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The week in pictures

The team behind Pococello took UK bartenders to the Amalfi coast to pick lemons for its next batch of the liqueur.

Grown in Amalfi, distilled in England and created in Soho, London, Pococello is the first-ever collaborative product from Chase Distillery, which teamed up with Soho pizza makers, Pizza Pilgrims.

Pococello mixes Amalfi lemons with Chase spirit, and can be drank chilled and neat or in a variety of cocktails, as the bartenders demonstrate in the above snap.

Tom Ross (Polpo), Fin Spiteri (Quo Vadis), Simone Francini (D&D, Cantina Del Ponte), Chris Dennis (Sovereign Loss), Chris Watson (Chase Distillery), Charlie Roberts (Fever Tree) and Edy Piro (Terrone Coffee)

This group shot shows the bartenders, all of whom work at some of the UK’s best bars, kicking back after a hard day’s picking and learning about the lemons used in the product.

A trip to vineyards in Hampshire – including Jenkyn Place, pictured here, was organised for wine professionals this week. The Jenkyn Place visit included a vertical tasting of the Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvee (2006-2010) with owner Simon Bladon and winemaker Dermot Sugrue.

Crouched and fascinated by some Chardonnay bud swelling is Darren Smith, db‘s sub editor and staff writer.

Next stop on the Hampshire vineyard trip was Exton Park, where db was treated to another English sparkling tasting with winemaker Corinne Seely and a tour of the estate’s vineyards with vineyard manager Fred Langdale.

Here is a neat-looking plot Pinot Noir vines planted on a south-east facing slope and commanding an impressive panoramic view of the South Downs.

The Guinaudeau family of Pomerol estate Château Lafleur were in town this week, hosting a masterclass at 67 Pall Mall as the culmination of their 2015 en primeur campaign.

Guests were invited to assess 2015 barrel samples of the full Lafleur range – Château Grand Village Rouge, G de Guinaudeau G’ Acte 7, Pensés de Lafleur and of course Château Lafleur, along with white Château Grand Village Blanc and Les Champs Libres.

Baptiste Guinaudeau also brought along a selection of back vintages, including Lafleurs 1999 and 2006.

Baptiste Guinaudeau (pictured to the right of the screen), accompanied by wife Julie their two children, explained how life had been made “very easy” in cellar for the 2015 vintage at Lafleur owing to grapes that had achieved “ideal maturity” and were in excellent condition at harvest following sustained warm weather, which in turn followed a hot but rainy August (16mm in six days at one point).

While the 2015 Chateau Lafleur offered subtle signs of a very fine wine to come, a surprising star of the show was the Lafleur Les Champs Libres white. A blend of 87% Sauvignon Blanc and 13% Sémillon, raised in 100% new oak, the wine at this stage showed excellent concentration, balance and freshness, and drew compliments from several masterclass attendees.

On Tuesday 19th April Maxxium UK launched Jim Beam Double Oak at The Village Underground in Shoreditch, London.

A permanent addition to the portfolio, Jim Beam Double Oak is a new take on Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon crafted by maturing the signature whiskey in two different American oak barrels.

Guests were able to watch a video explaining the history of the brand and the creation of Double Oak while enjoying a tutored tasting of Double Oak led by MIXXIT’s David Miles (pictured).

A sweet picture arrived in our inbox this week from Les Vignobles Foncalieu which shows some of its vines beginning to bud with the onset of spring.

The consumer launch event for Campo Viejo’s first ever white Rioja in the UK,the Viura-Tempranillo Blanco 2015, was held at the Good Housekeeping Institute this week.

The event allowed journalists to try the new wine along with meeting its winemaker, Clara Canals as well as tasting some delicious complementary tapas.

The new Rioja is exclusive to the UK and will be in stores nationwide from mid-May, RRP £9.35.

Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars has teamed up with Symington Family Estates to open the Fitzherbert Arms, a Port-inspired pub stocking over 30 different Ports. Recent winners of the ‘Best Drinks Act in the UK Award’ at the annual Publican Awards, Cheshire Cat Pubs and Bars has five other pubs in their portfolio taking inspiration from different spirits, including the Cholmondeley Arms which serves over 300 types of Gin.

