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The week in pictures

Members of the bulk wine trade descended on Amsterdam this week to take part in the 7th World Bulk Wine Exhibition, which saw 200 exhibitors from 66 countries take part – an increase of 15% on the previous year.

db’s international sales director Andrew Oliver sat in as a judge in the show’s 5th International Bulk Wine Competition, which saw two Grand Gold medals awarded to wineries in Chile and Italy. Chile’s Viñedos Puertas’ Malbec Reserva 2015 and Italy’s Cantine Vincenzo Solferino’s Negromaro 2015 stood out among the 113 samples presented by nine countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Spain, France, Italy, South Africa, Canada and Croatia.

Zakkie Bester, CEO and cellarmaster of South Africa’s Riebeek Cellars was among the many producers exhibiting at the fair. Speaking to db, Bester voiced concerns that continued dry weather in South Africa’s Swartland region would make for a  “challenging” 2016 harvest and almost certainly cause volumes available to be reduced.

Following the close of the the show’s first day, VIP guests and members of the press were treated to a night of Spanish tapas, while being entertained by an intense flamenco performance at the nearby La Buleria restaurant.

On Thursday the great and good of the drinks industry gathered once again at the Guildhall in London for the 46th IWSC awards banquet, held to mark the achievements of the brightest producers in the drinks trade. After the evening’s award winners were unveiled, IWSC 2015 president Neil McGuigan addressed the audience, as the IWSC announced that its president for 2016 would be Matteo Lunelli, CEO of the Ferrari Winery in Italy.

(L-R) David Cox, MIke James, wine buying director at Aldi, and Mrs James

Guests attending The Benevolent’s annual Northern Ball last weekend raised £21,000, helping the charity continue its support of members of the drinks trade facing financial or medical hardship this festive season.

Mike James, Chris Porter and Kirsty Loftus

Guests to the annual base, held on 20 November at The Mere Resort in Knutsford, Cheshire, got into the spirit on the dancefloor, with former Benevolent chairman Chris Porter leading the celebrations. Prior to a four-course gourmet dinner, guests were able to prop up and a “Neon Cocktail Bar”, and take part in a wine auction featuring a collection of 12 bottles donated by wine writers including Jancis Robinson MW, Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin MW and Hugh Johnson. For more information on the charity, or if you are in need of its support, please visit

dbHK hosted its first ever Baijiu masterclass this week, an event which saw members of Hong Kong’s drinks trade and wine enthusiasts alike join to explore the diverse world of the Chinese white spirit. The fermentation of grains into alcohol had origins in the Neolithic Period but reached a height during the Song Dynasty where there existed an important “Manual to Making Spirits” and the spirit became more popularised, no longer a beverage reserved for the Imperial Court. The discovery of distillation technique further advanced the technology of Baijiu production, with the archaeological discovery of an ancient still dating back to the 12th century Song Dynasty bearing evidence to this.

Taking place in the China Club, guests to the masterclass were table to taste 2014, 2007 and 1999 Moutai, as well as 2007 Fenjiu and 2015 Wuliangye, 2007 Luzhou Laojiao, 2004 Xifengjiu and 2001 Dongjiu. The years represent the original date of release, given that total Moutai production takes five years, including an extended ageing period.

For dinner, guests sampled the 2000 Zhuyeqing, 2014 Shui Jing Fan Yuan, 2014 Shui Jing Fang Ming, 2014 Shui Jing Fang Qing (all produced in the original fermentation pits dated back to the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties) and a special 1981 blind tasting of Dongjiu. Two guests were the proud winners of the blind tasting competition and came away with two Porcelain baijiu cups donated by Googut.

Bartender Maya Van Damme has been named the winner of Beefeater’s MIXLDN 2015 competition in Antwerp, Belgium. A bartender at the Old Fashioned Cocktail Bar in Ghent, competitors were asked to create a gin cocktail that best encapsulates the “spirit of London”, as part of its Beefeater MIXLDN Global Bartender Cocktail Competition, now in its fifth year. Van Damme will go on to represent Belgium in the grand final.

Tango dancers brought some Argentine flair to Hackney last night at a screening of Road to La Paz as part of The Argentine Film Festival in London last night. Hosted at the Hackney Picture House, Bodega Argento provided the wines for the event, its fourth edition.

