The week in pictures

Wine fraud

In white collar crime, six people have been arrested in Spain for adulterating wine as part of an organised international operation involving over 60 companies.

The arrests were made in Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid in mid-July after evidence was found than an international network was producing and marketing adulterated grape must, wine and spirits. The criminal activity is thought to have been worth €100 million.

The group has been charged with using isoglucose, or corn syrup, and not grape must, to make wine, and grain- instead of grape-derived spirit to make brandy.

 

Barry Sterling

Barry Sterling, a pioneer of the Californian sparkling wine industry and the co-founder of Iron Horse Vineyards, has died at the age of 90.

Sterling passed away after a long illness at his home on Sunday, according to a statement from his family.

Along with his wife Audrey, Sterling bought the Iron Horse estate in 1976 at a time when planting in Sonoma County was still advised against due to the risk of frost. While also producing cool climate still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Iron Horse became known for its sparkling wine, and along with LVMH’s Domaine Chandon, was one of the pioneers of high quality fizz.

 

Brewdog

Taking targeted advertising to its logical extreme, an energy company in Scotland has tried to get Brewdog co-founder James Watt’s attention after he announced plans to turn his business into the “world’s most sustainable drinks company”.

Watt shared a sketch on Linkedin last week detailing plans to turn Brewdog’s brewery and operations 100% carbon neutral in two years.

Amber Energy then erected a billboard featuring the sketch, and asking Watt to get in touch on Ellon Rd, Aberdeen (they’ve even sent us the postcode, but we’re not sharing, for obvious reasons), in the hope the founder might see it on his morning commute.

 

Sustainable fashion

Speaking of sustainability, Dutch shoemaker Mercer Amsterdam has launched a pair of trainers made from a leather substitute crafted from leftover grape pomace.

Called W3RD Wine Pack, the trainers were made in collaboration with Italian firm Vegea, which specialises in the production of vegan leather.

 

Breaking Bad

In celebrity drinks, we joined a tasting with Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul to learn about their Mezcal label, Dos Hombres, which is launching in the UK exclusively through Selfridges.

Paul said the idea to get into the booze business came about seven years after finishing Breaking Bad. They decided it was still too soon to work on another TV show together given they wanted to pursue other solo projects, but they did want to do something.

“I said ‘what about the booze business, what about mezcal?’, and Brian laughed. I wasn’t joking,” he said.  While Paul was used to the trendy craft mezcals popping up in L.A. cocktail bars in recent years, Cranston knew it as a cheap “punishment drink” in his student days for people who turned up late to the party or made a bad joke.

They spent a week travelling across Mexico looking for the perfect mezcalero in Oaxaca, eventually finding one that Paul said, “honestly looked like a meth lab in a forest”.

They launched Dos Hombres last year and, now, it has made it to the UK. It’s available at Selfridges’ Oxford Street store in London and online, priced at £69.99 (US$91.80) per 700ml bottle.

Asked whether they thought about expanding the range with some ready-to-drink canned cocktails, Cranston told the drinks business: “We have tried testing ways of doing that, but I won’t lie to you, it didn’t go so well.”

Kestrel beer’s new brand ambassador

In tenuous links, Scottish beer brand Kestrel has launched ad campaign built around the transformation of a dilapidated 1930s classic British car into a multiple UK land speed record breaker.

The Riley Kestrel 9 was discovered rotting in a barn in Holland where it had languished since 1965. Now the story of its “blood, sweat and beers” transformation from rusted heap to cutting-edge racer called the Flying Kestrel will feature on a new Amazon Prime TV show launching in September.

The car, which was officially launched at its first official test day by another famous Riley – Countdown mathematician Rachel Riley – will become a key component of Kestrel’s new marketing programme, serving as a roving brand ambassador with its own range of clothing and merchandising, a dedicated website and social media channels, brand advertising and PR campaigns and a schedule of guest appearances at live shows and events across the UK and internationally.

The Gibson reopens

This week, we were told that east(ish) London cocktail bar The Gibson reopened over the weekend

The menu will change weekly, and you’ll only be able to book in Fridays and Saturdays throughout August.

Why do we know this? Drinks PR group Shift6 have been doing pro bono work for London’s cocktail bars to help them get up and running again. So far they’re working with Trailer Happiness, London Cocktail Club and Le Petit Sud to entice punters back in.

 

Liquor 43 improves your big night in

In “there is still a pandemic on”, Spanish liqueur brand Licor 43 has launched HomeQuiz – an interactive online game for family and friends to play remotely.

Better still, you don’t have to convince your parents to download an app to play. Instead, you go to https://licor43.homequiz.app/ and share a code via WhatsApp or text to invite friends. And to avoid those increasingly tense and competitive moments in your weekly family quiz, there are no “right or wrong” answers. Players simply vote for their favourite.

 

Tenuta Luce launches new book

Italian wine estate Tenuta Luce is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a book of images and illustrations curated by photographer Cris Toala Olivares and illustrator Anna Godeassi.

The book was created to honour its flagship wine, Luce, and tell the story of the expression founders Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi created 25 years ago in Montalcino

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