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Week in pictures: 24 February – 1 March

This week in pictures includes Douglas Blyde at The Ritz, Sarah Neish at the Metzendorff annual tasting, Louis Thomas and James Evison tasting sake at Umu in Mayfair, and Wines of Spain heads to the The Pelligon.


Senior staff writer Louis Thomas and digital editor James Evison visited Umu where they tasted a collection of sakes that were paired with the Michelin-starred restaurant’s kaiseki meal. Across a number of courses, sweet, dry and sparkling sakes complemented the range of outstanding fish dishes.


Editor of db Sarah Neish attended the Metzendorff Annual Portfolio Tasting this week at One Great George St, as well as attending a special masterclass on Fladgate still and sparkling wines, including a vertical of Principal Grande Reserva.

The Ritz

Douglas Blyde took refuge from the rain in The Ritz hotel’s Rivoli Bar. Since summer 2023, this art deco masterpiece has been captained by charismatic head mixologist, Michele Saladino, a “tourist entertainer” from Sicily turned barback at The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar where he fast ascended to become a mixologist, then the small, but mighty, Amaro, Kensington High Street as senior bartender. Under the golden glow of the Orient Express like milieu at The Ritz, Blyde tried February’s Cocktail of the Month. Called “ALPENGLOW”, the dusty pink drink, served in a broad coupe, is intended to evoke “the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on high mountains.”

It seamlessly combines bright of form Cotswolds Distillery Reserve Single Malt whisky with freshly juiced rhubarb, rhubarb to the fore Amaro Santoni, which also comprises iris, and a homemade rhubarb cordial and a vanilla syrup, both crafted at Saladino’s lab beneath the ever expanding five-star property, which is where he spends half his hours. Carefully measured citrus acid brought harmony, with Perrier sparkling water, chosen for its “small, persistent perlage” adding to the feel of the drink. Interestingly, despite the richness of components, the barley character of the Cotswolds Reserve clearly shone through. The idea for the drink came from fellow bartender, Andrea Panetta.

The monthly cocktail programme, which is completely playlisted until 2025, runs in conjunction with the core menu, including nine new drinks by Santoni, and a range of antique spirits. Located in Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour, Cotswolds Distillery is the largest producer of English whisky, attracting some 100,000 visitors annually to both the distillery, including the best performing salespeople of pleasure from The Ritz, and two satellite stores in Broadway, and Bourton-on-the-Water.

The Escoffier Room

Douglas Blyde joined a truffle enhanced five-course dinner at The Escoffier Room at Westminster Kingsway College. Run, on rotation, by students of the culinary college, the refurbished restaurant takes the name of one of the founders of the institution, Auguste Escoffier, who oversaw the kitchens of The Savoy in the Victoria era. Celebrating the favourably aromatic, white and black truffle-enriched products by the Rome based La Rustichella (1986), the bill of fare was created in collaboration with Senior Chef Lecturer and game specialist and author, José Souto, with Norman Fu, Head of Third Year Professional Chefs Diploma, himself a mega diner, overseeing the be-toqued kitchen brigade. Wines were provided by Antica Cascina dei Conti di Roero, a maker specialising in Arneis and Nebbiolo, founded by the cousins of the Roagna winery.

The evening provided Blyde his first sparkling rendition of Nebbiolo (Maria Teresea Spumante Rose Brut 2020), reaped from chalk and sand, matched with a rich butternut squash soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and white truffle oil. Another well realised, prettily presented course was nori wrapped coho salmon with sole truffle mousse and salmon skin crackling, paired with a 2020 Riserva Roero Arneis, its name translating to “terrible child” given it is said to be hard to vinify. This handsome wine was poured into Burgundy balloons. Truffles were best deployed, however, in a standout aged English rose veal loin Rossini and sauce Périgueux, paired with 2019 Roero Riserva Vigna Sant’Anna, as ripe as a perfect avocado. Guests included Dhruv Baker (Tempus Charcuterie), Pratap Chahal (That Hungry Chef), Hari Ghotra (development chef, Virgin Atlantic), and Emma Young (The Cheese Explorer).  (

Wines from Spain

The Wines from Spain annual tasting has been moved to The Pelligon in London on 14 May 2024. A regional tasting will also be held at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh on 20 May.

The Wines from Spain Annual Tasting is the most comprehensive tasting of Spanish wines in the UK. It features established Spanish wine brands, importers and producers eager to present their latest releases and vintages from across Spain’s regions and DOs. Around 50 importers and exporters of Spanish wines will present their range to trade and press visitors.

Nearly 1,000 wines will be available to taste, from the classic to the irreverent.  A regional tasting will also be held in Edinburgh on Monday 20 May with more than 200 wines.

Fernando Muñoz, UK Director for Foods and Wines from Spain, said “We are really looking forward to our 2024 tastings in London and Edinburgh. Our new home in London’s Canary Wharf gives us the perfect backdrop to present an exciting range of modern Spanish wines spanning all DOs, regions and styles. We also look forward to reconnecting with the Scottish trade in Edinburgh.”

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