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The week in pictures

It’s been a big week for Scotch auctions.

The Old Orkney ‘0.0.’ Real Liqueur Whisky from Stromness Distillery won £4,000 at auction (Photo: Whisky.Auction)

First off, an “extremely rare” miniature bottle of whisky sold for £4,000 at auction on Wednesday.

The Scotch itself – a miniature bottle of Old Orkney ‘O.O.’ Real Liqueur Whisky – was bottled in the 1920s to 1930s, but the seller didn’t realise how valuable it was until he put it up for sale on Whisky.Auction.

It formed part of an 84 bottle-strong collection, which the seller originally bought at auction for just £100.

Then last night (Thursday 24 October), a bottle of 60 year-old 1926 Macallan sold for a new world record price of £1.5 million at Sotheby’s in London.

Offered with a pre-sale estimate of £350,000-450,000 at Sotheby’s sale in London Olympia today (24 October), the final hammer price is almost three times higher than the initial valuation.

In music-meets-fizz, American rock icon Lenny Kravitz has teamed up with Dom Pérignon to create three limited edition bottles at his Kravitz Design studio.

This year, Kravitz has also designed a limited edition gift box, candelabra box and table-bar to go with the new releases.

On Wednesday, db caught up with the winemakers, marketing and sales directors of some of Argentina’s biggest wineries at the Barullo Sessions tasting in Clerkenwell, London.

The likes of Catena Zapata, Bodegas Norton and Viñalba were all in attendance, showing attendees from the trade and consumers alike the new directions they’re taking wine wine production in Mendoza.

A fair few estates in the region are starting to pay closer attention to terroir. One of these is Bodegas Staphyle, which has just launched a brand new Malbec made with grapes grown in Potrerillos is a district in Mendoza.

David Bonomi of Bodega Norton and Per Se gave a masterclass in London on the subject of changing winemaking in Argentina and a deep dive into Cabernet Franc.

Not everyone believes sub-regions are the way forward for Argentina’s winemakers. Diane Fabre of Viñalba told db that it is still too soon to start using microclimates as a sales tool to attract consumers.

“We still have quite a lot of space to grow with Mendoza,” she said.

A drinks brand seems to have replaced perfume as the celebrity sideline of choice. The latest star to delve into the drinks world is British model and businessman David Gandy (right), who has partnered with publisher Stewart Lee on Savile Row Gin, which is made at Langley Distillery in the midlands and shines a light on kumquat as a botanical.

db’s Lucy Shaw had the enviable task of interviewing the pair at historic tailor Henry Poole (a favourite of Churchill) on Savile Row where David gave her is best blue steel for the camera.

She couldn’t resist grabbing her own photo with Gandy, who, after appearing in an advert for Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue fragrance shot in Capri in 2007 by Mario Testino, has gone on to become one of the most famous and successful male models in the world.

Earlier that day Lucy headed to Spring at Somerset House, run by Skye Gyngell, who was this week voted the Ayala SquareMeal Female Chef of the Year, for a lovely lunch hosted by Clarence Dillon Wines, led by effervescent managing director, Gerard Blanloeil. We love it when a wine label matches our surroundings…

Also on hand to talk us through the wines was Clarence Dillon’s operational director, Nathalie Bassot, who explained that the Clarendelle wine brand came about in 2005 to offer consumers more affordable expressions of Bordeaux that are ready to drink – first growth Haut-Brion also falls under the Clarence Dillon umbrella.

Over lunch we tried an array of Clarendelle wines including the zippy, Semillon-led Clarendelle Blanc and 2016 red expressions from St-Emilion and the Médoc daringly paired with wild halibut.

Poet laureate Simon Armitage signs his butt of Sherry in Jerez

In a tradition dating back to the 17th century, Yorkshire-born Simon Armitage was given a butt of Sherry to celebrate his appointment as poet laureate this week.

Armitage is the 21st poet laureate in the UK. Traditionally, the poet laureate was rewarded with a small stipend and a butt of Sherry (known as a ‘sack’) by the monarch of the day.

Armitage travelled to Jerez to choose and sign his Sherry barrel, bequeathed to him by the Consejo Regulador de los Vinos de Jerez y Manzanilla (CRDO).

“I’m honoured to accept the kind offer of the Sherry in keeping with the long tradition of the office of the poet laureate,” he said.

“Like laureates before me, I hope to put the bottles to good use as gifts or to raise money in the name of poetry, but look forward to enjoying the odd tipple myself.”

On Wednesday, spirits label Martini hosted an aperitivo evening with TV presenter, restaurateur, and foodie it-girl, Laura Jackson, at Radio Alice in Hoxton.

