Moet & Chandon Gets Fresh


Green Point in Victoria, Australia forms part of Moet and Chandon’s vast worldwide empire (which includes Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, etc) and it seems that this remote outpost has been given the freedom by their overlords in France to experiment and innovate in a way that would normally be taboo in the heartlands of Champagne.

Last weekend, whilst browsing the shelves in my local Oddbins, I came across a bottle of Green Point Rose 2002. Two things struck me. Firstly, that being only 4 years old, the wine was young for a top end sparkler and, secondly, the bottle was sealed with a crown cap. You know, exactly the same closure used on beer bottles. I had a double take!

The wine cost £13.99 and was utterly delicious.

It would appear that Green Point have also had to deal with balancing the issue of product quality vs. cork aesthetics. Some might argue that flipping a crown cap doesn’t quite carry with it the romance of popping a Champagne cork, but if the cap results in a better quality, isn’t that what’s most importatnt?

The interesting thing here is that one of the most traditional wine products in the world has made a statement about freshness being critical to quality. They are effectively saying ” We are going to sell our champagne young and seal it with a cap to keep it fresh”. If they want to be really daring, we’d like offer them the opportunity to use our freshness indicator.

The Theory Of Consumption


Still mulling over the death last week of Aussie wine champion, Len Evans, I was reminded of his “winner takes all” view of life in an obituary by Brian Stonier of Stonier Wines in Victoria.

Len created his own ‘Theory Of Consumption’ some years ago. I think it’s still relevant today and briefly, here it is:

“There’s an awful lot of wine in the World but there’s also a lot of awful wine. No sensible person drinks to excess, therefore, any one person can only drink a certain amount in a lifetime.”

“To make the most of the time left to you, you must start by calculating your total future capacity. One bottle a day is 365 bottles a year. If your life expectancy is another 30 years there are only 10,950 bottles ahead of you, or 5 bottles a week by 30 years equals 7,800 bottles to drink”.

“People who say you can’t drink the good stuff all the time are talking rubbish: You must drink good stuff all the time. Every time you drink a bottle of inferior wine it’s like smashing a superior bottle against the wall; the pleasure is lost forever – you can’t get that bottle back. There are people who build up huge cellars, most of which they have no hope of drinking. They are foolish in over-estimating their capacity, but they err on the right side and their friends love them”.

“What part is wine in your life? 10%? Therefore, 10% of your income should be spent on wine”

I have no doubt he practised this wonderful theory himself.

Thanks Brian for reminding me.

Snakes On A Plane


This latest release starring Samuel L Jackson is, as the title, suggests about a bunch of snakes (let loose) on a plane. In itself, hardly remarkable. What’s interesting though is that it has been rewritten and refilmed in line with the suggestions of hundreds of thousands of bloggers around the world.

In it’s original form, the general view was that the film was set to become one of the great turkeys of the year, but now, reclaiming its $25+ million budget will be a breeze.

What happened was that as news of this “disaster” movie leaked onto the internet a whole conversation started about firstly the amusing presence of Samuel L Jackson in such a film and then bloggers started discussing how the film could be made better. The studio took note and acted accordingly.

A few more snakes? No problem.
A couple attempting to join the Mile High Club? Consider it done.
Bit more Mother******* swearing? F****** sorted.

And, so it went on.

Looks like the blogosphere has helped release the first truly Open Source movie. Might even go watch it now!

Goodbye Len Evans


We were all saddened yesterday to hear of the death of Len Evans. He was an inspirational person who was known as “The Godfather of The Australian Wine Industry”. It is generally agreed that he did more than anyone else to raise the profile of Australian wine.

I was fortunate enough to meet Len on a couple of occasions and even in the short time I was with him you couldn’t fail to be charmed by his wit, style and sheer passion for wine.

He died on August 17th in Newcastle, New South Wales.

We’ll all raise a glass or two in memory of a great man.

Stormhoek on Redmonk Radio


James Governor over at Redmonk recently did a podcast looking at how Stormhoek should blend our wine together with connectivity and open a chain of WiFi wine bars. You can down load the podcast here.

First port of call Cape Town?

Thanks James.

