The week in pictures

4th August, 2017

Astoria, the official partner of the Tour de Pologne, was on the podium again this year. Marking the second year of its sponsorship of the event, the Italian producer created a special bottle, with colours and symbols that represent the different stages.

Deliveroo’s most popular beers by city

4th August, 2017

To celebrate International Beer Day, delivery service Deliveroo has revealed the most-ordered beers in cities across England and Wales, uncovering wide regional variation.

With its ‘Balti Triangle,’ Birmingham has often been cited as the curry capital of the UK. It doesn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that Tiger beer owned by Heineken Asia Pacific, traditionally served in Britain’s Indian restaurants, is the preferred brew of the region.

When it comes to the most popular beer, Oxford and Cambridge are divided. While Cambridge locals expressed a preference for London-based Beavertown, Oxford opted for AB InBev’s Aussie lager brand, Foster’s.

Founded in 2013 by William Shu and Greg Orlowski originally as a British food delivery specialist, Deliveroo launched a dedicated alcohol delivery service in July 2016 within the M25. It partnered with Majestic and Brewdog as well as other merchants including Lea & Sandeman, Vagabond Wines, The Sampler and Jeroboams.

Prior to this launch, customers were already able to obtain alcohol from the same restaurants that they ordered food from.

In September 2016, Deliveroo announced plans to expand its alcohol delivery service outside of London, stating that it was building up a list of partners located throughout the UK.

Deliveroo now works with over 20,000 restaurants and has over 30,000 delivery drivers. With its headquarters in London, it also operates in over 140 cities across 12 countries: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, United Arab Emirates and of course, the United Kingdom.  

Click through to view the results in full. 

Everything you need to know about Prosecco

4th August, 2017

Prosecco may be simple to say, but it is a surprisingly complex product. We guide you through the intricacies of this popular Italian sparkling wine, so you can sip like an expert.

The popularity of Prosecco seems to be showing no signs of slowing and, as the market continues to expand, so do the number of producers and the range of styles, not forgetting, importantly, the amount of vineyards planted to supply the growth – and hence, there’s never been a more important time to be a little more discerning about the fizzy phenomenon of this decade.

In essence, key to the character of Prosecco is the location, grape variety and the production method. And, to deal with the former first, the Italian fizz comes from north-east Italy in an arc-shaped area of hills and valleys that are found inland of Venice.

The area of production is large, currently spanning 20,000 hectares, and a further 3,000ha was added to the existing hectarage last year in an attempt to meet the rising demand for Prosecco.

Read more

PROSECCO DOC TO ALLOCATE FURTHER 3,000 HECTARES

However, even with a total of 23,000ha, the Prosecco region is smaller than Champagne, which covers 33,000ha in total, an area that is one third greater than Italy’s sparkling powerhouse.

Having noted that, the output from Prosecco is bigger, and in 2016 approached 475 million bottles, significantly more than Champagne’s average production of around 320m. (This is because the yields-per-hectare in Champagne are lower due to nature – particularly frost at flowering and bunch rot during harvest – as well as the strict regulation process in Champagne to ensure that the supply of grapes is roughly kept in line with the demand for the French fizz).

As we note below in more detail, the best areas for growing the grapes for Prosecco are the hills of Asolo (and Montello), Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, and, at the top of the quality pyramid, the slopes of Cartizze.

Read more

BRITS QUAFF A THIRD OF ALL PROSECCO PRODUCED

Also vital to the distinctive nature of Prosecco is the grape variety. In fact, the region took its name from this grape, which, until 2009, was called Prosecco.

However, as the producers of Prosecco-based sparkling wine in north-east Italy realised that a grape variety couldn’t be geographically delimited and protected, they registered the word Prosecco as a region, or DOC (which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata).

So, eight years ago, the region of production became registered in the EU as ‘Prosecco DOC’, and the grape variety used to make the fizz was named Glera – a somewhat ugly word, which, it is believed, was deliberately chosen to discourage producers outside the region from using the grape to make sparkling wine.

In short, anyone who grows the grape formerly known as Prosecco outside the DOC cannot use the word Prosecco on the label – that is, if they want to sell the product in the EU (and hence, you will find sparkling wines labelled Prosecco produced and sold in, for example, Australia – where the Glera/Prosecco grape has been grown for many years).

Significantly, Glera produces wines with a floral-fruity character, most commonly aromas of apple and pear, and sometimes acacia blossom too. When really ripe, Glera also yields flavours of peach and melon.

