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AROUND THE WORLD – November 2007

Winning winery: Cellar door celebrates huge haul of awards from wine competitions; Coca-cola opens chinese medicine centre; alcohol ‘improves memory’; and more….

Winning winery: Cellar door celebrates huge haul of awards from wine competitions
Cellar door is celebrating after being awarded a total of 46 gold, silver and bronze medals for Australian wines in its portfolio at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), International Wine Challenge (IWC) and Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 2007.

The Bay of Fires winery in Tasmania scooped two golds (Best in Class) for the Bay of Fires Tigress Riesling and Pinot Noir, along with silver for the Sauvignon Blanc at the IWSC 2007. The winery also received three silver medals at the IWC. 

Bay of Fires winemaker Fran Austin, who will be in London in early November for the Cellar Door annual tasting, was delighted with the results: “This year’s haul of medals for Bay of Fires proves that Tasmania is one of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming regions for cool climate wines.

“Our flagship wine, Arras, has already been recognised as one of the New World’s best sparklers, and it’s great that we are now getting awards for wines in our Tigress range as we strive to create elegant, balanced wines that express Tasmania’s unique terroir.”

Leasingham in Clare Valley also had a particularly good run of three silvers and six bronzes across the IWC, IWSC and DWWA awards.

The Cellar Door annual trade and press tasting will be held at the Tower of London on Wednesday 7 November.

Coca-Cola opens Chinese medicine centre
Last month saw the opening of the Coca-Cola Research Centre for Chinese Medicine, marking the soft drink giant’s intentions to produce products that make use of traditional Chinese remedies.

The centre, housed in the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, in Beijing, is the first of its kind to be opened by an international company.

According to the academy’s president Dr Hongxin Cao: “By joining forces with The Coca-Cola company we will be much more effective in bringing Chinese medicine to the world through packaged beverages.”

Dr Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola’s chief scientific and regulatory officer, commented: “We see this centre as an important step in strengthening our innovation pipeline for beverages that contribute to well-being.” Applebaum went on to say: “As the world’s largest beverage company, we can add global reach and world-class marketing skills to help promote Chinese wisdom in preventative holistic health through new and innovative beverages.”

Earlier in the year Coca-Cola announced that this investment would be worth US$80 million. The work done at the centre will combine both the company and the academy’s expertise, with an emphasis on Chinese herbal ingredients.

Spanish cork grower is accredited
Spanish cork grower, Oret Subericultura Group, has been granted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation.

The group’s 2,500 acres of cork forest are dedicated exclusively to producing cork stoppers for the wine industry. The company is the first Spanish cork grower to obtain this certification.

This independent accred-itation ensures that best practices are maintained, offering traceability throughout the production process. The certification is targeted at both buyers and consumers.

The non-profit, non-governmental organisation was set up by a number of organisations, including the WWF, in 1994. 

Nora Berrahmouni, the WWF’s Cork Oak Landscapes co-ordinator, commented: “We are confident that this success of Oret Subericultura will compel other cork producers to support their product’s place in the market by working towards gaining certificates for their cork forests. It is important that consumers recognise that cork is sustainable and ecologically sound, and the FSC stamp drives this message.”

Alcohol ‘improves memory’
The latest medical research reporting positive effects of alcohol consumption has emerged from New Zealand.

The study concludes that drinking can, counterintuitively, enhance memory. Researchers are quick to clarify that this only applies to “mild to moderate drinking”. One of the researchers of the study, Maggie Kalev, was quoted in The Journal of Neuroscience saying: “This is similar to a glass of wine protecting against heart disease, however the mechanism is different.”

The research, conducted using rats, originally set out to investigate the role of certain receptors critical to memory, but turned up this link with alcohol. Kalev explains: “We thought it was worth pursuing, since ethanol drinking is such a common pattern of human behaviour.”

The levels of alcohol that the rats consumed were apparently “equivalent to a level of consumption that does not exceed the legal driving limit”.

A number of cognitive tests were then conducted over a number of weeks. Those consuming moderate amounts performed better in these tests than those with no ethanol in their diets. Those fed a higher amount performed badly on object recognition tasks.

Interestingly, the group with high alcohol levels performed well on emotional memory tasks, which may partially explain, Kalev believes, the development of alcoholism in human beings. Drinking to drown sorrows “could actually paradoxically promote traumatic memories and lead to further drinking, contributing to the development of alcoholism.”

Bottled deep-sea water brand launched
The latest attempt to produce even purer bottled water has resulted in the launch of Mine Water, a new product from Korean food company Cheil Jedang.

This desalinised deep-sea water is drawn from 650 meters below the surface, near Korea’s Ulleungdo Island. The theory is that this water is both rich in nutrients and minerals, as well as free from pollutants, chemicals and pathogens.

Cheil Jedang was originally founded by Samsung as a sugar refiner, and is now South Korea’s largest food manufacturer.

At least two other companies, Lotte Chilsung and Watervis, are said to have plans to market deep-sea water. Cheil Jedang’s TJ Min was quoted in the Korea Times saying: “Deep-sea water will trigger developments of new products and heat up competition in existing ones like the bottled water business.”

Japanese brewer plans pharmaeutical takeover
Japanese brewer Kirin has announced plans to take over pharmaceutical firm Kyowa Hakko Kogyo.

The move is a result of declining beer sales in the country, something which has prompted a diversification for Kirin, one of the country’s major brewers.

Kyowa Hakko Kogyo produces allergy medication, as well as cancer treatments. Kirin is no newcomer to this industry, however, with a thriving business producing anemia medication. The acquisition is planned for April 2008, when the pharmaceutical company will join Kirin Holdings. 

President of Kirin Holdings, Kazuyasu Kato, explained: “We aim to be a Japanese company that is strong in research and development.”

The beer market in Japan reportedly sank recently to its lowest in recorded history. This is primarily attributed to the rising popularity of other categories, such as wine.

Rexam builds new plant in Denmark
Beverage can company, Rexam, is making a significant investment in Denmark in the form of a new manufacturing plant.

The new facility will represent an investment of £78 million over the course of three years.

The new plant, which is being built in Frederica, is expected to open in early 2009. There are apparently no similar plants in the country.

The facility will start out with a capacity of 1.2 billion units, producing both 33cl and 50cl cans. Rexam CEO Leslie van de Walle commented that the “new plant will enable us to capture growth, better serve our customers and further consolidate our global leadership position in beverage cans”.

The plant will be well placed to provide cans for the beverage industry, not only in Denmark, but to other northern European countries as well. This region has recently shown strong growth in this sector, which is forecasted to continue.

Religious experience
Reverend Taffy Davies, a preacher in Sutton, is using a time-honoured inducement to tempt parishioners into joining a pub debate about religion: free beer.

Davies is offering a pint of ale to those who attend the debate entitled, “Religion is a waste of time and should be banned. Discuss.”

The ale-fueled debate is held at an inn near a Methodist church, much to the dismay of its traditionally teetotal congregation.

© db November 2007

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