Unfiltered: Terry Kandylis, 67 Pall Mall

17th December, 2018

Kandylis was studying physics in the University of Athens and working for some of the best restaurants in Greece when the wine bug bit. After completing the first three levels of his WSET qualifications in Greece, he moved to the UK, where he landed a position at Heston Blumenthal’s revered gastro molecular pub The Fat Duck in Bray. Having completed his WSET Diplima, he went on to take up the position of assistant head sommelier at The Ledbury, after which he joined private members’ club 67 Pall Mall, where he is today head sommelier, working under the leadership of Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn. An accomplished sommelier, Kandylis earned the title of Best Sommelier in Greece in 2015 and represented the country in the European Final in Vienna in 2017, where he managed to go through to the semi-finals. In 2016, Kandylis was crowned the 2016 UK Sommelier of the Year, has passed the advanced level of the Court of Master Sommeliers exam and is currently preparing for his MS Diploma exams.

What or who inspired you to become a sommelier?

My first inspiration was my cousin, who influenced my first steps and opened the gates for me to discover what is hidden in the wonderful world of wine. Then, I was lucky enough to work with some of the most respected wine professionals like Ronan Sayburn and Isa Bal, who taught me how to think and how to approach things. I learned a lot and and keep on learning from them.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

What brought me to this profession is that I always wanted to meet people form different cultures and backgrounds. Engaging with guests is always fascinating. Another unique moment is meeting the winemakers. Wine is all about the stories that can make our guests dream and travel, with the wine we suggest enhancing their experience. Sommeliers are storytellers.

What’s the biggest misconception about the role of a sommelier?

Many people have the image that a sommelier is in the restaurant only to suggest wine to match with people’s food choices. The modern role is much more beyond that.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?

Depends on how long the day was! A good glass of red on most occasions, but nothing can beat a beer after a tough one.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?

In the beginning of my career when I tried to open a bottle of sparkling without being taught how to open it. Also the bottle wasn’t really cold. You have the picture…

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?

Be prepared for many hours of hard work, patience and lots of study, and if you are persistent and focused on your target, you will be rewarded.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

The bottle that made me believe that wine can trigger amazing emotions, act as a time capsule and spark the most wonderful of conversations was a 1983 Cos d’Estournel. It happened to be the first fine wine of my life and when it is as old as you are it is very memorable.

What to date has been your most memorable wine experience?

I had the chance to meet Paul Pontallier back in time and Corinne Mentzelopoulos more recently, from Château Margaux. To be able to host a dinner on the wines he was responsible for with his son was truly memorable. So the dinner we organised with Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos and Thibault Pontallier for the first year anniversary of the 67 Pall Mall is something that I will never forget.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

Smoking in restaurants and bars. I know that sounds a horrible habit of the past, but trust me the law still does not apply to every country in Europe…

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

When it comes to wine, Gerard Basset. His ethos, humble approach and character is what I call ‘to lead by example’. As for a chef, I think Brett Graham. I was fortunate enough to work with him and gain amazing experience on the subject to taste together with the chef and find pairings.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Simplicity is what matters to me in food and wine pairings. It’s hard to decide between Comte and Vin Jaune or sardines and Sherry, because I LOVE both.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

Burgundy or Santorini.

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing and why?

A farmer. Every time that I meet vignerons I get more inspired by them. Their approach to life and what matters most, the way they are connected to nature, reminds me of my grandparents and connects me to my past.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

Sorry, my dear Gareth Ferreira. Pinotage.

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served and why?

Brad Pitt. He didn’t care about people looking at him and enjoyed every bit of his meal. He had fun and was cracking jokes with the staff that were as nervous as the guests around him.

What makes you most proud to be a sommelier in London?

It’s a community that makes you proud to be a part of. An amazing mix of professionals from around the world that strive for perfection and are constantly thirsty for knowledge and excellence.

What’s on your wine bucket list?

Lots of Rieslings, Assyrtiko, Chenin, Cabernet Franc and Gamay.

LVMH acquires Belmond hotel group

17th December, 2018

Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy is going to acquire the luxury hotel group Belmond and the Orient Express service for US$3 billion.

As well as hotels in Rio di Janeiro and Venice, LVMH will acquire the group’s luxury cruise and train services as well.

Belmond operates 46 properties around the world including Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire and will open its first London hotel in Chelsea next year.

In addition to hotels, Belmond has various assets in luxury travel, most notably the famous Venice Simplon ‘Orient Express’.