The evening celebrated the launch of the MARTINI x Laura Jackson bespoke aperitivo menu, which will be available to enjoy at Radio Alice from now until the end of November.

Each dish has been carefully curated by Laura and the chefs at Radio Alice to pair with MARTINI Fiero & Tonic – the perfect Italian aperitivo accompaniment.

Jackson herself is one half of the Jackson & Levine supper club brand she formed with Alice Levine in 2013.

In ‘denial’, we may be in the belly of autumn, but Mexican beer brand Sol is keeping Londoners’ vitamin D topped up with a pop-up bar where “the sun never sets”.

Open to consumers from Thursday 24 to Saturday 26th October in Shoreditch, The Sol Bar is decked out with special sun lamps that give the optimal amount of sunlight in a day, stimulating the release of serotonin and allowing them to enjoy the benefits of the sun, along with the scents, sounds and warm breeze of the summer air.

There’s free beer and cocktails, too.

Meanwhile, vodka brand Reyka is embracing the change of weather, and has now set up the “world’s first” bar on a glacier, taking experiential PR stunts to a whole new level. Literally.

The brand, which is owned by William Grant & Sons, claims to source water from the glacier for the vodka’s production. Langjökull, the nearest glacier to the capital city of Reykjavik, is the second largest ice cap in Iceland, at 935 square kilometres. At its highest point it sits 1,450m above sea level.

News of the adventurous pop-up was teased by Reyka last month.

Kicking off the week in style, db’s editor, Lucy Shaw, headed to Flor in Borough Market to lunch with chef turned winemaker Maria Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley. Joined by Freya Miller of Pol Roger Portfolio, during lunch the trio enjoyed a bottle of Sinskey’s sink contact Pinot Gris, which paired seamlessly with a variety of dishes, including purple sprouting broccoli tempura with bergamot.

“When people hear the word ‘Napa’ they think of big bold reds but we’re the opposite. We always have food in mind when we create our wines and are very hands off in the winery. We want to create lower alcohol, high acid aromatic wines you want to drink more than a glass of,” Sinskey said.

Among our favourite dishes at Flor is the anchovy toast blanketed in lardo – a salty, punchy taste sensation!

Cloudy Bay’s winemaker, Daniel Sorrell, was in town this week to launch the 2019 vintage of the iconic New Zealand Sauvignon. During a tasting of the newbie and two older vintages Sorrell revealed that he takes a Champagne approach to blending the wine in order to maintain its signature style.

In 2019 Sorrell harvested 86 different parcels across 350 hectares from the Rapaura, Fairhill, Renwick and Brancott sub-regions in the Wairau Valley, 62 of which made it into the final blend. Sorrell describes 2019 as a “classic” Cloudy Bay vintage. “It has everything we chase for in terms of character and flavour profile. We look for stone fruit and citrus flavours, elegance, balance, aromatic intensity, concentration, tension and acidity,” he said.

Also in east London, The Alchemist, famed for its theatrical cocktails, has hired professional tea-leaf reader Gail Hart to host sessions every Wednesday evening for six weeks, reading leaves and making predictions as we head into 2020.

The sessions will be available to book from 7pm – 9pm and will be £15 for the Deja Brew cocktail and a full 15 minutes reading with Gail (can be booked in groups).

After three days of cocktail and coffee contests and challenges, a duo from Australia have been named winner of Licor 43’s Bartenders & Baristas Challenge.

The winning cocktail, made by Jessie Williamson from Blackout Paddington and Millie Tang from The Gresham in Brisband, was called “Island Hopper”: a mix of 20 ml Licor 43 Original, 20 ml espresso coffee , 15 ml Coconut & pandan syrup, 10 ml Fernet Branca, 1 dash Angostura bitters, and finished with a splash of cava and nutmeg.

In harvest news, Bluebell Vineyard in Sussex got its grape picking under way this week, and sent over some atmospheric shots of the team at work.

Founded in 2005, Bluebell is a family-run vineyard specialising in sparkling wine.

And finally… db’s resident art lover, Lucy Shaw, was delighted to be invited to St James’s Court, part of the Taj hotel group, to an art and food pairing dinner hosted by Bernadette Murphy, author of Van Gogh’s Ear.

During the dinner Bernadatte talked through the major events in Van Gogh’s life, including a brief spell of flat sharing with Paul Gauguin at his little yellow house in Arles. Among the dishes we tried were this tuna tartare dish with mushroom cappuccino in a hat tip to Van Gogh’s obsession with Japanese prints. Another dish, a blueberry granita with apple jelly, reflected Van Gogh’s arrival in Provence during a rare moment of snow.

Among the wines on pour was this Merlot dominant Côtes de Bordeaux from Château de Ricard, a plush drop full of blackberries and spice.

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