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The week in pictures

db was delighted to be invited to Mark Hix and artist Damien Hirst’s new gaff – Pharmacy2, a reincarnation of Hirst’s popular ‘90s Notting Hill restaurant Pharmacy, as his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. With Hix in charge of the menu, dishes include comforting classics like crab linguine and Launceston lamb pie.

The site features candy coloured pill-shaped bar stools, neon crosses, work from Hirst’s Medicine Cabinets series and stunning butterfly art works that look like stained glass, while the windows are etched with DNA strands.

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, came to town this week to host a vertical tasting of the house’s library Champagne – P2, referring to the wine’s second “plenitude”. During the tasting Geoffroy dismissed the idea that acidity is key to a wine’s ageability. He also spoke passionately about his belief that late disgorged wines have a long life ahead of them. “Longer yeast aged wines have a magnified character and are truer to the spirit of Dom Pérignon. So long as they are kept on their lees, they could make it to the 100-year mark,” he said.

The four P2 vintages on show at the tasting were 1998, 1996, 1995 and 1993. “The P2 wines have profound depth – they have the richness and intensity without the weight or fatigue. Power is more brutal and in your face and never as memorable as intensity. It’s easy to make loud wines – complexity and integration are the name of the game,” Geoffroy said. 

Coinciding with the Wines from Spain trade tasting this week, Spanish wine royalty Miguel Torres hosted an intimate lunch at the St James’s hotel this week which included a tasting of some of the top wines produced by the Spanish wine giant, including Milmanda, a barrel-aged Chardonnay from Conca de Barbera that was served to American president Barack Obama during a recent visit to Cuba. Allegedly Fidel Casto’s cellar is filled with Torres wines.

One of the highlights of the lunch was a tasting of the second ever vintage of Torres’ Chilean Pinot Noir project – Escaleras de Empedrado. Made from Pinot planted on slate soils in the southern region of Empedrado and aged for seven months in French oak, Torres admitted that the wine was a labour of love but that he was pleased with the end result, which has more in common with Burgundy than Chile’s fruity Pinots.

Also in town this week was handsome Frenchman Bertrand Verduzier, export area director for Champagne Gosset and Frapin Cognac, who hosted a dinner at Café Murano in St James’s to launch Gosset’s new 15 year old expression.

Made from a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, 15 Years was cellared in 1999 and carries a dosage of 7g/l. The house describes it as a “masterpiece” cuvée, which is being aimed at the on-trade.

Sunny skies were the order of the day for the Wines from Spain tasting at Tobacco dock. The room was full of familiar faces, including Paco Fernandez Paez of Bodegas Muriel in Rioja and Harry Hunt, who makes wine at high altitude in Almeria and Granada.

We also caught up with Alex Baudouin, who has moved from Red Squirrel Wines to Alliance Wines, and the ebullient Jimmy Smith of the West London Wine School, who is currently seeking crowd funding for the Streatham Wine House in Streatham Hill, a relaxed wine bar that promises to serve characterful drops from around the world. If you’d like to support his venture, you can donate here.

Photo credit: Robert Hollingworth

We’re never one to turn down an invite to one of our favourite London night spots – Duck & Waffle, so were were delighted to be invited back to road test some of the crazy cocktails on liquid alchemist Rich Woods’ new veggie-themed menu.

Photo credit: Robert Hollingworth

During the night Rich was kind enough to pose for us, and talked us though his impressive ink work. On the subject of cocktails, he revealed that his next list, due to launch in June, will focus on locally foraged ingredients that people might otherwise trample on. He is also working on a menu that explores the impact of colour on taste perception.

Photo credit: Robert Hollingworth

Among the standout cocktails on his current veggie list was the artichoke negroni, which twists on the Italian classic with an artichoke infusion. Also charming our taste buds was the carrot cocktail, a decadent combo of Patrón Tequila, buttered carrot, date and caramel.

The bee pollen Bellini meanwhile, proved the ideal apéritif, while the prize for the most curious cocktail of the evening went to the Manhattan Roast, a twist on the American classic that featured caramelised red onion Bourbon.

The prettiest cocktail of the evening was the Eden – a bold blend of gin, bay leaf, and IPA reduction and beetroot “paint” that reminded us of a Mark Rothko painting.

We’ll never tire of this view… 

London restaurant Rabbit has revealed it will be growing their very own edible garden and serving a new floral cocktails over the period of the Chelsea Flower Show, taking place from the 24 – 28 May.

