The President‟s Column Back in mid November I drove over the moors to Whitby to attend that Section‟s Gourmet Dinner at “Red Chard”. I took with me several bottles of various St. Emilions which I talked about as we drank them with the very excellent meal. Of the five different Chateaux, the Ch. Monbousquet Grand Cru 2001 was outstanding. This chateau was bought by a supermarket mogul several years ago and I had not tasted it since its change of ownership. It was expensive at £40 per bottle (from Costco) but it was flavoursome, velvety and voted the favourite of the evening. Whitby Chairman, Christine Stevenson, who kindly sheltered me for the night following the dinner, had bought, on my behalf, three bottles of Ch. Pavie, Premier Cru Classe 1995, when her local Co-op sold off all its fine wines last year. At £22.50 a bottle it was a terrific bargain. We drank one precious bottle “en famille” on Christmas Day and declared “it‟s a knockout”. Early in February back at my base section, Scarborough, we enjoyed a visit from Nigel Green, ex Chairman of Hull. He introduced us to the art of buying and selling wine at Auction. I have only bought once this way. St Emilion in magnums or larger at the 1999 special sale at Sotheby‟s – to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of La Jurade. Both my son and I were present (we are both proud honorary members) and we overstretched ourselves somewhat – it was so exciting. However the wines we bought that day have been greatly enjoyed over the intervening years at The White Swan, at the many wine tastings and also “chez nous”. The Imperial of Balestard la Tonnelle 1983 St. Emilion Premier Cru Grand Cru Classe I donated for drinking at the re-instated Tom G. Porter dinner last year came from that sale and we did enjoy it. I will end with a personal gripe!! Scarborough Section Chairman, Howard Hunter, has been trying to persuade the management of the hotel we meet at to purchase some decent wine glasses, so far without success. How very short sighted! They would sell more good wine in their restaurant if they invested in something better than the Paris Goblets they use at the present. I have friends whose glassware is lamentable too so if I have to buy them a present, guess what they get!! To be able to nose a wine properly you must have the space for plenty of air in the bowl. It‟s also good for swirling. That‟s all for now, next time I write my column I should be in my new home. I am not looking forward to the move, but the saving grace will be that at long last I shall have a cellar! Deirdre Buchanan, President. Are you drinking above your station??? Many of you have probably been on Eurostar from the new £800m St Pancras International station, but did you know it also houses Europe‟s longest Champagne bar! Just a few feet from the track at platform level, the bar‟s customers are separated from the trains by a pane of glass that runs the entire 96m length of the bar. There are more than 70 Champagnes on offer ranging in price from £39.50 for De Nauroy Brut to £2,700 for Krug Collection 1947. 10 are available by the glass from £7.50 for Jean Paul Deville Carte Noire to £25 for Dom Perignon 1999 Annual Dinner 2007 A good time was had by all at the Annual Guild Dinner on 3rd November 2007 at The Royal Hotel, Scarborough. It proved to be an ideal venue with many members taking advantage of the special overnight rates to make a short break by the sea. Joan Turner, owner of the hotel, joined us for the evening after hosting a canape reception with Champagne sponsored by Lanson. The dinner which followed was a delicious feast. Terry Herbert supplied two good wines to match each course, to discuss and appreciate. Mary Sandham (Caistor), kindly donated the Nova LBV Port. The mystery wine competition was organised by Martin Bayne (York), not the usual run of the mill grapes but not too difficult. Once again Greta Henderson, last year‟s winner, was the winner again. Well done Greta!! Lively music completed the evening with a crowded floor proving there is life in the old dogs yet!! Highlight of the evening was when President Deirdre presented the Ken Buchanan award to Brian Shipley of Scarborough Section. Brian is a past Chairman of the Guild and a very valued long time member, bringing not only wisdom and advice to the committee but a sense of fun also. He accepted the award proudly and with his special wit gave an apt response on receiving the Tantalus award. Hazel Hart, Chairman. Bingley Section The usual Christmas Dinner, usually unsatisfactory, was replaced in December by a “members choice” evening, featuring wines from Spain, France, Chile, Australia and Italy. The undoubted starts