Wine news for February 2015

Hobbs in Hot Water

x Featured recently on wine-pages, Californian wine producer Paul Hobbs is paying $100,000 to settle a civil lawsuit brought by Sonoma County prosecutors last year. The lawsuitt alleged environmental and land-use violations in three vineyard conversion projects, where Hobbs was accused of causing soil erosion into a stream and of bulldozing a Christmas tree farm without a permit amongst other violations. The alleged violations could have cost millions of dollars in penalties, but a settlement has been reached said Christopher O’Gorman, Paul Hobbs’ spokesman. “We’re just happy to put it behind us,” O’Gorman is quoted as saying. “Now we can go on to farming and making great wine.”

Living Wine History

xA team of researcher from the Spanish National Research Council will study the oldest herbarium of grapevine varieties in the world, in collaboration with Jos´ Estévez, one of the main winery groups in Andalusia which owns nearly 800 hectares of vineyards. The project is lead by CSIC researcher Maria del Carmen Martinez who will use ampelographical techniques and DNA to identify the varieties of grapevines in the herbarium, which has been preserved since 1802 in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid. The project will seek to determine exactly which varieties are currently grown, and which have disappeared. Joining the effort are researchers from the Madrid Botanical Gardens and from Montpellier in France.”The data collected so far indicate that this is the oldest herbarium of cultivated grapevines in the world,” says Martinez. The next oldest, he adds, would be a herbarium in France that dates back to 1870. The Madrid herbarium was created by Simón de Rojas Clemente y Rubio, and consists of 186 herbarium sheets, each including the leaves and dried buds of a specific variety. All the samples were collected in areas of Andalusia. Since then, they have been kept at the research centre in Madrid, along with more than 1,000,000 different specimens, which make up the largest herbarium of vascular plants.

Wine Shortlist

xInterviewed by Drinks Business magazine, Damian Carrington, commercial director at Fields Morris Verdin, one of London’s most important supplier of wines to restaurants, said his company was seeing a trend was towards “Shorter wine lists that change more regularly, with much more wines by the glass.” And the motivation behind shorter lists? “Rents are so high in London and so are staff costs, so you have to keep lean, so restaurants can’t afford to put together 100 bins, let alone 500 bins, so you have to have a tight wine list that works.” As for faster changing lists, it’s a more positive reason according to Carrington: “People want to be interested all the time. There is a very international clientele that may like the familiarity of one restaurant, but they don’t want to eat the same thing, and it’s the same wine-wise too.”

Drinking Classes

xClass is no longer a barrier to British adults shopping for food and alcohol at Aldi or Lidl, according to new research from the Wilson Drinks Report (WDR).Their research has shown that 45% of adults in the socio-economic group ABC1 had shopped at Aldi or Lidl over a three month period, which is exactly the same percentage they recorded for the lower demographic group C2DE. Tim Wilson, Managing Director of WDR, commented: “In the past we might have expected a much higher propoprtion of C2DE shoppers to buy food and alcohol at the big discounters. However our new research confirms that the upper and middle classes are just as happy to grab a bargain. Inititiatives like the recent launch of premium French wine in Lidl, endorsed by a Master of Wine, only adds to the increasing credibility of the discounters in the minds of the shopper.”

A Chukka of Champagne?

xChampagne Louis Roederer has announced its appointment as Official Champagne Partner to Cowdray Park Polo Club. It is the first time the family-owned Champagne House has sponsored a sporting event, and Sales & Marketing Director UK Richard Billett comments: “We are extremely pleased to be embarking on this collaboration. [It is] a club with great heritage and whose Gold Cup is arguably the most prestigious event in the sport.” Champagne Louis Roederer will sit beside new headline sponsors Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has been Official Timekeeper to Cowdray Park Polo Club since 2006. Peter Barfoot, Chairman, Cowdray Park Polo Club adds: “We are delighted to welcome Louis Roederer as Official Partner to Cowdray Park Polo Club, joining a growing list of prestigious names keen to be associated with the Home of British Polo.” The new season opens 25th April.

Dreams of Abadía Retuerta

xAbadía Retuerta LeDomaine, a super-luxury hotel formed from a 12th century abbey surrounded by vineyards in Spain’s Duero reopens in March with a new spa and guest rooms. It’s not exactly cheap with rooms starting at €370 per night, but it does come with its own Michelin-starred restaurant and guest experience programmes such as wild mushroom hunting in local forests. The new spa includes a very in vogue ‘vinotherapy’ concept with, believe it or not, your own ‘Spa Sommelier’. Eight new guest rooms have direct spa access. The hotel restaurant, ‘Refectorio’, received its first start in November, Head Chef Pablo Montero having trained at 3-star Mugaritz and 2-star Andoni Luis Aduriz. Dishes are matched with wines of the Abadía Retuerta estate. See more at