It should be noted that other grape varieties are allowed in Prosecco, such as Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, along with local grapes Bianchetta, Perera and Verdiso, but, by law, all Prosecco must be made with a minimum of 85% Glera.

The final critical aspect to the character of Prosecco is the production method.

Although different approaches are employed, the vast majority of Prosecco is made using the tank or Charmat method, also known as the Italian method, which sees the product achieve its fizz through a second fermentation in a large stainless steel vat, before it is bottled under pressure. This is in contrast to Champagne, which gains its sparkle within the bottle it is sold in.

The method of Prosecco production generally yields an aromatic type of sparkling wine, with a fruity flavour, a slight sweetness, and a pleasing but, in the main, rather simple character. It is also a sparkling wine that is designed to be drunk when it’s still young – very few Proseccos will benefit from cellaring.

However, for more information on the styles of Prosecco, which are connected to the production method, particularly the amount of residual sugar left in the fizz, as well as the exact source area of the grapes, see the following pages.

Quiet July for fine wine

4th August, 2017

July was a reasonably quiet month for fine wine with the Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 running flat and the broader Fine Wine 1000 rising a scanty 0.9%.

The Fine Wine 100, which tracks the 100 most widely traded labels on the Exchange, ran flat with just a 0.04% ‘rise’ over July’s trading. Nonetheless, the index is now almost at its highest point since October 2011.

Burgundy labels dominated the best-performing labels last month, well and truly in line with Liv-ex’s earlier report that the French region (and others) was building a greater share of trade at Bordeaux’s expense.

Ponsot’s 2012 Clos de la Roche Vieilles Vignes was up 11.6% to a mid price of £4,338 and Armand Rousseau’s 2012 Chambertin and Comte de Vogüé’s 2014 Musigny Vieilles Vignes were the other Côte d’Or labels on the up as were Masseto’s 2013 vintage and Haut-Brion’s 2005 which reversed its June losses.

Going down meanwhile were a number of wines with 100-point scores from Robert Parker including Smith Haut-Lafitte’s 2009 and Haut-Brion’s 2010. Angélus’s 2009 and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s 2012 Richebourg saw respective declines of 5% and 3.9%, while Léoville Poyferré’s 2009 was the month’s biggest ‘loser’ – down 7.7%.

The broader Fine Wine 1000 meanwhile saw a touch more growth, not much, but enough to mean the index is now up 15.9% year-on-year.

In contrast to Bordeaux’s decline elsewhere, it was in fact the Bordeaux Legends 50 sub-index which led the way in July, gaining 2%.

Other strong performances came from the Italy 100 (up 1.5%) and Champagne 50 (up 1%), recovering from some June declines. The Italy 100 is actually the mot improved index in 2017, up 7.7% on the year to date.

The Rest of the World 50 ran flat and the Rhône 100, after a positive start to the year, fell a little (0.5%).

 

Index changes: Liv-ex also announced some minor changes to both indices to better reflect the market.

The 2004 vintage has been removed from the Bordeaux 500 index to make way for the now physical 2014s and 17 wines have been removed from the Fine Wine 100 and replaced with 17 wines that are either more recent vintages of the same wine or are wines seeing a greater cut of trading activity.

The list of wines that have been taken out and which have replaced them can be see here.

New BrewDog bar to straddle US Mexico border

4th August, 2017

Ever controversial, BrewDog is planning to open a craft beer bar on the USA/Mexico border, making a physical statement about its values of “collaboration and inclusivity”, alluding to US President Donald Trump’s plans to build a 1,000 mile wall between the two countries.

Named ‘The Bar on the Edge’, the exact location of the remote bar remains a secret, but will aim to reflect the Scottish brewer’s ambition to expand to the “farthest reaches”.

All BrewDog has said is that half of the bar will be in Texas and the other half in Chihuahua, Mexico, and that it will be built out of old shipping containers. 

The geographical border will be represented by a dotted line across the centre of the bar and along the venue’s outdoor seating area, with US beers served on the Mexico side and Mexican beers on the US side, as well as BrewDog’s range of craft beers, brewed in Columbus Ohio.

“Beer has always been a unifying factor between cultures – and our business was born from collaboration and an inclusive approach – so we thought it would be fun to place the bar a few feet further to actually cross the US-Mexico border too,” said James Watt, co-founder at BrewDog.