Although LVMH has some assets in the hotel business this is a major boost to that part of its portfolio and provides an ideal distribution outlet for its wine and spirits brands.

LVMH, CEO Bernard Arnault said: “Belmond delivers unique experiences to discerning travellers and owns a number of exceptional assets in the most desirable destinations.

“Its heritage, its innovative services, its excellence in execution and its entrepreneurship resonates well with the values of the group and is complementary to our own Cheval Blanc maisons and the Bvlgari hotels activities.

“This acquisition will significantly increase LVMH’s presence in the ultimate hospitality world.”

The transaction is expected to be complete in the first half of 2019 following shareholder and competition authority approval.

Bottle of Penfolds Grange 1951 sells for record $80k

17th December, 2018

A rare bottle of 1951 Penfolds Grange has sold for a record AU$80,386 (£45,758) at auction, smashing the previous record of $78,000 (£44,400) set earlier this year.

A full set of Grange from 1951 to 2013 also fetched almost $350,000 at Langton’s online auction, which closed on Sunday night. Last year, a full set of Penfolds Grange sold for a record $260,360 to an Adelaide couple.

“This auction had something for everybody, from potential bargains to rare vintages to a selection of unique bottles like the pristine 1951 Penfolds Grange,”  said Langton’s general manager, Jeremy Parham.

The 1951 Grange vintage is particularly sought after due to original Penfolds chief winemaker Max Schubert, and the timing of its ‘release’.

The 1951 was first ever vintage of Penfolds Grange Hermitage. However at that time, Schubert was not selling his wine commercially. Instead chose to pass on the vintage to family and friends. It was only later that Penfolds became a force to be reckoned with on the fine wine market.

Consequently, there were very few of the 1951 vintage in circulation. They are believed to be less than 20 bottles of the vintage left across the world.

Most recently, Penfolds announced the launch of its ‘2018 Collection’, which features the 2014 Grange and 2016 Bin 707.

The latest Grange, Australia’s most famous and one of its most collectible fine wine labels, is the 64th consecutive release and includes grapes from a brand new source.

In total the collection covers five vintages, seven varieties and 15 regions.

The latest slew of releases naturally includes the Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 Magill Estate Shiraz, 2015 St Henri, 2016 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon and Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz among others.

The white wines in the collection are also growing in stature. The 2016 vintage of Penfolds’ top Chardonnay ‘Yattarna’ is now out, so too the 2017 vintage of the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay.

The best wines from the Chardonnay Masters 2018

14th December, 2018

Creamy wines with stone fruit and lemon-fresh acidity were the top-scorers in 2018’s Chardonnay Masters competition, but, before revealing the results in full, Patrick Schmitt MW looks at the stylistic trends of the Chardonnay being made today.

Jonathan Pedley MW and Ana Sapungiu MW judge the wines in 2018’s Chardonnay Masters

As 2018 draws to a close and I think back over all the tastings we’ve conducted this year, I do feel that our Chardonnay Masters was the most mixed in terms of quality and style. Now, while diversity is definitely something to celebrate, I sense that Chardonnay has yet to settle into a comfortable place – they are plenty extremes in terms of texture and flavour, but seemingly few where a happy medium has been struck. As a result, I think that many winemakers should consider why consumers fell in love with this grape variety in the first place.

So what was it that made Chardonnay the most popular grape before the start of this millennium? It was its seductive, textural appeal, its combination of stone fruit flavours and lemon fresh acidity, and its unparalleled ability to successfully carry the appealing characters from certain cellar practices – so those creamy notes from malo-lactic fermentations, that nutty richness from lees contact, and the toastiness from oak, as well as a touch of vanilla if there’s new wood too. These are aspects that, when combined, create a delicious and mouth-filling glass of white wine. Something with instant appeal, and versatility.

Now, as is so often the case with success stories, the situation can turn sour when people take things too far. As we know, this happened with Chardonnay. Looking back, I suppose there was a sense that if people liked the characters described above in moderation, they would enjoy them even more if they were amplified. The problem was that the delicious nature of good Chardonnay came about when such aspects where in harmony, and increasing the influence of lees and oak, without also turning up the concentration of the fruit, left the drinker with a hollow experience.

But let’s move forward. Between the development described above, and now, we have seen a pendulum swing in Chardonnay style, with the over-oaked, buttery example replaced by the so-called ‘skinny’ version, created by picking earlier, preventing the occurrence of malo-lactic fermentations, and eschewing fermentation and ageing in barriques, particular new ones.

