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The week in pictures

Bliss in Bordeaux, hearing of Virginia’s vinous ambition, and healthy helpings of jamon helped make this week in the wine trade particularly memorable.

Keen horse rider Jean-Claude Mas of Domaines Paul Mas in the Languedoc poses proudly on his steed to promote his new offering – rides around his estates on horseback. For those who aren’t so keen on the idea of saddling up there is also the option to tear around on a quad bike.

Tanguy Martin of Hotel TerraVina in Hampshire was crowned Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2015. The three-hour final stage of this annual competition, which took place at the Savoy hotel in London on Monday, saw Martin push Arnaud Bardary of Maze in London into second place, while Romain Bourger of the Vineyard at Stockcross took third place.

Luisa Rocca pours her family wines, Bruno Rocca, at a Piedmont tasting in London hosted by UK importer Liberty Wines. While the main focus of the day was the region’s 2011 vintage, which is just reaching the market, the most recent 2014 growing season still loomed large in producers’ memories.

“My brother never remembers working so hard,” joked Rocca of the family’s successful battle to stick to its organic approach in this notoriously wet, difficult year for much of Italy.

Traditional, modern or sometimes just downright different – Pinot Nero from Piedmont anyone? Producer GD Vajra flags up the more “off piste” corners of its portfolio with colourfully artistic labels that stand out from this Barolo producer’s more mainstream offerings.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) delivered a petition signed by more than 26,000 to Downing Street, calling on the Government to support the cider sector by rejecting an EU tax on small producers. The EU has demanded that the Government remove an existing tax exemption for small cider makers who produce fewer 33 pints a day. The proposed tax bill could cost each producer up to £2,700 a year.

db’s Patrick Schmitt hosted a roundtable discussion with Virginia Wine on Tuesday at the Avenue restaurant in London. Titled “Virginia Uncorked”, a panel of Virginia representatives, including Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd Haymore, along with members of the UK wine trade, sampled various wines from Virginia and discussed the region’s role in the UK.

Meanwhile, in Bordeaux, db‘s Neal Baker took this photograph from an opportune vantage point showing St Emilion village and its surrounding vineyards – just one of many breathtaking stops on a three-day tour of the region with the CIVB.

Another view worthy of a snap was Chateau Petrus, which he bumped into almost accidentally on his travels. Sadly, there seemed to be no-one in when he knocked on the gate…

Over in Graves, and dinner at Chateau Venus allowed Neal’s esteemed host Bertrand Amart the chance to show off his monster 18 litre bottle of Apollon, the Chateau’s premium wine. His smile betrays the fact that the bottle was extremely heavy and extremely valuable, on sale for around €700. Your humble reporter dared not (and could not) lift it more than an inch from the ground…

And finally, an achingly pretty sunset at Chateau Milles Anges, overlooking the hilled Cadillac vineyards, following an entertaining evening with the Chateau owners Heather and Tony van Ekris. Neal’s Northern Irish tones caught the ear of Dutchman Tony, who spent the evening referring to him as his “fellow orangeman”.

Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Honourable Terry McAuliffe (centre); Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Todd Haymore (far left); Michele Zonin (second from left), Proprietor of Casa Vinicola Zonin and representative of Virginia’s Barboursville Vineyards; Andrew Hodson, (second from right), Proprietor of Virginia’s Veritas Vineyard & Winery; Patrick Duffeler I (far right), Proprietor of Williamsburg Winery.

Earlier in the day Virginia Wine hosted a tasting to raise the profile of the region’s wines which was attended by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Honourable Terry McAuliffe.

(L-R) Natasha Bridge, Gillyane Robertson and Alistair Robertson

Fonseca Port’s Bicentenary was marked with a lavish bash at the home of The Wallace Collection in Manchester Square in LondonGuests were served glasses of Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée and an imperial of 40-year-old Fonseca tawny. Adrian Bridge (below), head of The Fladgate Partnership, which owns Fonseca, introduced the evening.