“We will request official permission from the local authorities to put it there and adhere to any red tape stuff, but I guess it would make it more difficult to build a wall if there’s a BrewDog bar in the way. We’re planning on putting the bar there anyway until someone tells us to move it.”

Although the bar will be nowhere near any regular footfall, BrewDog hopes it will become a “magnetic pole” for craft beer fans on both sides of the border to come together.

The announcement will be celebrated with a Tex-Mex craft beer event at the brewery’s DogTap taproom in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, with beers from Texan breweries Alamo Beer Company, Brash Brewing, No Label Brewing, 512 Brewing, Copperhead Brewing and Buffalo Bayou set to feature alongside craft beer cocktails with Mexican mezcal and Tequila.

‘Solid growth’ for Campari as streamlining continues

4th August, 2017

Gruppo Campari has reported “solid growth” in its first half 2017 results in a year that has seen major streamlining for the group.

Campari announced sales of €844.7 million, representing growth of 13.5% and organic growth of 6.5%.

The Americas in particular posted a positive growth of 26.1% with organic growth of 7.6%. Overall, the US is the group’s largest market, and accounts for 27.6% of overall sales. Sales were driven by Wild Turkey, Aperol and Campari it was reported.

Sales in Jamaica (10.7% organic growth), Brazil (29%), Argentina (3.1%) Canada (8.1%) and Mexico have also all been strong markets so far this year.

Sales in southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa were largely flat and there was a slight uptick in the Italian market “thanks to a recovery in the second quarter”, with the Aperol brand continuing to see double digit growth (10.9%).

The performance of the north, central and eastern European markets was good, increasing by 12.6% thanks to the achievements, once again, of the group’s core brands.

Asia-Pacific grew 11% overall, although the weakness of Wild Turkey in Australia contributed to a 2.7% decline in the country. Sales in China and Japan were good, the latter recovering from a poor 2016 somewhat with good sales for Wild Turkey, Campari and Skyy vodka, while in China there was positive growth for Camus, Skyy and GlenGrant, “albeit off a small base.”

CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz, commented: “We delivered very good results in the first half of 2017, delivering sustained growth, both in organic and reported terms, across all performance indicators. The solid organic growth was achieved after an acceleration in the second quarter of both sales and profitability.”

“The sustained gross margin expansion, which benefitted from the continuous improvement of our sales mix by brand and region and also from a gradual recovery in the sugar business, helped contain the adverse phasing of A&P investments, skewed into the first half of this year.”

“Looking into the second half of the year, our outlook remains fairly balanced and unchanged. Macroeconomic environments in some emerging markets remain uncertain whilst the political uncertainty persisting in some regions might continue fuelling the volatility of major currencies against the Euro. Moreover, we believe that the progressive strengthening of the euro against the US dollar may have a more adverse impact in the second half of the year. Nevertheless, we remain confident in achieving a positive performance across key indicators for the year, driven by the outperformance of the high-margin global and regional priorities”.

The group has been on something of a divestment binge of late, selling off the greater part of its wine business assets and, most recently, two Irish cream liqueur brands.

In its half year report Campari also announced it has sold off the Grand Marnier headquarters building in Paris for €35.3 million.

“The Group’s operating margin will benefit in the second half of the year from the gradual normalisation of A&P investments and structure costs, the latter also benefitting from the expected efficiencies generated by the Grand Marnier integration.”

“The perimeter effect will reflect our exit from some non-core businesses, particularly the recently announced Carolans and Irish Mist disposal, which will result in an increased focus on the premium high-margin brands in core markets. Such disposals which, combined with the sale of some real estate assets, amounted to a total of approx. €228 million year to date, will contribute to a further acceleration in the reduction of our financial indebtedness, alongside the continuous healthy cash flow generated by our business,” added Kunze-Concewitz.

Start-up sets out to bring Sherry ‘out of grandma’s cupboard’

4th August, 2017

A start-up wine company has set out to give the beleaguered Sherry category a “total reinvention”, believing its future lies in successfully re-positioning it as a refreshing apéritif rather than “granny’s favourite tipple”.

XECO’s fino Sherry has been launched with the aim of “reinvigorating” the Sherry category

XECO Wines was founded by a trio of “fino fiends” – Beanie, Alexa and Polly – out of their mutual love of Sherry and an ambition to “bring Sherry out of grandma’s cupboard and into wine bars and onto cocktail menus across the UK”.