As part of this, we have also seen the development of another aspect to Chardonnay style – the manipulation of fermentations to create Hydrogen sulphide, the source of a whiff of struck match at low levels, but the smell of blocked drains at greater concentrations. When present in small quantities, it does add an attractive and complexing note to Chardonnay, and something needed if the winemaker chooses not to add an extra aromatic touch of toastiness from the use of new oak.

But the problem with sulphides, even when complementary, comes from the fact they don’t add any textural weight to the wine. And that’s what the judges in this year’s Chardonnay Masters missed the most. Yes there were examples with plenty of character, but at the more pricy end, we expected wines with more depth, more richness. And it is this indulgent aspect to great Chardonnay that makes it the most celebrated source of fine white wine in the world.

As one judge, Keith Isaac MW commented after the tasting, which saw us sample wines from around the world, “I like Chardonnay! And still do, for the most part, but not too lean and stripped back, or I can buy Muscadet instead.”

Such a statement highlights the main issue for skinny Chardonnay, and that is simply that if you want a delicate style of white, there are other grapes you will turn to. People generally choose Chardonnay when they want something refreshing but also full-bodied.

Of course, there is a spectrum of styles, perhaps best illustrated by the success of Chablis, a benchmark for ‘unoaked’ Chardonnay, but in this case, I think you will find that people are choosing Chablis, and the specific wine style this region epitomises, more than they are choosing Chardonnay – a grape that represents a more textured style of white.

Currently, however, a further judge, Jonathan Pedley MW, observed after this year’s competition that “The ‘austere, lean, struck match’ school of Chardonnay has definitively (for the time being) triumphed over the ‘ripe, tropical, oaky’ school.” As a result, he commented, “If ever you needed evidence that the world’s wine industry has become a global, fashion led village then this is it.”

While, looking deeper into what he termed “the cult of the struck match”, he recounted some advantages and disadvantages to the style.

What’s good, he said, is the fact that because so many winemakers are vinifying Chardonnay this way “they are getting better at it”, and consequently, “this year’s line up had fewer excessively reduced wines and only the odd one where the acidity was impossibly raw.”

On the other hand, he recorded some “bad news”, which he said related to the fact that “the consumer is being expected to pay big money (£30++) for premium Chardonnays that are often one dimensional, hard and angular.”

Continuing, he said, “The very nature of the struck match style is that it avoids/suppresses the other elements of the traditional Chardonnay wines: ripe fruit, oak and malolactic aromas.”

And, he concluded, “Deep down I am not convinced that the resulting lack of complexity in many of these new wave Chardonnays represents value for money.”

But, such a general report on the state of Chardonnay today shouldn’t conceal the fact that there are plenty of stunning, balanced, and delicious examples being made right now, and identified in our unique tasting approach – which sees us taste wines from all parts of the world without any sense of where they hail from.

And, this year’s competition saw the highest marks go to Chardonnays from a range of sources, as long as they “showed the wonderful layers of complexity of which Chardonnay is capable,” according to Pedley.

The results over the following pages show the medal-winners, and you can see those wines that achieved very high scores by the colour of their accolade, with, it should be stressed, Golds awarded to Chardonnays gaining an average score of 93 points and above from the judges. As for the ultimate accolade, that of Master, this only goes to something considered outstanding in its category, and generally getting 96 points or above from more than a couple of the judges.

As a final point, it is worth commenting on the origin of the great wines, particularly because certain regions shone. One of these was certainly Adelaide Hills in Australia – the source of more great Chardonnays in this year’s tasting than any other single place, but, considering the same nation, Hunter Valley also showed well.

Another notable stand-out area was Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, but also Marlborough. Parts of California as one might expect delivered great results, while South Africa also proved adept at crafting lovely Chardonnay. A final surprise was a wonderful and reasonably priced sample from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley – which in fact turned out to the best Chardonnay of its category.

The judges (left to right): Matthieu Longuère MS; Patricia Stefanowicz MW; Patrick Schmitt MW, Ana Sapungiu MW; Jonathan Pedley MW; Annette Scarfe MW; Keith Isaac MW

Diageo is building a new $130m distillery in Kentucky

14th December, 2018

Drinks giant Diageo is planning to build a new distillery in Kentucky as demand for American whiskeys ramps up worldwide.

The rye variation of Diageo’s Bulleit Bourbon has tapped into the growth of the category (Photo: Diageo)

The project, which will cost an estimated $130 million (£106 million) to complete, includes a new distillery and warehouse based on a 144-acre site in Lebanon,Kentucky, USA, and is set to be up and running by 2021.