The port list at the Fitzherbert Arms in Swynerton in Staffordshire has been curated in partnership with Symington Family Estates. Together they have carefully selected 30 different Ports all of which are served by the bottle with a selection served by the tot, glass or half bottle decanter. It features the full range of different styles of Ports – barrel-aged to bottle-matured – from the Symington family portfolio, including household names such as Graham’s and Cockburn’s. Among the wines on offer are thirteen different Vintage Ports dating from 2004 back to 1977 along with a fantastic range of Aged Tawny Ports and Single Harvest Tawny Ports.

photo credit: MOD

A trooper from the Lifeguards enjoys a ‘stirrup cup’ of Port at London’s Guildhall after his regiment, The Household Cavalry, received the freedom of the City of London this week. Officers dismounted for Champagne before the regiment returned to its barracks in Knightsbridge.

db tag teamed with our sister title The Spirits Business this week at Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, where head sommelier David Vareille talked us through his new gin & tonic menu featuring the likes of lemongrass and watermelon tonic, lemon verbena and pickled grape garnishes, and gins from all over the world.

We also tried this refreshing Green Gem cocktail that featured Provençal vodka, apple, cucumber, yuzu, almond and absinthe.

Blur’s Alex James surprised us with a trio of his cheeses this week. The former Blur bassist has teamed up with cider maker Chaplin & Cork’s, founded by Bob Chaplin and Bob Cork, to champion the idea of cheese and cider matching via a new “Double the Character” marketing campaign.

Inspired by their shared passion for craftsmanship and provenance, the partnership will draw on the unique character of the cider and cheeses, and the personalities behind the brands.

We were also sent this jar of pear drops from Kingsland Drinks without any note other than its “Drink Me” tag. Curiouser and curiouser.

Never one to turn down a swanky lunch invite, we were delighted to be invited to Charles Saatchi’s favourite fish restaurant, Scott’s in Mayfair, for the launch of the 2012 vintage of Napoleon’s favourite sweet wine, Vin de Constance. But before we delved into the stickier side of things, guests including The Wine Show presenter Joe Fattorini  tried a quartet of Sauvignon Blancs made by Klein Constantia’s chief winemaker Matt Day.

The Sauvignons were paired perfectly with our starter – salmon carpaccio with pickled cucumber, fennel and a dill dressing.

Fresh faced Matt Day talked the table through four vintages of Vin de Constance – 1995, 2007, 2011 and 2012 – the first vintage he made at the estate. Tasting through the range, it’s clear Day is keen to take the wine in a new, fresher direction, lessening its time in oak and doing all he can to increase the wine’s fruity, aromatic character rather than aiming for rich notes of honeycomb and caramel early on.

The 2012 vintage was bright and alive with notes of apricot and orange

db attended an interactive masterclass with Ramos Pinto at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. Director of Production, Ana Rosas challenged guests, including Hakkasan’s Christine Parkinson, to blend their ideal Tawny using iodine-coloured ferments dating to 1909.

We were also fortunate to try the house’s flamboyant vegetal yet freshly acidic vintage from 1924, which did not reach spittoons. Fast forwarding nine decades, the latest vintage, 2014, was redolent of ripe mulberries and blueberries.

db also enjoyed its first Grub Club experience – a start-up specialising in pop-up dinner parties in London founded by Siddarth Vijayakumar and Olivia Sibony – this week.

Held in a Victorian house in Dalston complete with a three-piece jazz band in the dining room, our host for the evening was MasterChef semi-finalist Danilo Cortellini, who whipped up a four-course Italian feast that included a mackerel, burrata and aubergine starter; ricotta and asparagus tortelli with marinated egg; and spicy risotto with pork cheeks, olive powder and fresh beans.

Grub Club’s events are BYOB, allowing us to raid our cellar for delicious Italian drops like this 2011 Valpolicella Rispasso from Villa Belvedere.

Because every bath need a bicycle…

Continuing our English wine education, db headed to Denbies in Dorking this week for a tour of the vineyards and a taste of its range. At 104 hectares, Denbies is England’s largest single vineyard, planted with a plethora of varieties from Muller Thurgau and Ortega to Bacchus and Pinot Noir.

During our visit we were treated to a tasting of Denbies sparklers by winemaker Matthieu Elzinga, who is working on a top-end zero dosage blanc de blancs made from hillside Chardonnay that spends an extended amount of time on its lees for added complexity and includes barrel-aged base wines.

Keen to innovate, Elzinga is also experimenting with a Pinot Gris, a white Pinot Noir, an Orange Bacchus and white grape Solaris.

The soon to be bottled orange Bacchus

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