The first XECO Wines release will be a dry fino Sherry, made from Palomino grapes in Jerez, and aged biologically in American oak casks for a minimum of four years at Diez Merito, a Bodega established in 1876.

The pale golden wine is described as “light and fresh on the palate, with dainty savoury ‘Umami’ aromas and a hint of salinity”.

The brand is working with a number of bartenders to develop a selection of classic and quirky Sherry-based cocktails. Its “disruptive packaging” features historic characters from England and Spain – including Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Shakespeare and Cervantes – and neon graffiti art, which the aim of setting it apart from the traditional “old-world” labelling of many Sherries on the market.

XECO Fino will be available to purchase from Master of Malt from August with an RRP of between £15.99-£16.99, with an Amontillado set to become available in Autumn 2017.

MOVING ON UP?

Its release follows the launch of a new pre-mixed, Sherry-based sparkler by Gonzalez ByassCroft Twist, based on the Andalusian ‘rebujito’ cocktail and made with from Fino Sherry, lemonade and ice with a garnish of mint.

Also adding to a ripple of renewed interest in the Sherry category in the UK is Waitrose, which earlier this year revamped its Sherry range, redesigning its top-tier own label Sherries to bring more on-shelf appeal.

The new look bottles, which will go on promotion from 17 May, have abandoned the colour-coordinated, coherent look across the range to embrace more individual styles and emulate the older style of premium Sherry to create a more up-market look.

Sapporo acquires Anchor Brewing for $85m

4th August, 2017

Japanese brewing giant, Sapporo, has announced it has bought one of California’s leading craft brewers, the Anchor Brewing Company, for US$85 million.

The deal between Japan’s oldest brewer and the venerable San Francisco-based company that makes Anchor Steam was announced yesterday (Thursday 4 August) and marks the latest acquisition of the first wave of ‘craft’ breweries by a macrobrewer.

The deal will be completed by the end of the month and there are no plans to move the brewer from its current site in San Francisco.

“Sapporo shares our values and appreciates our unique, time-honoured approach tobrewing,” remarked Keith Greggor, Anchor Brewing’s co-owner.

“With both a long-term vision and resources to realise it, Sapporo will keep brewing Anchor’s beers in San Francisco while expanding to new markets worldwide.”

One of Anchor Brewing’s major shareholders is British fine wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd.

CEO Dan Jago said in a statement: “As a shareholder of Anchor Brewing Company, Berry Bros. & Rudd can confirm its agreement to sell the brewing business to Sapporo Holdings Ltd, Japan’s oldest beer brand.”

He added further that the sale only included the brewing arm of Anchor and that its distilling business had been separated from its parent body in the sale and is now an independent company in its own right.

“Anchor Distilling Company, which formed part of Anchor Brewers & Distillers, has been made an independent company and Berry Bros & Rudd continues as a significant shareholder of the business,” Jago explained.

Anchor Brewing is just the latest craft brewer to be snapped up by a bigger competitor, other recent big purchases being Heineken’s acquisition of fellow California brand Lagunitas and AB InBev’s purchase of Goose Island.

It is also the second high profile move by a big Japanese brewer in recent years with Asahi having acquired Peroni, Grolsch, Meantime and Pilsner Urquell in a multi-billion euro deal late last year after the brands were sold off by AB InBev following its takeover of SAB Miller.

As reported this week by the drinks business, a Goldman Sachs report pointed to the slowing growth of the US craft beer scene.

Business Insider, picking up on the same thread, postulated that Sapporo was therefore able to pick up Anchor Brewing “on the cheap”, having bought the brand for 2.6 times its revenue whereas Constellation paid 8.7 times the revenue for the less well-known (internationally at least) Ballast Point in 2015 when the craft beer market was booming.

Founded in 1896, Anchor Brewing is one of the oldest breweries in the US and one of its craft ‘originals’. Last year it sold a reported 1.75 million cases and generated revenue of US$33m.

Unfiltered: Clement Robert MS, 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen

4th August, 2017

Group head sommelier and wine buyer at 28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen, Clement Robert MS, was crowned International Young Sommelier of the year in 2010 and UK Sommelier of the Year in 2013. Former sommelier of Medlar restaurant in Chelsea, Robert has also worked for the Hotel du Vin group and under Eric Zwiebel at Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorset.