were two Portuguese Daos from 1986 and 1983. Oddbin‟s David Caink showed three very different Albarinos in January and followed these with an interesting experiment with wines from his own cellar. An 2003 Pinotage/Cabernet from SA; a 2003 Shiraz/Cabernet from Australia and a 2004 Pinot Noir from New Zealand – 2 bottles of each wine but with one under cork and one with screw-cap. The wines were very different and the screw-cap evidently slowed maturation and gave a fresher, younger tasting wine. Opinions on which was the better varied widely, but it proved that screw capping a wine intended for cellaring is pointless – a not unexpected finding! Booth‟s supermarket provided the wines in February with a tasting of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from around the world. Our meeting in March was by HC Wines of York on the subject of “Hidden France”. *********** Sorry no report received from Caistor Section. Don‟t be surprised....... The cost of wine is going up by about 10%. Britain‟s favourite wine country – Australia – has had a poor harvest. In recent years there has been a surplus of grapes hence much Australian wine “on offer”, but the drought has knocked the bulk cheaper end of the market on the head. It would have been a good opportunity for the likes of Chile to step in and take advantage but the Chileans say that prices must increase to reflect the strong peso. Miguel Torres, who has vineyards in Spain and Chile says that prices are going up everywhere. The harvest in parts of Spain is well below normal, and France and Italy are reporting smaller than usual harvests. It is forecast that bottles will increase by about 50p, bottles selling at £3.49 will increase to £3.99 and those at £3.99 will go up to £4.49. There is a knock on effect, for instance prices of Port, Brandy and Sherry, which are grape based, will also increase. As I write this article the budget has not yet taken place (due on 12th March) but predictions forecast a hike in taxes on wine and spirits amid the concerns of binge drinking. The Wine & Spirit Association have conducted a survey and the argument is that a 10% rise in tax would only lead to a 2% reduction in the consumption of wine. ADDENDUM The budget has been and gone and just before the magazine goes to the printers I can add a note about the budget, although I am sure you will have read it!! 6% above inflation! Spirits up 55p a bottle; 14p on a bottle of wine, 18p on sparkling. With a further increase of 2% above inflation for the next 4 years! NOT ONLY...BUT ALSO The price of a cuppa is also about to rise! Shortages of tea from Kenya, currently gripped in political turmoil, is to blame. Kenya is Britian‟s biggest supplier of black tea and tribal violence coupled with a delay to the rainy season have pushed up prices. Unilever (PG Tips) have said the increases will passed on o the consumer!! ******************* What ever happened to...........Bulgarian Wine? It is not often you see Bulgarian wine in the supermarkets these days. Why? Politics! Up until 1990 Britian‟s best selling red was Cabernet Sauvignon from Bulgaria, but Australia was starting to make inroads at Bulgaria‟s expense. The post-war communist regime in Bulgaria forbade winemakers to visit other countries in search of modern ideas and productions methods so the smoother Australian style dominated. Worse still, President Gorbachev cancelled Bulgaria‟s wine order in line with his anti-alcohol policies. Consequently vineyards were abandoned and the communists uprooted some of the best vineyards. However all is not lost, some vineyards still exist and export to the West, and branches of the big named Supermarkets have a limited stock if you have withdrawal symptoms!! Harrogate Section Following on from an excellent Christmas party in December at the Courtyard restaurant when the committee chose and bought the wines we had HC wines for our meeting on January 15th - HC wine is John Hattam and Andy Clarke They're a brilliant double act and gave us a very entertaining presentation and some extremely interesting wines. The theme for the tasting was 'Hidden France'. Highlights included a deliciously fresh Quincy (amusingly introduced by Andy Clarke, who happens to be a pathologist) and a great-value dessert wine from Gascony, made from late harvest Petit Manseng. The star of the show was their elegant, fragrant Irancy from Domaine Colinot, a seductive blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% César. For our February meeting we welcomed Peter Fawcett from Field and Fawcett who is quite well-known to York members who are near enough to be able to visit his shop and excellent delicatessen, we understand run by