The week in picturesBy Neal Baker
TV pundit and former footballer Robbie Savage is partnering with John Smith’s to promote John Smith’s Golden Ale, and to celebrate the partnership, the brand opened the John Smith’s Golden Tanning Pub on Wednesday 27 April, where Robbie could be seen pulling a few pints.
The winner of Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year 2016 was announced at a packed reception at the Mall Galleries, London this week – Robert Holmes of the US won for his image, Mayasara Winery.
Hawke’s Bay winery Esk Valley Terrace’s 2016 harvest kicked off in New Zealand this week.
The British Academy Television Awards Nominees’ Party took place at the Mondrian London recently. Official Champagne and Wine partners to BAFTA, Champagne Taittinger and Villa Maria, were served to guests throughout the night.
The New Scientist magazine this week tweeted a lidar map of the Willamette river in Oregon – centre of the famous winemaking region of the same name.
Brewer Charlie Long has plenty of bottle, that’s for sure. The Wimbledon Brewery employee not only completed the gruelling 26-mile London Marathon course on Sunday April 24, but also set a new Guinness World Record for the ‘fastest time dressed as a bottle’.
The 29-year old completed the punishing event in just three hours, nine minutes and 37 seconds, annihilating the previously held record by more than five minutes.
Mr Long, said: “It was my third marathon, but the first I’ve done in a stupid outfit! “It got a bit hot in the costume during training but thankfully on the day the conditions were cool. Of course I celebrated my achievement at the end with one or two pints of Wimbledon Brewery Common Ale!”
Alastair Rimmer, cellarmaster at South African wine producer Kleine Zalze, was in London this week to present his latest wines, including the first ever release of a single varietal Kleine Zalze Cinsault under the company’s Cellar Selection label.
At a dinner on Wednesday evening at Medlar restaurant in Chelsea, Alastair explained the details of a new study taking place at Kleine Zalze to analyse the vineyards and maximise the potential of the terroir.
Robert Mondavi Winery celebrated its 50th anniversary this week with a three-day media event at its Napa Valley facility, at which it officially launched a new wine, Maestro, in honour of its founder, who died in 2008.
Pictured is Margrit Mondavi, Warren Winiarski and a bottle of the 1966 vintage.
On Thursday db ascended to the heavens, 52 floors up at Gong at The Shard – the highest bar in western Europe – to test out its new oriental-themed ‘Circle of Life’ cocktail menu.
Devised by head bartender Christian Maspes, the 18-strong list offers guests a “cocktail journey through time”, with serves grouped into categories including The Wonder Years, First Kiss, Grown Ups and Old School.
Highlights include the very pretty My First Painting, comprised of Star of Bombay gin, Cocchi Rosa, lime, Peychaud bitters, chamomile and egg white.
Elixir of Success, from the Grown Ups category, featured G’Vine gin, Isake classic sake, lemon juice, plum wine, oloroso Sherry and violet soda.
For the more adventurous there is the Remembering Grasshopper, a vibrant green serve comprised of cocoa-washed Jensen’s gin, evergreen pureé (made up of avocado, mint, apple, matcha and basil), and yoghurt liqueur. It comes garnished with a “fossilised” pair of crickets encased in a lollipop.
The Born to Fly meanwhile, made with Grey Goose vodka, fig liqueur, basil and citrus, was theatrically served in a golden cage.
Dark skies loom across a beautifully lit up London.
Surely the most spectacular spot for a swim in London? Part of the Shangri-La Hotel, Gong boasts its very own swimming pool offering spectacular views across London.
New Zealand wine enthusiasts converged on New Zealand House in Haymarket to hear from NZ wine ambassador Bob Campbell MW, who was hosting the first ‘Journey of New Zealand Wine’ course.
Held in conjunction with The New Zealand Wine Cellar, the one-day course was billed as a celebration of the finest food and drink from New Zealand.
The ever-affable Campbell discussed subjects ranging from New Zealand wine-making history to the implementation of sustainable viticulture and the country’s rapid growth in wine production.
Campbell also tipped guests off on what he believed could be New Zealand’s next ‘breakout’ white grape: Albariño.
The Journey of New Zealand Wine course included three flights of wine showcasing the range of varieties, blends and styles that New Zealand has to offer.
Among the highlights were a 2010 Seresin Viognier and a Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2012.
Campbell also chose to pit to New Zealand Pinot Noir heavyweights against each other: 2014 Ata Rangi from Martinborough and Felton Road Bannockburn from Central Otago.
Wines of Germany also hosted its annual GSharp trade tasting this week at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden. The event showcased 200 wines from more than 10 German regions, highlighting once again the remarkably the high quality of Germany’s wine output.
Visitors had the chance to taste the Top 50 Wines of Germany 2016 and meet 25 of Germany’s most dynamic winemakers. An ‘RnP’ bar also provided samples of some of the UK’s favourite German Reislings and Pinot Noir.