Hollywood hunk George Clooney has expanded his Casamigos premium Tequila brand with the launch of the Casamigos Spirits Company with business partner Randy Gerber. Clooney has ambitions of seeing the brand reach “iconic status”.  The Casamigos range of small batch Tequilas includes a Blanco, Reposado and Añejo, and is said to be the fastest-growing ultra-premium Tequila in the US

The terrace at Fogg’s Tavern in Mayfair has been turned into a winter garden decked out with fairy lights, tartan blankets, mistletoe, climbing plants and Christmas decorations. The candlelit space sill serve Hendrick’s cocktails including a selection of warm sharing cocktails served from teapots.

Mr Fogg’s Ice Breaker blends Hendrick’s, Isaac saké, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, apple cider, lemon juice, honey and pear purée. The decadent sounding Toodle-Pip Hot Chocolate meanwhile, features Hendrick’s, Mozart Dark Chocolate liqueur, Briotett Crème de Menthe, double cream, espresso lungo and chocolate powder.


The Guardian’s Martin Chulov was voted Journalist of the Year at the Chivas Brothers sponsored FPA Media Awards for his insightful piece into the current situation in the Middle East. 

db was delighted to be invited to check out hotly anticipated new restaurant opening German Gymnasium in King’s Cross this week, where the evening kicked off at the Meister Bar with a Haig’s Delight cocktail, blending David Beckham’s Haig Club whisky with apricot liqueur, amaretto and lemon juice. Smoked with liquorice wood, the sweet and sour concoction was served in a medicine bottle, which billowed with smoke on opening adding a dash of theatre to proceedings.

Among the Bavarian delights we enjoyed at German Gymnasium was this magnificent (if gargantuan) veal schnitzel, whose billowing folds reminded us of a Bernini sculpture, or perhaps a velvet cloak in a Rubens painting. Served with a lingonberry compote, the giant hulk of a main was devoured almost in its entirety, and we still found space for pudding!

We also found time to head to Smithfield Market to check out much-hyped new bar Oriole from Rosie and Edmund Weil, founders of the Nightjar in Old Street. In keeping with the aviary theme, the bar is named after a brightly coloured bird with impressive burnt orange plumage found across Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia, the bar boasts exotic “tiki chic” interiors and aims to transport guests back to a bygone era.

The cocktails at Oriole are dived into three groups: Old World, New World and the Orient, and nod to the ingredients and drinking habits found in each. We began with a smoky Hispaniola, featuring Woodford Reserve Bourbon, graviola cordial, plantain powder and rinquinquin à la pêche.

Our liquid journey continued with a Cortez Killer, made with Don Julio Reposado Tequila, balsamic vermouth and agave tonic syrup, which took inspiration from Mexican conquistador Hernán Cortes, who overcame Montezuma and brought the Aztec empire to its knees.

Keen to take things a step further, our final cocktail, the Prairie Horn, combined Bulleit Bourbon, prekese syrup, Buffalo popcorn tea and mustard foam in a sweet and fiery ensemble inspired by the wide skies and rolling wheat fields of the American prairies.

This week also saw us head to steakhouse and raw restaurant “M” in the City to attend a beer and food matching dinner hosted by Belgian brewer Liefmans. On arrival we were treated to a duo of beer-laced cocktails, our favourite twisting on an Old Fashioned with Liefmans, Bourbon and orange.

Keen to flag up beer’s food matching capabilities, during the dinner hosted buy RandR teamwork, we tried a number of enticing pairings created by the restaurant’s South African head chef Jarad McCarroll, including smoked eel and foie gras paired with Liefmans Fruitesse on the rocks, which cut through the fat in the foie and added red fruit notes to the eel.

Dean Shury from celebrity hotspot Chiltern Firehouse was crowned the winning Perfectionist bartender by Patron Tequila at the London Edition hotel this week for Providence, an apéritif containing a blend of Patrón Silver, Dolin Dry, Provençal herbs and olive soda garnished with fresh lavender and an olive over cut ice.

This week saw the launch of Silent Pool Gin at the Cock n Bull gallery in Shoreditch. Housed in a pretty pale blue bottle, the gin is made with 24 botanicals including kafir lime, honey and lavender.

Among the revellers at the launch were these two impressively hirsute chaps.

The Haywood Drinks stand at this week’s Ideal Home Exhibition Christmas Show, featuring both its Shatler’s pre-mixed cocktails, new Secco+ Prosecco brand and wine-based mixed drinks range, presented by brand owner Ingo Nassau.

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