his wife. He gave a very informative and interesting talk on wines from Southern Italy which is obviously along with New Zealand his main speciality having been involved importing wines from Italy in his previous job. He obviously knows the area well and since there are not many of us who know very much about wines from that part of the World and so many of the grape varieties are really quite unknown in other wine-growing areas, we learnt a lot about new varietals and what was being produced with them. In March we look forward to an Australian testing from Mike Perry of Nidderdale fine wines followed by Nigel Green in April who has kindly said he will give his talk about buying wines at Auction. We have we hope a varied and interesting year ahead with a mixture of tastings and other wine-related evenings along with a couple of rather more special tasting evenings planned for later in the year Hull Section Mr James Long made a welcome return visit in November and brought along a selection of wines to compliment Christmas Fayre. The 2002 Domaine Trignant de Brisset Pomerol was excellent. All in all, Mr Long maintained his reputation for entertaining presentations. In December Hull Section held its annual Christmas Dinner at our usual meeting place, Pier Luigi‟s. January was our AGM. His knowledge and passion for Bordeaux wines were most apparent at the February tasting expertly presented by Dr Gareth Morgan of Oinoudidasko Wines, York. For those sections who have not yet had the pleasure of one of Gareth‟s presentations I can strongly recommend you add him to your list of “future bookings” Leeds Section The Christmas Dinner – how far back does that seem now – took place at Rombalds Hotel, Ilkley. We tasted some excellent wines chosen by the committee, starting with Champagne and finishing with a South African “sticky”. Always a great evening. On January 14th Leeds Section met at Fortune River Cantonese Restaurant for a tasting of Sicilian wines presented by Paul Howard of Wine Alchemy. I did not attend myself due to illness but I have it on good authority from one of our members that Paul is an excellent speaker, interesting, informative and serving up some excellent wines. The tasting was followed by a superb Chinese banquet which is always the case at Fortune River. On February 11th Leeds Section met at Bar 166, Horsforth where John Hattam & Andy Clarke provided an excellent tasting of wines from around the world. We tasted 9 wines in all, kicking off with a lovely Limoux fizz before moving through England, Tasmania, New Zealand, Spain, Chile, Portugal, Italy and back to France for a 100% Petit Manseng non botrytis sweety. A very good evening followed by a meal of lamb hot pot and a lemon sponge dessert. Margaret Hesketh ****************** The things George says...... (do you need a surname???) “It‟s clearly a budget. It‟s got a lot of numbers in it” “I think war is a dangerous place” “More and more of our imports come from abroad” “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” Scarborough Section We started the New Year in firework style with a cracking tasting of Californian wines. Chris Mooney of John Fells brought guest presenter James Tookey who represents The Jackson Estates. Although Jess Jackson owns all the estates, each one is run completely independently as individual vineyards. The whites started with a Pinot Grigio from the Pepi Estate, Napa Valley and was followed by three wines from the famous Kendall/Jackson label. One Sauvignon and two Chardonnays. This label brings together the best of all the estates to produce intense full flavoured wines. A nice surprise for the ABC club. The reds started with two very different Pinot Noirs but they did not win over the Pinot Noir fans. These were followed by an amazing Zinfandel from the Edmeades Estate in Mendocino County and at 15.4% it certainly warmed the mid-winter evening. The reds finished with two VERY BIG Cabernet Sauvignons which although stunning wines require more time but at £15.89 and £22.89 we were not rushing to fill the cellar. So, I think the winners of the evening were the Chardonnays and the Zinfandel. A true reflection of our Californian experience. Linda Ibbotson Our meeting in February was presented by the new Vice Chairman of the Hull branch , Nigel Green, who explained the process of buying wines at auction, a far more involved process than we expected, that is if you want to secure good wines in good condition at the right price. Nigel‟s note at the bottom of his tasting sheet said everything "The truth is not on the label but behind it". Nigel brought along 8 wines he had purchased at auction for us to taste they ranged from Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie at £2 to a 1999 Mersault Les Vireuils from Oliver Leflaive at £22 the latter together with a Faustino de Autor Rioja Reserva Especial 1998 were felt to be the best of the night but an Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico from Tommasi finished the night on a high note. A most interesting event to be recommended to other sections. Howard Hunter TREASURERS REPORT ON THE ACCOUNTS TO 31 DECEMBER 2007 Following last year and the positive feedback, printed in this month‟s Sommelier are the financial statements for last year. These statements will be presented to the Annual General Meeting on 29th April 2008 in the Merchant Taylors Hall. Please remember to bring your copy with you . The finances remain on a sound footing, so much so that at the next committee meeting we shall be considering the possibility of a special refund to sections The accounts show a very similar pattern to previous years, with the cost of the magazine reduced and the initial website costs a one off payment. But more at the AGM. David Robinson Honorary Treasurer Sheffield Section On Monday 25 February 2008 Quentin Sadler a wine educator gave a tasting of wines from Villa Maria Estate based in Auckland New Zealand. The first five wines of the eight tasted were white and included a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay and a Taylors Pass Pinot Gris 2006 - all but one from the Marlborough vineyard. Then followed a rose Private Bin 2007 from Hawke‟s Bay, produced at roughly Bordeaux temperatures a lightly flavoured pleasant drink. The Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2006 from Marlborough had a good fruity taste good nose and lightish red. Finally there was a Reserve Merlot 2004 also from Hawke‟s Bay, deep red with a blackcurrant taste a well balanced wine having benefited from standing in new French oak for some 22 months. All the wines were in the 13%-14.5% range. Mr. Sadler explained the classifications of Villa Maria wines began with the Private Bin then the Cellar Selection, the Reserve followed and finally the Single Vineyard. The Villa Maria Estate has vineyards in both the North and South Islands and is the fourth largest wine producer in New Zealand. They have been in production for some 40 years. Canopy management and other factors give optimum time for growing makes for quality wine and play a part in the fact that New Zealand wines can and do command higher prices than many other wines today. It was interesting to note all the bottles used were screw tops which seems to have found favour generally for these wines. This was a very well presented tasting for which notes were provided and the 45 members present felt they had certainly improved their knowledge of New Zealand wine production. R Roper York Section Richard Goodacre presented Wines to accompany Curry at the Officers‟ Mess, Imphal Barracks on Monday 4th February. For those with an interest in military history there was the option to have a private visit to the Kohima museum prior to the main meeting. The Battle of Kohima in April 1944 halted the Japanese invasion of India, and the first time they had been stopped in World War II. The museum houses a collection of items donated almost exclusively by the veterans and their relatives. Three different curries of ascending strength were provided. With a Chicken Korma we tasted: Alamos Voignier 2007 from Mendoza in Argentina; Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Both these wines went well but the Voignier was considered to be marginally the better. With the Vegetable Allundam we tasted: Beringer Fume Blanc 2006 from the Napa Valley, California; Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2005 from Lodi County, California. No discernable advantage of one wine above the other. With the Beef Madras we tasted: Gewurtztraminer Grand Cru Eichberg 2005 from Philippe Zinck, Eguisheim, Alsace; McGuigan “Signature” Shiraz 2006 (16^), Langhome Creek, South Australia. Probably the most challenging course of the evening but one at which the red succeeded in being up to the match because of the sixteen degrees of alcohol. However the star was the Gewurtzraminer, long thought of as a wine to go with spicy foods, this example, perhaps because of the hint of sweetness, won the day. Before the deserts we had a palate cleanser of Codorniu brut reserve n.v. Cava. None of the wines failed to cope with the food, just some coped that much better. So you lager drinkers please consider wine in the future. Many thanks to Richard in choosing the wines for this different occasion. Martin Bayne Whitby Section Whitby Section returned to Dunsley Hall Hotel