The distillery will have the capacity to produce 3.8 million 9lr cases per year, and will be used to distill Diageo’s current bourbon brands, as well as ranges the drinks giant will launch in the future. It supplements the company’s American whiskey production that currently takes place at its still houses in Louisville and Shelbyville.

The plans come as both sales and production of American and Irish whiskeys have started to pick up pace. Americans bought $2.08 billion (£1.7 billion) worth of whiskey last year, according to data from Nielsen; up 4.6% since 2016. Its market share has also grown by 0.43% to make up almost 35% of spirits bought in the US.

“Bourbon and American whiskey are vibrant and growing categories, Barry Becton, senior executive in Diageo’s North American business, told the Daily Journal, “and we are excited to expand Diageo’s footprint in Kentucky to support our ambitions in this space.”

Diageo’s bourbon whiskey brand Bulleit experienced double-digit growth in the US in the past year, the company said. The new Kentucky distillery will also employ 30 people in the local area.

Kentucky Governor, Matt Bevin, said: “We are proud to further our relationship with Diageo, and of the job growth associated with these announcements.”

Though it owns a handful of American whiskey labels, Diageo is better known for Scotch, with its portfolio including brands like Johnnie Walker, Royal Lochnagar, Haig Club and Bell’s whiskies.

Watch: Ryan Reynolds puts silent meditation, cage-free botanicals and tears into gin

14th December, 2018

Actor and owner of Aviation Gin, Ryan Reynolds, has tried his hand at a marketing video, talking viewers through the gin’s production process, which includes four hours of silent mediation, an ordination by the Unitarian Church and citrus fruits misted with his tears.

In a video released yesterday, the Canadian-born actor narrated a ‘marketing’ video for his gin brand Aviation.

In the video he stated: “I take my responsibilities as owner of Aviation Gin seriously. This does not extend to our marketing, however, which I take as un-seriously as humanly possible”.

According to Reynolds, the ‘process’ begins each morning at 4am with the distilling team engaging in four hours of silent meditation.

He then reveals that the oranges used in the gin “are misted using only the tears of Aviation’s owner, me, Ryan Reynolds”.

Appealing to those concerned about botanical welfare, he confirms that all ingredients used are “humanely caught, cage-free and grain-fed”. Every bottle, apparently, is also ordained by the Unitarian Church of Fresno, California and serenaded by the music of Sarah McLachlan.

Reynolds bought a “significant” stake in Aviation Gin in February this year and has appeared on programmes including Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in his role as brand owner and creative director.

In September, Reynolds and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson announced a partnership that will see Aviation Gin served on Virgin Atlantic flights.

While Reynolds’ video was not based on truth, an English cathedral has recently released a gin, ingredients such as organic turkey breast have been used by gin producers, and distilleries in the US are using reggae, hip-hop and blues to create “musically matured” whiskies, Bourbons and rums. 

Fine wine investment: Looking for opportunities

14th December, 2018

Further to last week’s note which focused on wines whose prices have come under what seems to be undue pressure during the recent index downturn, we now extend the study to underperformers year-to-date.

We would stress of course that any date you place on a performance table is totally arbitrary; there is actually no more logic to judging from 1 January 2018 than any other point in time, except that it is human nature to think around fixed time frames. The natural starting point is the date of investment but obviously these differ investor to investor.

There is no need to alter the process we adopted last week: wines which are down in price AND show up well on the algorithm. We are attracted to wines the market has it in for, but only if the selling throws up clear mis-pricing. Masseto 2002 may be down 10% this year but it is still poor relative value at £5,000. By contrast the 2010 is excellent value at £5,840, but to appreciate why you have to understand the key determinants against which fine wines are priced, and that is where the algorithm comes in.

You could actually create a well-diversified portfolio based on the criteria currently in review. First growth exposure would be Lafite 2009 at the ‘on vintage’ end, and Haut-Brion 2012 at the ‘off’. The Liv-ex 1000 is up 8.4% year to date, while Lafite 2009 is down 3.4% and Haut-Brion 2012 down 1.5%.

On the Right Bank the best options are Angelus 2009 (down 5% ytd) and Ausone 2012 as mentioned last week (also down 5%), but you could also select Cheval Blanc 2014 as your ‘off vintage’ wine as it is down 4%. In Pomerol L’Evangile 2008 is down 16% statistically, but that masks a spike in the price at the end of last year against which it seems very cheap. It is the top algorithmic scorer nonetheless, but if you prefer to remain faithful to the process you might prefer Lafleur 2011 which is genuinely down 3.2%.

