Wine news October 2007

H&H new website – and offer!

x Just added to wine-pages offers and discounts page is one to get the juices flowing: independent merchant H&H Bancroft have just launched a brand new online shop, and have made an exclusive offer to wine-pages visitors for the next two weeks only: 15% off of their core wines. Enter code WP15001 into the ‘voucher box’ on the shopping basket at One order per customer. The offer ends at

midnight on October 16th, and is strictly one order per customer. The offer excludes wines in their fine wine, sale wine and grand marque Champagne sections, but everything else is up for grabs including grower Champagnes and such brilliant producers as Ten Minutes By Tractor (Australia) and Simcic (Slovenia). The ‘Everyday Wines’ tab will bring up wines that will be available with the discount, but of course many more wines can be found using the search and grower functions. Happy hunting….

Malbec made for Meat

Regular readers will have seen my report from one of the rounds of a competition organised by Wines of Argentina, to find the best Malbec wines to match with traditional British roast beef, lamb and pork. The final was held in London recently, where the wines put forward from the heats battled it out for top spot. Bodega Catena Zapata’s Alta Malbec 2004 took the prize, from 14 wines that made it through to the final. Viña Doña Paula’s 2005 Malbec repeated its regional success winning Best with Pork but in the most closely contestedcategory, Best with Beef, Gouguenheim Malbec 2005 and Catena Malbec 2004 proved impossible to separate and so jointly won the trophy. “It’s been a great competition and one in which everyone who has participated in the tastings has very much enjoyed and learned from,” said James Forbes, x

Wines of Argentina’s UK Director. “Food and wine matching is a tricky thing at the bestof times and general principles hard to pin down, but I think we’ve proved beyond reasonable doubt that when it comes to meat, a good bottle of Malbec is hard to beat.”

Awards announced

x Both the International Wine Challenge and Decanter have just announced their 2007 awards winners, and details will be available on their respective web sites and magazines. Laithwaites scooped the award for Wine Merchant of the Year from Decanter, for their “good selection of offbeat wines” and “stunning” list from Bordeaux and Burgundy. Meanwhile, industry giant Tesco won Supermarket of the Year at the International Wine Challenge, the judges citing Tesco’s “comprehensive and exciting new portfolio of wines” and the success of its online operation as factors.



Wine-pages makes absolutely no claims for this new self-testing alcohol meter to have hit the UK market in time for the festive season, but its manufacturers describe it thus: “AlcoSense is a mobile phone-sized breathalyser developed specifically to UK regulations and unlike other breathalysers, uses special technology to ensure that it returns an accurate reading every time it’s used. Using the AlcoSense breathalyser is easy – simply breathe into the blow tube and it will display the level of alcohol in your blood and alert you if you are near or over the drink drive limit it. If AlcoSense gives you the all-clear, you can get into your car with confidence.” The machine retails at £59.99 and is available from x


Berry’s acquires Mistral

x Venerable but very active wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has just acquired the UK wine agency Mistral wines, which specialises in the wines of the Loire, Rhône and Midi. Berry Bros already boasts an enviable clutch of top-flight agencies (for which it has exclusive UK distribution rights) including Vega Sicilia, Ridge Vineyards, Champagne Jacquesson, Domaines Lafon, Carillon and Ostertag, Luciano Sandrone, Isabel Estate and Dog Point Vineyard, but their purchase of the Mistral operation brings new exclusivities, including the wines of Château de Beaucastel and Perrin et Fils.


Australia’s drought

There’s been a lot of media coverage of the announcement that production of Australian wine grapes could be down by as much as half this year, due to severe drought conditions. Wine Australia UK, the generic body for the Aussie industry, issued this statement: “The Wine Industry Drought Taskforce, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Wine Grape Growers’ Australia (WGGA) have recently announced that the 2008 harvest is likely to fall to between 800,000 tonnes and 1.3 million tonnes. The range of the estimated shortfall points to the difficulty in accurately determining an early insight into actual yields.Yields will decrease in regions that rely heavily on water from the Murray Darling, however it should also be noted that wine grapes and grape growing conditions in Australia vary significantly from region to region. Accordingly this year’s harvest is likely to see a notable change in mix from fruit sourced from inland irrigated regions to cooler areas in Australia less affected by drought or water access issues. x

There is a clear priority on behalf of the Australian wine sector to maintain supply and manage price in all key markets. However it is already acknowledged that the previous years’ opportunistic bulk sales will be the first exports to come under pressure. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation is still expecting growth in total sales to the UK market for the next 5 years.Australia will continue to supply a broad offering to consumers in the UK across all price points and from a diverse range of wine producing regions.”

Festival Fever part II…

x Last month’s news featured a slew of fairs and festivals about to hit out towns and cities. The onslaught continues from October 5th – 7th when the Viva Italia Show 2007 hits Olympia in London. Said to “celebrate the authentic, genuine and delicious flavours of the Italian kitchen,” the show includes a Wine Theatre that will host wine tasting stands and seminars. Andrea Rinaldi, director of the Italian Association of Sommeliers UK, will be launching the Viva Italia Wine Award, as well as electing the UK sommelier of the year in collaboration with the Worldwide Sommelier Association. Tickets from or call 0870 9063764. On the 16th and 17th of January 2008 the same venue hosts WINE+ an important wine event aimed at the wine on-trade (bars, clubs, restaurants, etc). A number of world wine luminaries will be hosting tasting events including broadcaster John Radford on Chile’s most exciting and innovative wines, and Gaia Gaja presenting a tasting of her father’s iconic Italian wines. Trade members can register free at Finally, the East Midlands Food and Drink Festival is on over the weekend of October 6 – 7th. Over 200 exhibitors and celebrity chefs Jean Christophe Novelli, Rachel Green and Clarissa Dickson Wright will entertain crowds at Brooksby Hall, four miles south of Melton Mowbray. Tickets from