for our Christmas tasting, with a tour around the Iberian peninsula presented by Peter Hopkins from The Wine Bureau, Harrogate. Peter certainly did us proud with a total of 11 – yes, eleven! – wines and even better, he was able to blend tasting of the wines in with the traditional festive meal which the hotel provided. We began with an aperitif „Lavit Rosado Brut‟ Cava. Viudas, with the canapés we tasted a Rioja, a Vina Moçen 2006 and had a two wines with each course. The final flourish came when Peter presented us with a vertical tasting of three years of Niepoort LBV port, 1998, 1999 and 2003 all priced at around £14. A first-rate evening. Whitby Section AGM was held at The Moon & Sixpence in January. The welcome drink was an Endinger Engelsberg Rulander Auslese 2004 from the huge Badischer Winzerkeller at Breisach: softly sweet and a good aperitif provided it is chilled, a snip at £4.94 (at the winery and when the euro was € 1.48 = £1). After the usual business – the finances are healthy and the existing committee was re-elected en bloc, much to members‟ relief! – we moved on to a „Call My Bluff‟ style tasting with the meal. February saw us return to Red Chard on Flowergate for a tasting of Franconian wine with Martin Bayne. We packed out the house! 30 members and guests enjoyed an excellent meal interspersed with intriguing wines from a little-known region of Germany. A „Randersacker Bacchus‟ Kabinett ‟05 from Trockene Schmitts (£7.25) Two more whites followed: Castell Silvaner Trocken Krugelspiel ‟05 at £8.00 and Randersacker Marsberg Riesling Kabinett ‟04 (again from Trockene Schmitts and £7.60) the latter a dry and fruity expression of the grape in the traditional Franconian „bocksbeutel‟ flask. Martin gave us a helpful insight into the wine areas with the aid of a large map. Three reds accompanied the main course. A Spatburgunder ‟04 at £14.50; a Blaufrankish ‟04 at £9.25 and a Castell Cuvee „C‟ ‟03 at £15.30. This last was a blend of several grape varieties and a revelation for a German red being something of a blockbuster. If one thinks of sweeter wines as one of the German trademarks then Franconia is no exception. Dessert was accompanied by a Pfulben Rieslaner Auslese ‟04 at £15.25, the variety being a RieslingxSilvaner cross similar to the Albalonga grape variety: very satisfying and quite honeyed with complex sweetness, depth and length of flavour. Finally Martin pulled out of the hat (does he have one?) a rarely sampled treat, Casteller Silvaner Eiswein Kugelspiel ‟02 8.4% alc. at ---- £56 a bottle. Almost indescribable, an intense nose, huge flavour and depth with a balance of acidity for the sweetness, it would probably last for decades. A small glass was sufficient, more would swamp the palate. Thank you Martin! Richard Evans CONGRAUTULATIONS to Richard Evans (Whitby Section) who won Christine Austin „s fiendish Christmas wine quiz in the Yorkshire Post. He won a weekend for 2 in Scotland with a tour round a distillery. Well Done!! Yes, Your Majesty..... The Buckingham Palace cellars are the oldest part of the royal headquarters with seven store rooms they hold 25,000 bottles of wine, champagne and port for all occasions, from a small lunch to a state banquet. Among the reds, mostly French, are racks of Chateau Latour and Chateau Batailley. In the white section there are more from the Commonwealth, South African Chardonnays and New Zealand‟s Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Some supplies are “Civil List” paid for by the Government and used for state events, the rest is private stock like the Nebuchadnezzar of Champagne given to the Duke of York by his friends for his wedding in 1986. In charge of all this wine, The Clerk of the Wine Cellars, which is an honorary position, is the newly appointed Simon Berry. The Royal Sommelier, the yeoman of the Royal Cellars is the person who opens and serves the wine, but it is the Clerk who draws up the wine list. The Royal Family are not fussy drinkers, the Queen likes gin and Dubonnet, the Duke of Edinburgh likes bitter, the Prince of Wales enjoys a whisky and the young princes like their night club cocktails! However the royal household must cater to all tastes and the Queen has granted 29 royal warrants for drinks, from Bulmer‟s Cider to Krug Champagne. Simon Berry runs his own company Berry Brothers & Rudd from St. James Street. It is a family company started by Widow Bourne in 1698 selling groceries to the nobility. In the 18th century, through marriage the company passed to the Clarke family and attracted the custom of King George III. Coffee and Tea were the prized commodities of the day and were weighed on arrival and departure. The large scales