Clement Robert MS

What’s your vintage?
1986

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
Wine would be a glass of Champagne or a glass of fino Sherry. Non-wine would be a gin and tonic with a lot of ice and a dash of angostura bitters.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?
Ouch. There have been a few, but most recently, I was describing a wine and talking about the region from where the wine was from, only to realise mid-conversation that the guest was drinking a completely different wine to the one I was describing.

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?
Don’t forget to enjoy the experience while learning about wine and sample everything you can as you go along as it is vitally important to train your palate.

Has a wine ever given you an epiphany? Which one?
Probably Chateau Lafleur 1982, during my time at Hotel du Vin in Cambridge. One of our regular guests invited me to his house and he opened some bottles from his 1982 Bordeaux private collection (Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and La Mission Haut Brion were among the line-up). The expectation was huge and the wine simply over-exceeded anything I could imagine. Incredible wines, an incredible moment.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?
Asking for ice to go in their white wine.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?
Gerard Basset. He always shows modesty and humility while being one of the most well-known and successful oenophiles of his generation, having inspired and trained a host of sommeliers himself in this country over the years.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?
Duck with black olive sauce, rosemary and sage, paired with Syrah from the northern Rhône.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
In the Langhe Hill, Piedmont, Italy. I love Nebbiolo, I love the beauty of the landscape there. The dynamic of the region, both in terms of winemaking and gastronomy, is extraordinary.

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
In a fantasy world, doing something related to professional football. In reality, a job that combines history and nature. I am not sure what precisely I would be doing as I wanted to be a sommelier from the age of 16.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
Pinotage from South Africa.

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?
Ridley Scott. He produced some of my favourite movies, a true gentleman and a Bordeaux wine connoisseur.

米其林将于澳门发布首届街头美食节

4th August, 2017

米其林美食指南日前公布计划,将于澳门新濠影汇举办首届“澳门食街游”街头美食节。届时来自亚洲各地的米其林星级餐厅、超值餐厅(Bib Gourmand)以及米其林推荐餐厅将会云集一堂,向公众呈现各自的招牌佳肴以及街头美食。

此次首届米其林街头美食节将于10月5日至10月8日举办,历时4日,来自新加坡、日本等亚洲各国的星级餐厅将纷纷参与,包括史上第一个获得米其林一星的街边摊小吃,来自新加坡的“香港油鸡饭面”。

这一街边摊摊主兼米其林一星名厨陈翰铭届时将和同行琼荣记的大厨刘建伟一起专程飞来澳门为大家掌勺,烹饪其拿手好菜以及融合海南菜和马来西亚家常煮炒(Zi Char)风味的佳肴。

另外前来新濠献技的名厨还包括米其林一星餐厅“印度之歌”(Song of India)的大厨Manjunath Mural以及在最新出炉的《米其林新加坡指南》中荣获米其林一星的“迷宫”(Labyrinth)餐厅大厨Han Liguang。

史上首家以及唯一一家荣获米其林星级评定的娘惹菜餐厅Candlenut的新加坡大厨Malcolm Lee也将到场,同时来自日本、荣获米其林美食推介的章鱼烧名店“甲贺流本店”(Kougaryu Honten)的大师傅田中由弘(Yoshihiro Tanaka)亦将光临美食节,为公众炮制三款不同口味的章鱼烧,一展绝技。

新濠影汇自家的三家招牌餐厅:米其林一星粤菜食府“玥龙轩”,米其林推介上海菜餐厅“上海魅影”,以及汇聚大江南北地道风味的米其林推介食府“碧迎居”,亦将代表澳门为美食节设计多款限定小吃,为食客制造惊喜。

对此,帕克的《葡萄酒倡导家》杂志发言人Patrick Sauze评论说,“亚洲被普遍认为具有全世界最好吃的街头美食,我们对能邀请到这些极具才能的大厨及其团队初临澳门,在美食节上同场献技感到极为激动。”

“美食爱好者以及亲朋好友将能借此机会发掘新的心头最爱,完全融入美食节的欢乐气氛中,品尝各种熟悉和陌生的美味佳肴。此次首届澳门米其林街头美食节将成为一次真正非同凡响的美食体验,所有美食爱好者都应该现在就将这一日期放进自己的日程表里。”

此次美食节入场免费,将于10月5日至10月8日每天从中午12点到夜晚8点于新濠影汇复古的澳门食街游举行。

翻译:肖斐远