Moa Gammel, the star of new ITV Encore drama Jorskott, was on hand to help mark the launch of Copenhagan-based lager brand Kolson Export in the UK. With programmes such as The Killing, Borgen, Wallander and The Bridge drawing UK audiences, it is hoped the partnership will raise awareness of both the Nordic Noir genre and Kolson Export in the UK. 

(L-R) Simon Jackson, executive director of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling; Rod Jones, Meantime Brewery beer sommelier and beer academy beer sommelier of the year, and Tim Hulme, chief executive of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.

The Beer Academy named Rod Jones of Meantime Brewing Company its Beer Sommelier of the Year. Rod, who began his career with Meantime as a brewer, was accredited as a beer sommelier in 2013 and now undertakes beer education for both colleagues and customers.

Ten UK bartenders competed for the title of “Don of Cocktails” in Don Papa Rum’s #itsaDONdeal on-trade cocktail competition. The winner was Davide Boncimino from London’s Mr Fogg’s whose winning creation “Fix in the Mind” earned him a trip to the Phillippines with Don Papa. Michael Trinity from London’s Chicago Rib Shack came a close second, followed by Tim Pryde from the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh in third place.

The main tent at Meadowood Napa Valley

A four-day Auction Napa Valley event, organised by Napa Valley Vintners, raised $15.8 million for charity last week, breaking several records in the process. Starting last Thursday the event featured welcome parties hosted by wineries, live music performances and dinners created by top chefs such as Pierre Gagnaire.

Lurking in a basement off Oxford Street in London lies Beast, a name that becomes immediately apt as this beefy vision greets diners – or in this case the UK wine trade and a group of 18 Napa producers in town to present their wares.

Lurking in a basement off Oxford Street in London lies Beast, a name that becomes immediately apt as this beefy vision greets diners – or in this case the UK wine trade and a group of 18 Napa producers in town to present their wares.

db jumped at the chance to try out spanish tapas restaurant and bar Camino in Southwark this week which is owned by Richard Bigg – the man behind cava den Copa de Cava and sherry shack Bar Pepito in London. Guests were treated to helpings of jamon, manchego cheese and lashings of Cava.

Cocktails on offer included the Gin Mare, made from a spanish gin crafted in Vilanova just outside of Barcelona which comprised Mediterranean botanicals including basil, thyme, rosemary and citrus.

Always keen to scope out London’s latest restaurant openings, db was delighted to be invited to the new Allan Pickett pop-up at The Sanderson hotel in Fitzrovia. On entry, we were greeted by this pair of luscious lips, a copy of Salvador Dalí’s famous sofa inspired by American actress Mae West’s pout.

The evening began with a duo of cocktails inspired by the flavours of summer. My Carte Blanche (right) combined St Germain elderflower cordial, Beefeater gin, gomme syrup, lemon juice, cucumber syrup, egg white and cracked black pepper, and tasted like an English country garden after the rain.

Pickett, the former head chef at Plateau and Orrery, has created a seasonally focused bespoke menu at The Sanderson that blends classic and contemporary British dishes made using summer ingredients. Among the prettiest of the dishes was this starter of house cured Scottish salmon, crème fraiche and beetroot.

Also impressing us was this super fresh starter featuring marinated sea scallops, avocado purée, Granny Smith apples and red amaranth with a faint trace of vanilla. The silky, iridescent scallops were brought to life by the sour tang of the apple and hints of sweet vanilla.

Our main event, fillet of gilthead bream, smoked aubergines, golden sultanas and Indian spiced oil conjured the exotic flavours of north Africa and the Med, the sultanas adding sweetness and the bed of fennel beneath refreshment. The fish itself was achingly tender, falling apart like petals from a rose.

The evening ended on a sweet note via this impossibly pretty pud – a sable tart of strawberries, raspberries, pistachio crème patissière and elderflower sorbet that perfectly encapsulated the hopeful flavours of summer.

Viña Errázuriz president Eduardo Chadwick presents the Sena 2009 and 2012 at a lunch for trade and press at London’s Sketch restaurant on Wednesday this week.

And finally, Berry Bros & Rudd in miniature – or are those giant corks filling the merchant’s St James’s shop?

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