Ahead of World Malbec Day, Founder Martin Williams and Director of Wine Zack Charilaou kick started a charity competition by grape stomping at M WINE STORE. The fun continues on Monday 18th April when guests and customers are invited to stomp grapes and post their own photos on Instagram. M has pledged to match likes for the top Malbec Stomp Picture with pounds to raise funds for the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation.

Eva Longoria has been presented with the Rioja Prestige award at The Global Gift charity gala event in Madrid for her charitable work and support of Spanish wine and culture.

Since its creation in 1994, the award has been presented to the likes of Antonio Banderas, Ferrán Adrià and Carlos Sáinz.

Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka, made from the milk of Dorset cows, was the chosen drinks sponsor for the launch of the Big Issue celebration exhibition at the Jealous Contemporary Art Gallery in Shoreditch, London this week.

Above is a picture of Ben Eine, the artist who has teamed up with the Big Issue to design three covers to celebrate their 200 millionth copy.

TV presenter Julia Bradbury and Peter Bird from the Big Issue, brother of founder John Bird, can be seen below.

Annachiara Zanoni (Masi) Emilia Marining and Alex Hunt (Berkmann Wine Cellars UK) joined in with Masi’s Trattoria party on Monday evening at Vinitaly. Below, Mattea Simeoni (Masi) and Tony Apostolakos (Masi US Director) showed off the authentic props!

On Tuesday this week Veuve Clicquot cellarmaster Dominique Demarville (left) launched the brand’s 2008 vintage in partnership with Thierry Brouin, winemaker and manager at Clos des Lambrays, which was bought by Clicquot owner, LVMH, two years ago for a reputed €100m.

The launch began with a visit to Clos des Lambrays, a historic walled 8.66 hectare vineyard in Burgundy’s Morey-Saint-Denis. 

Deep in the Burgundian property’s cellars, Thierry then shared a glass of 2008 Clos des Lambrays with the attendees, which comprised Champagne specialists from around the world.

The Veuve Clicquot 2008 launch then took place at the château attached to the clos. As previously reported by the drinks business, Dominique Demarville said, “We chose Clos de Lambrays for the launch first of all because of the Pinot Noir – it is the grape of the property and it is the main variety in Veuve Clicquot’s blend – and because the 2008 vintage is the first vintage for a long time that has had wine made in oak – so we have come to Burgundy where ageing wine in oak is so important.”

Among the attendees was Finland’s Essi Avellan MW, and, from the UK, db contributors Giles Fallowfield and Michael Edwards. db editor-in-chief, Patrick Schmitt MW was also in attendance (second from right).

db was also in Beaujolais this week for the fifth ‘Bien Boire en Beaujolais’ tasting at the Château de Pizay in Morgon.

The annual tasting brings together the region’s leading independent producers and an intriguing array of labels from the traditional (above) to the funky (below).

Graphic design collective ‘Hyper Cute’ whose work covers wine labels among other things had been given free reign to get inventive with masking tape on the Château de Pizay’s fermenting tanks.

And, like all good tastings, this one finished with a much needed beer – from a local small brewer too.

db‘s latest Masters competition – Cabernet Sauvignon – took place this week at Tramshed in Shoreditch, London.

Above is our panel of judges, while below we see db‘s Chloé Beral and David Hennelley studiously waiting in the wings!

There was also chance for a foretaste of what’s in store at the Real Wine Fair, the natural, organic and biodynamic wine fair organised by Le Caves de Pyrene, which returns to Tobacco Dock in East London on 17-18 April.

This is the flight of wines on offer at Villandry St James as part of Real Wine Month in which more than 200 restaurants and independent retailers across the UK and Ireland are participating in April.

The wines being showcased are the Bacchus-dominant white blend from the organic Davenport Vineyards estate in East Sussex; Sepp Muster’s extraordinary 80/20 Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend from Styria, which receives six months of skin contact in old oak barrels before further ageing in these distinctive clay bottles; the ever-delicious 2013 Cerasuolo di Vittoria from COS in Sicily; and the strikingly savoury, violet-scented, no added-sulphur Syrah from South African producer Radford Dale.

And finally… González Byass chairman Mauricio González-Gordon has been welcomed as one of the newest members of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino in London this week. The Gran Orden de los Caballeros del Vino is an organisation established in 1984 to recognise those who have “acted over and above the call of duty” in their promotion of Spanish wines.

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