are still in existence today and it was a fashionable form of Georgian entertainment to have oneself weighed. There is an old leather bound register showing people such as Pitt the Younger, Dame Nellie Melba and personalities of that ilk having their weight recorded, although Dame Nellie was very unhappy with her findings and it is noted “ weight not recorded”! The scales are used only on very special occasions nowadays. In the 1790‟s John Berry married into the firm and when his two sons took over the business became Berry Brothers. In 1903 Edward VII‟s doctor approached the company with an unusual request. The King had obtained a horseless carriage and required a “warming cordial” to fortify himself during his excursions in it. The Berrys came up with the King‟s Ginger Liqueur, (which is still on sale today at £14.95 a bottle). At 40% proof it is the world‟s most politically incorrect tipple, having being created for the purpose of drinking and driving. The King‟s Ginger also earned Berry Brothers their first Royal Warrant and they have been granted the arms of every monarch since. In 1920 Mr Rudd joined as a partner and in 1923 the company branched out into Scotch by creating Cutty Sark whisky. The company also became the first wine merchants, in 1994, to launch a website and the majority of sales are now conducted online. Several Rudds now work for the company and although the headquarters are still in London most of the stock has been moved to climate controlled premises in Basingstoke that contains, at any one time, 3.5m bottles although there is still a substantial stock at James Street. The oldest resident is a dusty bottle of 1834 Tokaji which is not for sale but may one day be opened when a sufficiently important occasion arises. The most expensive bottle on the market is a 2003 Domaine de la Romanee Conti at £6,400. The “best seller” is a good ordinary everyday claret which retails at £6.48. Simon Berry‟s own favourite is the company‟s own Reserve Burgundy! The most powerful person in wine........... and it‟s a lady!! Mariann Fischer Boel (64) from Denmark is Europe‟s agricultural commissioner who plans a controversial shake-up of the EU wine industry. Although Denmark is a non-wine producing country, she was born and brought up on a farm and believes that because she is not from a wine producing country she can look at the problems objectively. Previously she was the Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. As the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development she runs a department involving 2.4 million producers and 3.6 million hectares and makes decisions which affect 45% of the world‟s vines and 60% of its production. Her budget is 1.3 billion euros. Her predecessor took care of dairy, beef, grain and olive oil and left her to deal with fruit, vegetables and the trickiest of them all wine! Wine is not the biggest sector in the CAP, accounting for only 5% of the EU‟s agricultural output, but it is the hardest to reform. What Fischer Boel and the EC want to do is: - Reduce the EU vineyard by 200,000 hectares by voluntary subsidised grubbing up - End subsidies for distillation, storage and must enrichment - Ban chaptalisation - End planting restrictions - Introduce simpler labelling - Permit the use of cross-border blending To succeed in her plans she needs the support of 14 of the 27 member states and 255 of the 345 ministers. Sixteen of the 27 member states are wine-producing countries, however if France, Italy and Spain, who account for 75% of the EU plantings all say “No” to the reforms it would be hard for her to proceed. Two potential sticking points are planting rights and chaptalisation. Under the CMO (Common Market Organisation for Wine) the present planting rights expire in 2010, currently excess wine is distilled and compensation pay-outs amount to half a billion euros a year. Those leaving the wine sector and taking payment for grubbing up will be assessed as to how much they will receive by various criteria such as what and where the grubbing up involves, for instance the grubbing up on slopes will be restricted. Fischer Boel believes that the better winemakers will continue in business because it would not be worth their while not to do so. Fischer Boel states that European wine needs to regain the market share lost to other countries. For instance in Ireland 75% of the wine they drink is imported from outside Europe. Quality needs to improve and the wine lakes need to be drained. If she succeeds the European wine sector will change dramatically over the next five years, more competitive, better adapted to what the market wants and no longer reliant on subsidies. Her