Wine news January 2009

Berrys’ Big Red Nose Ch. Latour Dinner.

An extraordinary charity dinner will take place in the Napoleon Cellar, beneath Berrys’ London shop on 3 St James’s Street on Friday 13th March 2009. Bids are now being taken via for the 55 spaces available. The dinner will be hosted by Jancis Robinson MW, Frederic Engérér of Ch. Latour and Simon Berry. A four-course menu prepared by Berrys’ brigade of chefs will be matched with nine vintages of Ch. Latour – 1991, 1983, 1981, 1978, 1975, 1973, 1971, 1967 and 1964, all shown in double magnum or even larger formats. Wine Relief has raised over £2.7 million as part of the Red Nose Day campaigns, and Berry Bros. & Rudd will also donate to Wine Relief 10% of all sales of Good Ordinary Claret, its best selling wine, in the six weeks before Red Nose Day. An online auction in aid of the charity will feature lots including a private tutored tasting with Jancis Robinson MW and Dinner for 10 in the Director’s Dining Room. x

Mystery wine shoppers

Adon Kumar, the General Manager of, presented the results of the Online Mystery Shopping Study at the International Wine Clubs Association Conference in Vienna recently. A sample of 50 online wine retailers in the USA, UK and Europe were Mystery Shopped twice over an elapsed period of one month. The purpose of the study was to assess and benchmark a broad sample of online retailers and track retailer performance against online best practices. The study covered Wine Website design, E-commerce facility and retailer responsiveness to the mystery shoppers’ requests for products and services. The study showed that 49% of the retailer’s websites were satisfactory in design rather than excellent in terms of online best practice. Retailer responsiveness to email x

queries was positive overall, but 34% did not respond to the mystery shopper’s email. Around 67% of the shoppers found it easy to locate the email contact details on the websites. With respect to specific or personalized responses to email, 73% of the retailers provided specific replies, but 20% of the shoppers were disappointed with the results they got to their email enquiries.In summary, the study showed that a small percentage of retailers provide exceptional service while another small group fell short in delivering basic customer service.The full Mystery Shopping presentation is available online on Wine-Searcher’s website at:

The Kamptal Camp

Just as the New World follows centuries of European tradition by classifying itself into ever tighter geographical zones of wine production, the old world is still refining its game too. In Austria, Kamptal has acquired ‘DAC ‘ (Districtus Austriae Controllatus ) appellation status. From January 1st 2009 the Kamptal name can only be used for wines made from Grüner Veltliner and Riesling, and from the beginning of April this will be joined by a second DAC of Kamptal Reserve. The winemakers say they want to “emphasize the very special aroma and taste profile of this distinctive part of the Danube region.” Kamptal is Austria’s fifth wine-growing area (after Weinviertel, x

Mittelburgenland, Kremstal and Traisental) to adopt the DAC appellation system which guarantees that the origin of the grapes and ensures consumers that the aromas and flavours are characteristic of the wines from the area. The range of grape varieties as well as the style of maturation are defined according to DAC criteria and controlled for quality.

Geoffrey Roberts Award 2009

Do you know a potential achiever in the world of food and drink? Or someone who can really make a difference in either of these fields? Please tell them about the Geoffrey Roberts Award, an annual travel award of £3,000 (about $5,000 at current rates) that is given each year to someone who can convince the judges that their proposed trip is really worthwhile. Applications for the 2009 Award, via, close on 31 March 2009. Applicants of any age or nationality are welcome. There were two equal winners in 2008, Magdalena Eriksson and Nelle Gretzinger, both of New York City. Magdalena intends to develop products based on the conical, white-fleshed variety of pineapple grown in Ghana, whilst Nelle Gretzinger will be working to establish the commercial cultivation of vanilla in southern Belize. x

Desert wine?

Since January 3rd competitors in the Dakar rally have been racing across an ambitious and challenging route across the plains of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, the desert of Atacama and a mountain pass through the Andes, as part of the Dakar 2009 challenge. 530 teams set off from Buenos Aires on the 3rd January, with 230 motorbikes, 30 quads, 188 cars and 82 trucks. All are aiming to capture the coveted title of this prestigious race, reputed to be the most difficult in the world. Amongst the teams is one sponsored by Bordeaux’s François Lurton. Michel Turon-Barrère and Jean-Marc Monbeig are taking part under the name “Team Omega,” with the final stages being reached on January 18th. Good luck to the Lurton team. x