Wine news July 2008

Roederer shortlist

I am very chuffed that I have been short-listed by the judges of this year’s Champagne Roederer Wine Writing Awards. There are several categories of award, and I have been short-listed for the title of International Online Wine Writer of the Year for my work here on wine-pages. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 8th, to be held in London’s Somerset House. I’m up against stiff competition, but as wine-pages comes up for the 13th anniversary of its publication I can’t deny that it would be nice to win! x

Top Ten Brands

x Trade newspaper Off Licence News has just released its annual overview of the UK wine industry called the ‘Wine Report’. Amongst the data are figures for Britain’s 50 top-selling off-trade brands. No great surprises, but the top ten are: 1. Hardys (1)2. Blossom Hill (3)3. Gallo (2)4. Jacob’s Creek (4)5. Stowells (5)6. Wolf Blass (6)7. Lindemans (7)8. Echo Falls (10)9. Kumala (8)10. Banrock Station (9).The figures in brackets are last year’s position. Five of the top 10 come from the giant Constellation Brands and two come from Fosters, so seven of the top 10 are made by just two companies. Highest “new entry” for the 2008 table is Ogio, a Tesco exclusive from Italy at #41. Biggest climber is McGuigan, up 18 places from #47 to #25, whilst the biggest faller is Paul Masson, down from #28 to #42. McWilliams, Luis Felipe Edwards, Chileno, Faustino and Calvet all dropped out of the top 50. No Yellow Tail in the top 50 as yet (see Tom Cannavan’s feature on Yellow Tail) but what’s the betting for a top 20, or even top 10 place this time next year?

Banrock Station goes Eco

Leading Australian brand Banrock Station is keen to prove its eco-friendly credentials, and indeed a recent project sees them putting their money where their mouth is by supporting a plan to re-flood the area after which the brand was named, The Banrock Station wetland. Partial refilling of the wetland began in June, in order to prevent irreversible damage to the environment, protect habitats for vulnerable plant and animal species and boost the overall health of the vital River Murray system. Banrock Station has paid for 215 million litres of water to be diverted to the wetland. Banrock Station’s manager Mr Tony Sharley said “As the wetland fills, we will also be monitoring the water quality for things such as oxygen, salinity and turbidity. This sort of monitoring and research helps us to better understand the important role played by wetlands like Banrock Station in the overall health of the River Murray system.” 

Banrock Station launched Ecomate six months ago, available in Tetra Pak from Tesco at £6.49. 77% of the packaging is derived from renewable resources; and it requires less energy to produce and transport than other forms of packaging.


World Sauvignon Congress

x Well, Pinot Noir and Syrah certainly have their own share of festivals and congresses, so I guess there’s no reason why Sauvignon Blanc should miss out on a party. The venue is Graz in Austria, and the date is 26th-29th August 2008. The Congress will look at the vastly different expressions of Sauvignon Blanc that exist, and ask key questions like “Which wines for which markets?” A panel including Britain’s Tim Atkin MW and US importer Bartholomew Broadbent will discuss this and other issues. There is a full programme of seminars, tastings, lunches and dinners, and day tickets start at 336 Euros, whilst a three-day pass costs 984 euros. Full details from

Blogging about wine

x The first ever conference for leading wine bloggers around the world will be held in La Rioja, Spain, this August Bank Holiday. Participants will gather to discuss the impact wine blogging is having on the world of wine and its benefits to trade and consumer alike.Organised by Robert McIntosh, a member of the UK’s wine blog community, who writes at, and Ryan & Gabriella Opaz at – a website dedicated to educating people about Spanish and Portuguese wine – the conference aims to bridge the communication gap between winemakers and wine lovers around the world. Check it out at

taste of the hard stuff

Edencroft Fine Wines is giving whisky lovers the opportunity to attend a tutored tasting of twelve whiskies from around the world (Scotland, Ireland, Japan and the U.S.A.) with the highly-respected whisky writers Mr Jim Murray. Edencroft’s Mark Brookshaw says “Jim is a colossus in the world of whisky. Author of many highly acclaimed books on the spirit, he has visited more distilleries globally than any living person since his first, Talisker, back in 1975. Jim’s immense experience and vast knowledge of world whisky have secured his place as the world’s leading authority on the subject.”The event takes place on Friday 10th October at Crewe Hall, Western Road, Crewe, and is priced at £40.00 per person (inclusive of all tasting whiskies). See x

A passion for Cognac?

x 23 lots of very fine and rare Cognac will go under the hammer on Thursday 25 September 2008 during the third ‘Part des Anges’ (Angel’s Share) international charity auction and gala dinner. With lots estimated at between €150 and €3,500, it is hoped to top last year’s total of €26,520, which was raised for the French charity, the Fondation de France. Cognac houses have made donations that include rare bottles, old vintages and unique blends of Cognac that are presented in sumptuous decanters and cases. Cognac lovers who wish to take part can view the catalogue and bid by email at