term ends in 2009 but she would like to stay until 2014 to see the results of her reforms! Watch this space!!! Précised from Tim Atkin MW in Wine & Spirit ******************** Lazzaria Winery This is one vineyard you would not want to qualify to work in, it is in a walled area, not a small dry-stone affair like Burgundy, but tall thick concrete fortifications topped with searchlights and watch towers! This vineyard is in an Italian prison! So unfortunately no calling in for a tasting!! Casa Curcondariale Nouvo Complesso Velletri! The winery dates back to 1999 when an agronomist called Rodolfo Craia came up with the idea of planting a vineyard and integrating it into the life of the prison. The winery now makes 40,000 bottles of wine sourced from its own two hectares and some grapes bought in. The wines are sold under the Lazio IGT category. The winery is small but well equipped, the cellar has plenty of tank space, its own bottling line, a modern press, destemmer and crusher and a pyramid of barrels in which to age the best red. The prison makes five wines, an unoaked Chardonnay called Luce di Luna; a honeyed Malvasia Puntinate; a smooth easy drinking Cabernet Sauvignon caled “Il Recluso” (The Prisoner); a juicy Sangoivese and Malvasia Nero blend called “Fuggiasco (The Fugative) and the best one, a subtly oaked Sangoivese called “Le Sette Mandate” (Seven turns of the key). Working with the wine (and olive oil) is regarded as a privilege, 18 prisoners work for about 6 hours a day in the winery, vineyards and olive groves in what is known as semi-free status. It is a medium security prison, housing prisoners for not more than 10 years. The prisoners are not allowed to drink the wine, but can drink 25cl only if it is watered down to a strength of 10%. The wine is sold through 2 local wholesalers to restaurants and wine shops in the area at between 5 and 12 euros a bottle giving the prison some income. Are you a recycler?? I am sure you all put your empty wine bottles in the bottle bin, but there is now a problem in the recycling world! According to WRAP (a UK government funded agency that aims to help British business reduce waste) about 2.5m tonnes of glass packaging enters the UK every year. The UK waste stream contains about 1m tonnes of green glass. British glass container furnaces produce about 400,000 of green glass each year, and 600,000 tonnes are imported into the UK. The UK‟s disposal industry is struggling to cope. There is more green glass waste than there is domestic demand to enable it to be recycled here, and an awful lot of glass is ending up in landfill sites. Then there is the issue of carbon emissions! According to an Italian environment physicist, each single bottle of wine is responsible for generating something in the region of 16g of sulphur dioxide. What is the alternative? The main contenders are PET plastic bottles, foil and plastic pouches and Tetra Pak. They are more carbon efficient as they are lighter and easier to transport. However each option has its own problems. In the case of plastic pouches, they are not recyclable. Tetra Pak are poorly recycled and PET bottles are produced from oil-based polymers and are dependent upon the ever decreasing oil supplies. Then there is quality – wine in bottle can remain fairly consistent (depending on the quality of the wine) for many years, whereas the other alternatives only give a wine life of a couple of years. It is not just the bottle – what about the capsule and the closure? Can packaging ever be really green? The debate goes on!! Précised from Wine & Spirit The Water Table Did you know...... Claridges Restaurant in London now has a list of 30 waters for your perusal. Gordon Ramsey‟s restaurant offers a New Zealand water, 420 volcanic at £50 per litre - £12.50 per glass. Decanter magazine did a blind tasting of 24 waters to see if this water tasted any different from tap water. Based on the same conditions as a blind wine tasting. Some were reported as crisp, mine rally, oily etc. here are the results: 1st. Waiwera – New Zealand £9 litre – Claridges. Fat and richly textured. Ripe & refreshing with A slightly salty tang. 2nd Vittel – France 59p litre – Tesco Attractive with clean soft palate, fresh purity. 3rd. Four tied for 3rd place. a) Thames Tap Water Clear, pure, clean taste and soft texture. b) Iskilde – Denmark £9 litre – Claridges c) 10 Thousand BC – British Columbia £15 litre Claridges d) Fiji – Fiji £1.95 litre - Waitrose Bottom three: 22nd Bling H2O – USA £33 litre – via internet. Heavy, oily, unpleasant 23rd Glaciana – Norway £1.79 litre – Waitrose Salty and harsh, not very elegant 24th Decanter‟s own filtered tap water Dull, lacks character.