There are quite a few bargains around in the 2014 vintage so that is where we would go for a ‘Super Second’. La Mission Haut-Brion is down most at -3.5%, while Palmer 2009 (down 2%) would be the on vintage choice in that sector. On the Italian front we recommend Masseto 2008 (down 3.3%), in Napa it would be Opus One 2012 (down 3.5%), and paradoxically we would turn to the New World for the oldest wine in this portfolio by buying Penfolds Grange 1998, down a juicy 11%.

Just to linger over the Grange 1998 for a moment, in his tasting notes Robert Parker called it, “a wine that flirts with perfection, and should rival the 1986 as one of the legendary Granges produced”, giving it a score of 98+. Grange is a tricky investment because it trades relatively seldom; when it does it can generate a very tidy profit, but only if you buy at the right price. This wine trades at under £4,000 per case, and we believe it worth the risk.

Moving on to the wider sphere, it is clear that equity markets are in a state of flux at present. This makes it fashionable for commentators to remind everyone that physical assets tend to do well at times of investment crisis, and as always it is possible to make your arguments match your desired conclusion.

It would be very easy for us to bang the fine wine investment drum at times like this. Here is the year-to-date chart performance of the Liv-ex 1000 against the FTSE and the S&P:

The argument would be: “rest easy, invest in fine wine.”

This is nonsense, of course. An investment in fine wine is never going to be an alternative to anything mainstream. An investment in fine wine, should you choose to make it, should be seen as an adjunct to a diversified investment portfolio which would certainly incorporate stocks and bonds, and which might include gold.

We actually believe it is quite irresponsible to charge about saying things like: global stockmarkets are in turmoil, so you should invest in wine. The reason you should invest in wine is absolutely nothing to do with what is happening elsewhere.

Just to be clear: most people find it easier to leave the greater part of their investment portfolio to professionals. They are called pension fund managers. Beyond that, meaningful amounts are managed by other equally experienced practitioners. Fine wine investment is the purlieu of individuals who have caught on to the unique investment dynamic and are either trying to make sense of a passion or interest, or who recognise the opportunity to fund their drinking habit inexpensively.

The best thing to happen to the fine wine market at present is not so much global turmoil which for all anyone knows could be over in three months, but the currency. At these levels sterling has had a lot thrown at it over the last few months and is indeed close to 10-year lows against the US$ and the Euro. Again, if many people were to be believed, this should have resulted in the fine wine market being much stronger than it is. That it is not is just another example of market misbehaviour, but market misbehaviour creates opportunity.

You should be investing in fine wine now because it is still improving over time as it ages in the glass, decreasing in availability as it does so. And because it is cheap in Sterling terms. Global market instability, believe it or not, is a sideshow.

Philip Staveley is head of research at Amphora Portfolio Management. After a career in the City running emerging markets businesses for such investment banks as Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank he now heads up the fine wine investment research proposition with Amphora.

Four reasons why UK consumers are drinking less wine

14th December, 2018

A report by industry insight service Wine Intelligence has identified four reasons why UK consumers are drinking less wine, after it revealed that the number of regular wine drinkers has fallen by around one million since 2015.

In its UK Landscapes 2018 report, Wine Intelligence found that the number of people that drink wine at least once a month has fallen by one million in just three years, from 29.5 million in 2015 to 28.5 million in 2018. In 2015, 80% of those 29.5 million people were consuming wine at least once a week, in 2018 this had fallen to 22 million people or 78% of the smaller monthly drinker total (28.5 million).

It referred to 2018 as “another challenging year” for the wine industry in the UK, with volume sales of still wines continuing to fall and price increases hitting the sector. The data analyst referred to the exclusion of wine from the duty freeze given to spirits and beer in the Budget in October as “a hammer blow to the sector”.

Nevertheless, the UK remains the sixth largest market for still light wines in terms of volume sales. Wine Intelligence found evidence to support the trend for drinking less but better, citing an “adventurous attitude and strong interest in wine” as driving factors. Younger drinkers in the 25-54 years age bracket particularly epitomise this trend, the report found, despite noting that the wine drinking population was “ageing”.

According to its 2018 report, more women than men were regular wine drinkers, however the gender divide was fairly evenly split at 51% to 49%. The 65 years and older age group were the biggest regular wine drinkers, with 27% of those surveyed consuming wine at least once a month. This was followed by the 35-44 year bracket and the 45-54 year bracket, each having 17% of regular drinkers.

