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The week in pictures

db met with Champagne Charles Heidsieck’s fast talking executive director, Stephen Leroux, at the Institute of Directors this week to taste the Brut Reserve, rosé and prestige cuvée Brut des Millenaires 1995 and find out the latest news from the brand, which has recently partnered with the English National Opera, and won listings at the Hurlingham Club and Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant via its UK agent Liberty.

db was delighted to be invited to 28-50 on Maddox Street in Mayfair to a tasting and lunch hosted by leading Sicilian producer Planeta where Francesca Planeta guided us through the ever-expanding Planeta range that now spans six estates. Some of the most delightful wines came from Etna, with its Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese giving top Nebbiolo a run for its money.

db headed to one of our all-time favourite bars this week – the Nightjar in Old Street, where, to the sounds of a live Cuban band, we made good headway into its new summer cocktail menu inspired by tropical tiki flavours. Among the new sips created by new head bartender Martina Brezanova was the Moulin Rogue (top left) blending Belvedere Vodka, a gin spice infusion, ratafia de Bourgogne, Maraschino, lemon, egg white and ylang ylang.

Supporting Andy Murray in his campaign to lift the Wimbledon title for a second time, The Langham hotel’s bar manager Silviu Stan created a tennis-themed cocktail, the You Got Served. The summery drink blends Kamm & Sons with Lanson Champagne topped with a light cream strawberry cloud.

This week, father and son Aurelio Montes Sr and Aurelio Montes Jr bravely went head to head at a comparative tasting of their wines held at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental hotel on Park Lane.

With Montes Sr at the helm of his eponymous winery in Chile and Montes Jr looking after Kaiken in Argentina, it was fascinating to compare wines made from the same grape variety on both sides of the Andes. For us, Kaiken’s Malbec won out over Montes Sr’s Chilean effort, but when it comes to Cabernet, Montes Sr’s wines proved superior, boasting elegance, finesse and an appealing minty undertone.

The Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group launched heir sixth site in Covent Garden this week, laying on a feast of sushi, sashimi, ramen and Gekkeikan Royal Warrant Sake. Launched in 2012 and owned by the Japan Centre, Shoryu Ramen already has five sites across London. Shoryu’s sake sommelier, Mimi Tokumine is one of only a handful of sake sommeliers in Britain and helped shape the Shoryu’s Covent Garden sake offering. Its drinks menu will include a range of Japanese inspired cocktails, made with sake and whisky, seasonal sake flights and Japanese beers such as Kirin, Asahi and Musashino.

Symington Family Estates was able to help a young re-home a peregrine falcon ringed by the West Cornwall Ringing Group in the UK and badly injured by an illegal gun shot while making its first migratory flight to southern Europe. The wounded bird was found in Portugal in December 2015 and was taken to the Wildlife Rescue Centre at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD) in Vila Real, which since 2011 has been supported by Symington Family Estates.

Having been nursed back to health over the past seven months, the bird was returned to the wild at Quinta dos Canais in the Douro. Canais is one of the Symington family’s remotest vineyards and is home to a rich variety of wildlife.

Spirits brand Lucas Bols brought together members of the drinks trade for Bols Business Class in Bristol. The one day forum covered a range of topics from changing trends and popular serves to the changing face of the UK on-trade, and was designed to enhance success in the bar trade across the industry.

Speakers included Ago Perrone from The Connaught, Elliot Ball, co-founder of the Cocktail Trading Company, Imbibe’s Clinton Cawood and former Sailor Jerry brand ambassador and now owner of newly acclaimed Bath bar The Black Horse, Louis Lewis-Smith.


The Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) association of 11 historic family wineries held its annual meeting at Bodegas Torres in Penedès this week. Attended by 70 members of different generations from France, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Spain, the three-day congregation at Vilafranca del Penedès aimed to strengthen ties between family-owned wineries such as Torres, Antinori, Egon Müller-Scharzhof, Vega-Sicilia and Joseph Drouhin.

This year was the third time that Torres has hosted the wine families, coinciding with the years in which Torres has held the rotating presidency of the association. “PFV represents an opportunity to share experiences, know-how and the values of different generations,” outgoing president Mireia Torres said, “an opportunity to join forces and go beyond what we would be capable of on our own. In the end, we’re all facing similar challenges in a changing world: by sharing our knowledge, we can advance faster and pave the way for future generations.”

From now until July 2017, the presidency will be held by Egon Müller from the Mosel.

Former Louis Jadot president and now managing director of Burgundy producer Remoissenet Père et Fils Bérnard Repolt takes a breather with Hakkasan head of wine Olivier Gasselin (left) and Brown’s Hotel head sommelier Jepherson Proudhon following a winemaker lunch at M restaurant in Victoria. Repolt covered topics such as the decimating, frost-blighted 2016 vintage, the winemaker’s taboo of premox and the impropriety of selling Burgundy in supermarkets.

Thursday evening saw the leading lights of the wine industry come together (for the first time post-Brexit) at the IWC dinner, where Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, The Coop’s, and Majestic were named as some of the big winners of the evening. Argentine winemaker Jose Zuccardi of Familia Zuccardi in Mendoza won the lifetime achievement award.

db enjoyed wines from the Medoc with The Cru Bourgeois and Wines of Rioja, along with TV wine presenter and wine expert Olly Smith and Lottie West, senior account director at Wines from Rioja’s UK office Phipps.

db also squeezed in a visit to take in the gardens at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, where New Zealand wine brand, Villa Maria, was the official sponsor of the Cook & Grow Theatre.

Hatch Mansfield MD Patrick McGrath said there had been a tremendous response to the sponsorship (the Villa Maria tent was offering samples and was pretty packed out all day) and the laid-back atmosphere of the show – more so than RHS Chelsea – which was perfectly in keeping the kiwi wine brand.

Other drinks brands we spotted included Masons Dry Yorkshire gin, Pimms, Warner Edwards, Wood & Warner and vermouth brand Belsazar

As well as taking in talks at the Grow Theater, and a small sample of Villa Maria, db gathered some gardening inspiration with favourite gardens including the Dog’s Life Garden from the Garden Trust, CCLA’s summer retreat, and the lavender garden, which came with its own still.

Through the foliage, db briefly spotted Monty Don filming for the BBC in the feel good front gardens. These four small garden were designed by amateur gardeners following a nationwide competition launched by the RHS as part of its Greening Grey Britain initiative.

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