Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Grace Vineyard launches People’s Series

Power to the people

In what is surely the most striking and modern wine label design to have come out of China, forward thinking, Shanxi-based, Grace Vineyard has launched a duo of wines onto the market in tribute to the people of China. According to wine blog Grape Wall of China, People’s Series, formed of a 2011 Cabernet and a 2011 Chardonnay, features Chinese workers, farmers and students on its cartoon-like label.

The grapes for the Cabernet come from plots near Mount Helan in Ningxia grown at 1,100 meters altitude by local farmers from the Qing Tong Xia region, while the Chardonnay hails from the Shanxi region where Grace is based. The wines are to be distributed in the country by Torres China with an rrp of 99 Yuan (£10.50) per bottle, with plans to export the wines to the UK in the offing.

“People’s Series will appeal to a young crowd of new consumers in primary cities, with a packaging and a style that can satisfy their aspirations and demand for easy-drinking domestically produced wines,” says Alberto Fernandez, managing partner of Torres China, who came up with the idea for the wines.

Monday, 29 July 2013

London gets its first winery

Taking its lead from the burgeoning craft beer and small batch distilling movement sweeping the capital, London’s first ever boutique winery is set to open in a former gin distillery in Earl’s Court, West London, this November, according to the drinks business

The brainchild of the irreverent and adroit Cliff Roberson, founder of revered High Street Kensington wine merchant Roberson, London Cru is currently being kitted out with equipment, with its first batch of grapes expected to arrive in September.

Roberson’s senior buyer and Master of Wine student, Mark Andrew, has been tasked with sourcing hand-harvested grapes from select growers in Bordeaux, the Languedoc and Roussillon. London Cru will aim for all of its grapes to reach the winery within 36 hours of delivery.

Australian-born winemaker Gavin Monery, who has previously worked at Cullen and Moss Wood in Australia and Jean-Louis Chave in the Northern Rhône, will oversee the entire winemaking process, from the moment the grapes are delivered through to bottling.

“With so many people creating world-class craft beers and spirits in London, we thought it was time to do the same with wine. It’s going to be a challenge, but we have the tools, skills and experience to make top quality wines in an urban environment and the freedom to create the styles that we want,” Monery said.

The first bottling from London Cru is expected to go on sale next summer. Doors open to the public in November, with London Cru offering wine tastings and tours.   

Friday, 26 July 2013

Grand Marnier to launch prestige pisco in UK

Pisco is having something of a moment in London. No longer the preserve of South Americans, who like to mix it with Coke into a "Piscola", the Peruvian food boom in London last year also brought Chile and Peru's national drink over to the capital in the form of the refreshing Pisco Sour. 

Spotting London's growing thirst for the grape-based spirit, Charles de Bournet, a seventh generation member of the Marnier Lapostolle family, makers of orange-flavoured brandy liqueur Grand Marnier, has decided to strike while the iron is hot and launch his super-premium pisco – Kappa – in the UK.

Made from 100% Muscat grapes grown in the cool climate Elqui Valley in Chile, Kappa takes its name from a star cluster within the Southern Cross Constellation visible at night in the Elqui Valley. Nicknamed the “Jewel Box”, Kappa Crucis is considered one of the most beautiful star clusters in the Southern Hemisphere.                     

de Bournet has capitalised on his family’s Cognac making expertise, bringing a cutting edge copper alambic skill from Cognac to Chile in which to make the pisco. Unlike many piscos, Kappa is double distilled in the Cognac model in order to heighten the complexity of flavours and aromas in the spirit.
He believes the quality of the Muscat grapes from Elqui and the company’s distilling knowledge both play a critical role in the pisco’s quality. “It has the soul of Cognac, the versatility of vodka, the complexity of gin and the smoothness of Tequila,” de Bournet told the drinks business, adding, “I’m a big pisco fan and wanted to bring something new to the market and create a new super-premium category.

Just 5,000 cases of the spirit are currently made, but de Bournet has ambitious expansion plans for the brand, with a barrel-aged variant in the pipeline.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Justin Timberlake's Tequila to make UK debut

He's known for bringing sexy back, and now singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake is bringing his popular 901 Tequila brand to the UK via a hook-up with London-based drinks distributor Hi-Spirits. The 40% abv triple-distilled silver Tequila will be available in select shops, restaurants and bars with an RRP of £32.85 for a 700ml bottle.

Co-founded in 2009 by Justin Timberlake and Kevin Ruder, 901 is produced by Destileria Santa Lucia from a 60-year-old recipe. Triple-distilled from 100% Blue Weber Agave from Jalisco in Mexico, 901 Tequila is produced in small batches and was awarded a Double Gold medal at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

“901 Tequila has been extremely well received by our distributors, cocktail experts and most importantly, consumers during our first four years in the American marketplace. We look forward to continuing to build the brand with Hi-Spirits in the UK,” said Kevin Ruder, president of 901.  

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said he was “delighted” to be bringing 901 Tequila to the UK. “Justin Timberlake’s deep respect for the heritage and quality of Tequila has led to the development of a premium spirit that has a wide appeal,” he said. The Tequila is named after the area code of Justin’s hometown of Memphis.