Wine news September 2015

All new Berrys

web site 300-year-old wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd continues to innovate, and they have just launched a completely new web site. With an attractively fresh and decidedly un-fusty design, the new site has simplified the visitor exprience, but retains the rich features of the previous version. Berry Bros’ E-Commerce Director Charlie Bennet said: “It was something of a revelation when we unveiled, back in 1994. As the first wine merchant to launch its own website, we were stepping into the unknown – little did we know how much we would come to depend on the so-called World Wide Web.” Twenty one years on, he says “Much like our business as a whole, our website has continued to expand and evolve, and we felt the time had come for to undergo a slightly more serious facelift. Over recent months, our Internet team has been labouring on a new-look, world-class site. Aside from the refreshed design, the new site has improved navigation and search, a simpler shopping experience, richer product detail, is fully responsive for Mobile and now has enhanced security. This will all provide a superior customer experience.” Visit

Spain Uncorked in Edinburgh

landscape If you live in or around Edinburgh you may wish to join me for a fabulous evening tasting the wines of Ribera del Duero and Rueda in northem Spain. I’ve been invited to host the evening by the Councils of both regions, and there will be a walk-round tasting of 35 wines, food and wine matching sessions, and I’ll be delivering a masterclass too. Tickets for the event cost £15 and the masterclass is free, but is strictly limited to the first 30 people to buy a main event ticket – please tick the box for the masterclass when you buy tickets from This Link. The event is on the evening of Wednesday 14th October 2015, open from 18:00 to 21:00, and is being held at The Glasshouse, five minutes from Waverly Station at 2 Greenside Row.

Hail to Burgundy

hail Within days of me publishing a report from Burgundy that mentioned how hail was still a major problem for winegrowers (“Hail is the major climatic problem – there were 275 days when hail fell somewhere in France last year” – Louis Fabrice Latour), a violent hailstorm hit Chablis overnight on the 31st August. Initial reports estimated that up to 15% of the vineyards – mostly premier and grand cru – had been hit, though thankfully the official wine body for Burgundy has now confirmed that 5% of the surface area in Chablis was hit in the storm and they say “a few” plots of premier and grand cru have suffered. Further south in Saint-Bris losses of up to 50% have been reported, and up to 60% in Irancy, depending on the specific vineyard site. Louis Latour is one producer currently experimenting with hail-protection nets, a common sight in hail-prone vineyards in the New World.

Majestic Definite

bottles Majestic Wine has launched an own label range called ‘Definition’, its first-ever own label wine range. Majestic say it was “Over two years in the making,” and is meant to “capture the quintessential qualities of the world’s greatest wine styles.” In fact, Tom Cannavan tasted all the wines just last week and by and large they are very successful, and not pitched at the bottom end of the market with Chablis, Sancerre, Central Otago Pinot Noir and similar mid-priced wines. Justin Apthorp, Majestic’s Buying Director, says: “The Definition range showcases what we consider to be the most important wine styles in the world. Each wine represents the definitive style of its region and they’re produced by some of the world’s leading winemakers.” Six of the Definition wines have already been launched in stores and online, the other six wines will be launched at the start of October 2015.