There was even a DJ…
A highlight of the GSharp event was the ‘GSharpen the Senses’ seminar, hosted by philosopher and taste expert Professor Barry C Smith and German wine expert Ann Krebiehl MW.
As well as giving attendees the chance to try some excellent German wines (Shelter Baden Pinot Noir 2013; Lubentiushof Gäns Mosel Kabinett Riesling 2014 and Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 2009 were standouts), the seminar discussed topics such as the importance of the trigeminal nerve in sparkling wine tasting and the effect of listening to Tubular Bells on the perception of a wine’s acidity.
Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe was in full wine-ambassadorial mode at a Wines of Virginia tasting and dinner at Dukes (of Ian Fleming ‘shaken, not stirred’ fame) in St James’s this week.
His Excellency explained how Virginia’s historic links with the UK – the Pilgrim Fathers founding the colony of Virginia in 1607; the beginnings of the British Empire and all that – extended to the wine trade – the UK being one of the biggest export markets for Virginia’s wine industry.
Though few Brits are aware, Virginia is the fifth-largest wine producing state in the US, and the Virginian wine industry contributes $750 million per year to the Virginia economy.
A large state with diverse soils, topography and microclimates, Virginia focuses predominantly on Bordeaux varieties, in particular Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, while Viognier is particularly favoured for whites.
Among the wines presented at the dinner were Barboursville Octagon 2012, Boxwood Estate Topiary 2010 and Veritas Monticello Petit Verdot.
It may look like some old-world festival illuminations but these mini fires are actually there to prevent frost damage to the Chardonnay vines in Chablis. Winegrowers across the Burgundy region have been forced to take drastic action as freezing temperatures threatened vines during the crucial period of budbreak this week. Photo: BIVB / Aurélien IBANEZ
As db reported, vineyards throughout the Burgundy region have been affected – the higher sites of Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois the most seriously.
The full extent of the damage is not yet known and it will probably not be until next week that the full effects of the freezing weather become clear. Photo: BIVB / Aurélien IBANEZ
Maverick South African winemaker Pieter Walser was also in London this week to present his wines to customers of his UK importer, online merchant Swig, at Villandry St James. Here the prolific winemaker – who makes around 30 different wines from leased vineyards across South Africa – is pictured with db‘s Darren Smith.
Although Walser’s new ‘Neurowine‘ was not at the tasting, around 12 of his huge and expanding Blank Bottle range were. The Moment of Silence Chenin blend pictured left was a highlight.
db was lucky enough to be invited to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire this week to celebrate the launch of Lanson’s first single vineyard Champagne, Clos Lanson. We arrived at dusk just as the sun was setting, which cast a glorious golden light on the hotel.
Our host for the evening was Lanson’s charming chef de cave, Hervé Dantan, who talked us through a tutored tasting of every vintage of Clos Lanson from 2006 to 2015 made from the plot, starting with the unfinished 2015 and working back to the first release of the 2006 vintage.
Dantan described the 2015 vintage in Champagne as “great” and boasting “a lot of richness”. He believes the 2012 vintage meanwhile, shows “great balance between freshness and maturity”. “Making a wine every year from the site goes against the spirit of vintage Champagne, but this plot is unique and allows us the conditions to elaborate a wine each year due to the warmer climate it enjoys being in the centre of Reims,” he said.
Former tennis ace Tim Henman was a guest of honour at the dinner and sportingly posted for selfies with attendees.
Tim made the most of the free flowing fizz during the evening, no doubt happy he no longer has to worry about not being able to drink before a match.
Among the local, seasonal treats we enjoyed during the five-course feast were hand-dived scallops with broad beans, bacon and a pea purée.
The meal finished on a high note with a delectable strawberry pud with kirsch zabaglione and strawberry marshmallows.
The next day we headed to former River Café chef Theo Randall’s solo venture at the InterContinental hotel on Park Lane for a lunch celebrating the 2014 vintage of Domaine les Alexandrins, a joint venture between Rhône titans Nicolas Jaboulet, Marc Perrin and Nicolas Sorrel.
During the lunch Jaboulet spoke of the need for producers in Hermitage to work together to make the Rhône appellation “sexy” again.
Randall’s time at The River Café was evident in his cooking, with dishes including silky veal tartare and ravioli crammed with pigeon and pancetta.
Veuve Clicquot partnered GQ magazine to celebrate the best of British produce at its Food & Drinks awards at 100 Wardour Street this week where Oscar winner and national treasure Kate Winslet presented London-based Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli with a Lifetime Achievement award.
Wine Car Boot founder Ruth Spivey won the Best Sommelier award for her work at Craft London, which was presented to her by Moët Hennessy UK’s managing director Jo Thornton.