The week in pictures
Champagne House Piper Heidseick kicked off a star-studded week as the official sparkling wine partner for the 90th Academy Awards.
Over 1,500 bottles of French fizz, were popped and more than 8,500 glasses served to Academy Award winners and revelers throughout the evening.
Not to be outdone, Francis Ford Coppola winery signed a three-year deal with the Academy Awards to become its official wine sponsor in 2017 – a natural fit for the California winery owned by film director and Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola.
Coppola wines — which are also the exclusive choice of the Sundance Film Festival — were the only ones to feature at the awards dinner and Grovenors Ball afterparty.
The Oscars may have stolen the show this week, but one film release has stood out against all others this year, Marvel’s Black Panther. so much so, that a lawyer in Texas is trying to register a trademark for the world’s first “Wakandan” wine festival, dedicated to the fictitious homeland of T’Challa, the film’s protagonist.
However, Marvel and Disney could object to the application, having already submitted documents to trademark “Wakanda” for a number of uses back in November.
Tartan was the name of the game at the 2018 Auld Enemy dinner at the Balmoral sponsored by Pol Roger, which raises money for various rugby charities.
Taking its name from the fact that England and Scotland are longtime rivals, this year’s dinner raised money for the Doddie Weir Foundation, aimed at finding a cure for motor neurone disease. Doddie Weir (third from right in red tartan) is a former Scottish international lock and British and Irish Lion player who now raises funds for those living with the condition.
The reception always precedes the oldest international rugby fixture in the world, The Calcutta Cup.
Over in London, Five independent merchants joined forces in King’s Cross on Wednesday to host the Il Collettivo Tasting, showcasing the exciting and progressive wines being produced across Italy.
The tasting was co-hosted by 36 winemakers from Italy’s key winegrowing regions, with around 300 wines available to try. Author Ian d’Agata, one of Italy’s best-known wine experts, presented two masterclasses on ‘Native Italian grape varieties and their terroirs’.
Speaking of wine tastings, the drinks business hopped down to the Institute of Masters of Wine to sample the best expressions China’s wine industry has to offer, courtesy of the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC).
As those in the industry may know, China is just one of the countries tipped to become a major player in the world of wine. There was an impressive selection of Cabernet Sauvignon on offer, as well as some two stand-out Ice Wines produced by China’s Tonghua and Gansu Qilian wineries. Tonghua sits in the northeastern Jilin province, which borders Russia, while the Gansu Qilian winery is housed in China’s mountainous Gansu region and recently celebrated its 20th birthday.
A scouting team from global wine inventory Wine Explorers went on a tour of the Americas, starting with Ocoa Bay Estate — the only winery in the Caribbean, located in the Dominican Republic — its 64th country explored, after 3 years of travels.
Being in paradise, the winery also has its own clubhouse and an infinity pool, where guests can enjoy a glass of vino and watch the sunset.
Vinexpo New York was a roaring success, according to attendees this week, which saw domestic goddess Martha Stewart in attendance, alongside 500 exhibitors and 2,000 buyers and journalists.
The whirlwind two-day show will return to the Big Apple next March. “It’s not one of those let’s-go-and-see occasions,” Vinexpo CEO, Guillaume Deglise, promised in advance of the opening, and others agreed that regularity was important to build up a lasting presence.
Several Bordeaux exhibitors were in attendance, and Bordeaux Wine Council head Allan Sichel said: “It needs to have repetition here for several years; it needs to become an icon.”
This week in “Archaeological Discoveries with a Link to The Drinks Trade”: a nineteenth century Dutch gin bottle containing a scrolled note, dated 12 June 1886, was found by an Australian family on a remote beach on Wedge Island.
The team at the WA Museum found that the bottle was made by Daniel Visser and Zonen in Schiedam and is believed to have originally contained gin, or genever – the original juniper-flavoured spirit from which today’s gin originates.
Back in Blighty, Scotland’s very first female malt distiller, Liz Stewart is retiring today after 31 years’ service at Dalwhinnie Distillery, working in the warehouse, mash house and the still house.
In recognition of her dedicated service and iconic role as Scotland’s first female operator, Diageo is marking the occasion with the launch of a new exclusive distillery bottling aptly entitled ‘Lizzie’s Dram’.
Aneta Izdebska, brewer at Marstons-owned microbrewery DE14, was sent to Coventry on International Women’s Day for a meeting of strong, independent minds and a collaboration with Twisted Barrel Ale
Teaming up with Ritchie Bosworth, head Brewer of Coventry’s Twisted Barrel Ale brewery, their collaborative brew will be a 4.8% abv Hazy Belgian Session IPA, sold in cask and keg. The new beer will be available on tap at Twisted Barrel’s taproom, as well as a string of local pubs.
And while we’re on the subject of International Women’s Day, we couldn’t finish the week without mentioning BrewDog. The craft beer company proved satire is not its strong point with the unveiling of Pink IPA, a beer the firm said is “not for girls” in its press release, despite the label clearly stating that it is, in fact, “beer for girls”.
The self-described “send-up of the lazy marketing efforts targeting the female market” was widely criticised on Twitter for its lazy attempt at targeting the female market.
However, the brewer’s intentions were noble. Women received a 20% discount on pints of Punk IPA on 8th March, while 20% of revenue of all Punk and Pink IPA sold went towards charities empoering women in the workplace.
To coincide with International Women’s Day, wine writer Nina Caplan launched her new book, The Wandering Vine: Wine, the Romans and Me at Ibérica in Great Portland Street last night, which was attended by the great and good of the wine world and notoriously incognito restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin.
Attendees to the annual Wines From Spain tasting were treated to stunning sweeping views over London at this year’s event took place at Sky Garden inside the ‘Walkie Talkie’.
Among the most interesting finds during the tasting was the Innovation Bar where hispanophiles like Sarah Jane Evans MW and Tim Atkin MW picked the one wine they feel represents the cutting edge of what’s going on in Spanish winemaking at the moment.
We also found time to visit celebrity favourite Sexy Fish in Mayfair this week to try out some of the daring cocktails on its new menu, where everything from lager and cider to Pinot Noir make it into the sips.
The event took place in the aquarium room in the restaurant’s basement, which reminded us fondly of the famous meet cute scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. Sadly, db didn’t discover Leonardo di Caprio hiding behind the fish tank.