MW’s Symposium – Napa Valley 2006


Rather like the FIFA World Cup Finals, every four years The Institute of Masters of Wine, gather together. The opportunity is used to discuss a wide variety of issues affecting the wine industry.

This year the symposium was held in the rarefied atmosphere of the Napa Valley, California.

I had an email sent to me the other day from our good friend, Jancis Robinson. She had just returned from the event and said that by far the best presentation, to her mind, was given by one of the few “outsiders” invited to speak there.

Terry McBride from Nettwerk Productions gave a detailed talk on “Innovative ideas for creating new micro-marketing techniques”. Much of his presentation focussed on how the internet has become a powerful tool in this area. Cool!

Our industry needs all the help it can get in connecting with the consumer and it’s encouraging to see people from other areas of business sharing their views and experience with us. I hope that the MW’s will use the information positively.

PS. Terry, it would be good to meet with you sometime. I’ve always considered wine to be part of the entertainments business and there are many common links between our industries

England Versus Ecuador


The pundits are confidently predicting that England have a huge task ahead of them if they are to beat Ecuador in the second stage of the FIFA World Cup Finals on Sunday 25th June.

Players are injured and the team is struggling to hit form.

Not as bigger task though as the guys at Chaupi Estancia Winery right on the equator, who make wine from their vineyards at over 8000 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Andean Mountains.

Now that must be a real challenge. I’d love to try them some day.

Cristal – An Uneasy Relationship With The Customer


Even if you don’t know much about wine, you’ve probably heard of Cristal Champagne. Made by the house of
Louis Roederer, Cristal has always enjoyed a position of ultra prestige. Even from day one, when it was created for Czar Alexander II in the 19th Century, this extravagant wine in its distinctive clear glass bottle has been enjoyed by royalty, aristocracy and the super rich for over 100 years.

More recently, the stars of Hip-Hop and Rap have taken Cristal to their hearts and made it their own. Ever since Sean “P Diddy” Coombes famously served the wine at a lavish party, Cristal has become the only Champagne to be seen with by a rapidly growing, wealthy, young, high octane, black community.

It seems to have got to the point where its new followers would rather not drink Champagne at all if Cristal is unavailable. How many brands can boast such loyal customers?

It is possible, however, that the party might be over.

In a recent article, rapper Jay-Z, (who has even written songs about Cristal), accused Roederer boss, Frederic Rouzaud of racism after he described the phenomena of Cristal having become the darling of “Bling Culture” as “Unwelcome attention”.

Rule one – Respect your customers. Rule two – See rule one!

Jason In The Telegraph


Jason was interviewed by business reporter, Jamie Oliver, for The Telegraph the other day. Read the article here.

Jamie was interested to know how people are using blogs to boost their business.

It’s great to see others such as Guy Kawasaki, Matthew Stibbe, Colin Jervis and, of course, Tom Mahon all in the same write up.

Seems like the message is slowly beginning to get through. Cool.

Sir Cliff Tells Gordon Ramsay To F-Off!


Having been asked to take part in a “blind” wine tasting for the new series of the cooking show, The F-Word on Channel 4, Sir Cliff Richard was caught out by host, Gordon Ramsay, and openly rubbished his own, high profile, “celebrity” wine, Vida Nova. Read the whole article here.

Sir Cliff Richard started making wine at his holiday home near Gaia in the Algarve region of Portugal some years ago. An odd decision, as vine growing and wine making in that neck of the woods are damn difficult.

The sandy soils, relentless Atlantic Ocean breezes and searing summer temperatures are not good bed-fellows for the vineyard owner and wine maker.

Perhaps he thought people would buy the wine anyway because of his involvement. Tesco’s thought so, because they snaffled up the first wine in 2001.

This was actually made to the north in the Alentejo region, and a fair bit of wine from this area was added to the final blend.

As the wines are now made on site, maybe the only additions are a bit of sugar to soften the raw, acidic edges normally associated with red wines from the Algarve. Although not enough by all accounts, because, as we are told: Since the first vintage, Vida Nova has conformed to type, i.e. “Tastes like vinaigrette” according to the owner”.

Pass the salad then.

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