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The week in pictures

Diana Hunter, Mark Aylwin, David Robinson and David Cox, among other guests at the Benevolent Ball

Top figures and noted personalities from the UK drinks industry gathered at The Benevolent Ball last Thursday at The Dorchester in support of their trade charity and raised over £40,000 for their colleagues in need.

The Benevolent’s chief executive David Cox (pictured above, much later in the evening) commented: “The Benevolent Ball represents one of our flagship fundraising events during the year and I continue to be humbled by the generosity of our drinks industry colleagues who genuinely want to help us with our valuable work.

“I think this was one of our best Balls with a terrific atmosphere in the room and it was made even more special by a simply outstanding performance by [magician] Jamie Raven”.

Havana Club hosted a heat for their Global bartending competition, The Cocktail Grand Prix, in Denmark this week. Terkel Kleist was crowned Danish Champion and will now be jetting off to Havana to compete for the Global title at the end of May.

The Cocktail Grand Prix has challenged contestants to create “the next classic serve by mixing Cuba’s cocktail tradition, authenticity and local ingredients with their own personal experiences” a spokesperson for the brand said.

ProWein, one of the world’s largest wine trade fairs, took place in Düsseldorf, Germany this week. The folks at New Zealand Wine have sent over some of their snaps…

Philip Gregan, New Zealand Wine CEO (left)

Iain Griffiths from top London bar Dandelyan was revealed as the UK winner of the 2015/16 Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition this week at the Northern European Final Dinner of the competition, held at London’s St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

Iain beat competition from fellow UK finalists Oliver Pluck from The East Village, Leeds and Santiago Michelis from Happiness Forgets, London to join the 35 other finalists from around the world at the BLCC Grand Final, which will be held in San Francisco next month.    

Jägermeister has launched the latest instalment in its Ice Cold Gig series – documenting the brand’s most exciting gig to date.

The German herbal spirit invited the lead singer of metal band Bullet for My Valentine to complete a continuous gig on Air, Sea and Land – performed while skydiving, on a speedboat and husky sledding.

A brave gang of adventurous wine lovers ventured into the darkness at Clerkenwell restaurant Dans le Noir on Tuesday for a one-off wine tasting hosted in the pitch black. Held to celebrate the restaurant’s 10th anniversary, oenologist Jérome Barret presented guests with five mystery wines from 2005.

After much grappling with glasses in the dark, the wines tasted were revealed to be Cuvee Arthur 2005, Chateau Cabezac; Chateau Bellegrave 2005, Pomerol; Marques de Murietta, Castilo ygay 2005 Rioja; La Chapelle 2005, Paul Jaboulet, Hermitage; Don Jacobo Altos de Coral 2005, Rioja single estate.

Founded in 2006 by entrepreneur Edouard De Broglie, a visit to Dans le Noir sees guests seated in pitch black among strangers on communal tables. Once led to their seats in the darkness by blind guides, guests are served one of four set menus with dishes remaining a mystery to diners until after the experience. Unfortunately db is sworn to secrecy on what was on the menu, to maintain the fun for future diners, but was treated to a range of mysterious delights certain to tantalise your tastebuds. Well worth a visit, a night at Dans Le Noir makes for a unique, one-off dining experience. For more information click here.

The Lunelli family were awarded Wine Family of the Year at ProWein this week. Marcello (left) and Matteo Lunelli are vice-president and president of the Lunelli Group, which owns a series of Italian wine estates, including leading sparkling wine brands Ferrari in Trento and Bisol in Prosecco DOCG Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.

Chef Gizzi Erskine was just one of the celebrity guests to attend Michel Roux Jr’s Craftsmen’s Dinner this week to mark the launch of The Craftsmen’s Dinner – a short film series produced in partnership with Scotch whisky The Balvenie. The series is presented by Roux Jr and follows his journey throughout British to learn more about some of the country’s best craftsmen. The first episode can be found here.

Flint Wines hosted its annual portfolio tasting at No 4 Hamilton Place in London on Tuesday showcasing more than 180 wines with a focus on its Italian portfolio. A highlight was a masterclass hosted by Tim Mondavi of California’s Continuum winery. Held at 67 Pall Mall guests were treated to a rare vertical tasting of the winery’s flagship Continuum range from 2005 to 2013.

Paula Fandiño, winemaker at Rías Biaxas Albariño specialist Mar de Frades, came to town this week. At a tasting held at Barrafina, Adelaide Street she shared some of the results of her experiments looking at the ageing potential of the traditionally light, crisp and mineral Albariño variety through the use of lees ageing.

“I know some vineyards where the combination of old vines and terroir give beautifully structured, powerful wines,” Fandiño explained. 

“My research is into whether, with the right batonnage and lees ageing, these will also give us wines that combine the minerality and character of the Salnès Valley with the complexity and depth that is needed to age and evolve in bottle.”

The masterclass was followed by a lunch where Barrafina demonstrated its absolute mastery with the carabinero prawn.

There was also time this week to join a South African wine tasting dinner at Villandry St James with Ezanne Gouws from one of Hallgarten’s latest portfolio additions – Stellenbosch winery Ernst Gouws and Co.

The chef was challenged to pair Gouws’s reds – a Pinot Noir, Pinotage and Merlot – with something authentically South African and came up with a lekker ostrich pie and gourmet bobotie. 

Cognac brand Frapin launched its new VIP XO decanter in Dusseldorf during ProWein this week with a glitzy party at the Ellington bar. The elegant decanter design takes its inspiration from both a perfume bottle and an inkwell.

Among the attendees at the party were Patrice Piveteau, Bertrand Verduzier and Jean-Pierre Cointreau

db was delighted to be invited to Arzak’s sister restaurant Ametsa at the Halkin Hotel this week to a dinner celebrating Chivite’s new partnership with Enotria and the launch of Las Fincas Rosado 2015 – a rosé made especially for Arzak and Ametsa. The evening kicked off with curious canapés served from crushed drinks cans and test tubes.

The event was hoisted by Chivite’s head honcho and family member, Julian Chivite and chef Elena Arzak, who has known Julian since she was born. He father, chef Juan Mari Arzak was sadly unable to make the event due to a broken arm.

The food was suitably playful and experimental for a Michelin-starred venue, and included a silky hunk of sea bass served with colourful shavings of garlic.

The culinary highlight of the night came on the form of lithe strips of perfectly pink pigeon in a fruity jus

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