Of the regions surveyed, it was the south east and east of England that came out on top, with 23% of the UK’s regular wine drinkers. The north placed second with 21%, the midlands in third with 17% and London fourth with 13%. The south west and Scotland both had 9%, Wales had 5% and Northern Ireland had 3%.

The data in the report was gathered in the UK in July 2015, July 2017 and July 2018 in the form of an online survey.

Click through to view the four main reasons that the report revealed for the reduction in UK wine drinkers. 

André Simon award shortlist announced

14th December, 2018

Simon Woolf’s book on orange wines and Oz Clarke’s reminiscences on the wines he loves are among the drinks books shortlisted for this year’s André Simon award.

The 40th year of the awards has produced a “bumper” crop of books according to chairman Nicholas Lander.

Every year the awards recognises the best books focused on food and drinks topics and this year there were more than 150 submissions, whittled down to nine food books and six drinks tomes.

The independent assessors this year were Meera Sodha on the food side of the judging and Victoria Moore for drinks.

The drinks books shortlisted this year are:

Simon Woolf’s Amber Revolution on the rise, fall and rise of ‘orange’ wines from ancient to modern times; Oz Clarke’s Red & White about the wines and regions that have most made their mark on his long career; Flawless by Jamie Goode which explores wine faults from cork taint to volatile acidity via brett and more; The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay which explores the taste profile of European wines region by region; Alex Maltman’s Vineyards, Rocks and Soils exploring the impact of geology on wine and, away from the usual alcohol focus, Michael Freeman and Tomothy D’Offay’s Life of Tea, looking at every aspect of this fascinating drink.

Moore said of the drinks shortlist this year: “The shortlisted authors bring a panoply of talents to the writing table. Among them are writers steeped in the disciplines of wine science, and geology; a photographer who has captured the landscapes and people of the world’s finest tea-producing regions; and great storytellers with the power to draw in even a reader who might not think he or she wanted to read a book about wine.”

Among those books shortlisted for the food category are works on the produce of the Shetland Islands, the culinary cultures surrounding the Black Sea, the role of the main ingredient in every meal, the story of a century old pie and mash shop in London and an Italian food travelogue.

Sodha commented: “This year’s crop of books is electric. In the shortlist are travelogues to inspire trips to eat your way around The Black Sea and Italy. There’s food writing on menus and on how ingredients behave which will enthral, educate (and steal your time away). Best of all there are recipes from all over the world: Vietnam to the Shetlands and from the women of Grenfell – all of which make me want to run into the kitchen and start cooking immediately.”

Lander commented: “This has been a bumper year for the André Simon awards. The shortlist features established food and drink figures, including Diana Henry and Oz Clarke, alongside first-time authors Ben Lebus and James and Tom Morton. The diverse publications range from a portrait of a pie and mash restaurant in East London to an exquisitely photographed homage to the world’s finest teas. This reflects a vibrant and dynamic food and drink book industry which our awards have been celebrating for 40 years. The shortlist provides fantastic ideas for Christmas stockings, having been whittled down from 150 strong entries.”

The full shortlists:

Shortlisted Food Books 2018

Black Sea Caroline Eden Quadrille Publishing
First, Catch Thom Eagle Quadrille Publishing
How to Eat a Peach Diana Henry Mitchell Beazley
Lateral Cooking Niki Segnit Bloomsbury Publishing
MOB Kitchen Ben Lebus Pavilion Books
Pasta, Pane, Vino Matt Goulding Hardie Grant Publishing
Pie and Mash Down the Roman Road Melanie McGrath Two Roads
Shetland James & Tom Morton Quadrille Publishing
Together The Hubb Community Kitchen Ebury Press


Shortlisted Drink Books 2018

Amber Revolution Simon J Woolf Morning Claret Productions
Flawless Jamie Goode University of California Press
Red & White Oz Clarke Little Brown Book Group
The Life of Tea Michael Freeman & Timothy D’Offay Mitchell Beazley
The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay Ten Speed Press
Vineyards, Rocks and Soils Alex Maltman Oxford University Press


The week in pictures

14th December, 2018

The 20th Annual SantaCon brought hundreds of festive revellers to New York last Saturday, 8 December. Attendees, who all dress as Santa, braved the freezing temperatures as they took part in a citywide bar crawl.

The Saint Nick themed merrymakers made stops at five dozen bars, pubs and karaoke spots as they made their way from Hell’s Kitchen, through Midtown and Chelsea before finishing in the East Village.