of Halberstadt. According to the Guinness Book of Records it’s the world’s oldest giant wine cask measuring five metres in diameter and weighing in at a whopping 63 tonnes.

Work commenced on the cask in 1592 and was completed two years later in time for the wedding of the Duke of Brunswick to Princess Elisabeth of Denmark. Reportedly it took them twelve years to drink the cask dry after which it fell into neglect.

Let us just consider that for a moment. ………

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The face behind the wine label….

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Harrods_CrianzaIn the world of wine the faces behind the labels are often as celebrated as the wines themselves, to taste a wine with its winemaker is considered a privilege and the occasion rarely disappoints.

It was then with anticipation that I was invited to taste Harrods own label wines with Wine & Spirit Buyer, Alistair Viner in their immense wine store in Knightsbridge. Ok so he may not be the wine maker but Alistair is without doubt the face behind Harrods’ own label wines. Having been at the helm of the wine department for over 14 years he has had plenty of time to perfect the range and put his stamp on the wines that he proudly presented to me.

Côtes du Rhône, Sancerre, Rioja, St Emilion et al. are among the Harrods range that completes the classic wine making regions of the world. If a little predicable in the selection, all wines are from the old world, then this is the only short coming I could find. The ………

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The trouble with wines by the glass episode III…..

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Mr&Mrs Smith France

There is definitely a little je ne sais quoi in the air…. Bastille Day followed by the Tour de France, topped off with the launch party of Mr & Mrs Smith’s Hotel Collection – France. I love cycling but I only took part in two of the events above, naturellement.

1. Bastille Day at Battersea Park proved France is anything but out of favour with Londoners as queues for the country’s gastronomic delights were consistently longer than my patience can handle!

2. The launch of Mr & Mrs Smith’s Hotel Collection – France, embraced an air of shabby chic that only West London and parts of Paris can get away with and still retain their cool edge as we hung out in Notting Hill’s quaint Travel Book Shop drinking Champagne Ruinart Brut NV and eating our body weight in cheese from the dangerously waist-expanding La Fromagerie. ………

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Miss Bouquet’s World Wine Flag – The Results!

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

WWF_logoThe results are in! The wines selected to fly the Miss Bouquet World Wine Flag are ready to be revealed! Last month, when England was still in the World Cup and the St George’s cross was freckling the streets I got a group of football widows together for a night flying a flag of a different kind. The World Wine Flag. Red, white and rosé of course.

Why? Well I’ve sat through my fair share of formulaic wine trade seminars in my time, you know the ones with the dramatic sounding titles that lead you to believe that by attending this seminar you’ll walk away with the key to abundant wine sales at profitable margins for years to come. My most recent experience of this time wasting exercise was at the London International Wine Fair 2010 in May. The seminar was alluringly titled:

“Where is the UK wine category heading”

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A rosé by any other name….

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

les maison languedoc-Roussillon_logoThe other day I was invited to … drum roll please…. ‘the world’s first synchronised wine tasting!’ An event where wine, technology and a truly international palate would meet. The concept seemed simple – 90 wine specialists (journalists, bloggers, wine educators) from across the world would taste the same wines at the same time and be connected via video link to the winemakers*. Hosted by the Sud de France, one of France’s many generic bodies responsible for promoting produce from the area, I was invited to taste 5 wines** chosen as the standard bearers of the region at their London offices in Cavendish Square.

In the spirit of the high tech event that it was I had been asked to bring my laptop, naturellement, so I could ‘blog’ about what was happening in real time. On arrival though it was clear to see the genre of the event hadn’t registered in the minds of some, and despite the video link equipment around the room only 4 of us had the right tools to fully participate. A reflection of the wine trades inability to keep up with what is now the most basic of technologies? Perhaps. But what then does it say about wine journalism when 2 of the remaining invitées had to be supplied with notebooks! Seriously. ………

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