Prosecco in the pink
A flood of Rosé Prosecco is hitting the UK market following the relaxing of Prosecco DOC’s rules, which previously prohibited the addition of red grapes (some Prosecco-like wines were produced within the DOC’s boundaries but could not be sold as such). In order for it to be able to be called rosé Prosecco DOC, the wine needs to be aged for at least 60 days and it must include 10-15% Pinot Nero in the blend with the traditional Prosecco grape Glera making up the balance. If the popularity of regular Prosecco in restaurants is anything to go by, pink Prosecco is going to be a bankable hit in more casual venues. Indeed, some believe the spin-off could boost sales of northern Italian sparkling wine by an extraordinary 75 million bottles a year. Not everyone is happy, however, with producers in the higher quality Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG opposing the new designation on the grounds that Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) isn’t traditionally grown in the area and that the project is ‘purely a marketing operation’. Rosé Prosecco options include Slim Wine founder Anthony Gidley’s PINK Prosecco, which is presented in black and pink bottles and ‘offers hints of summer fruits such as strawberry and blackberry, with fantastic racing bubbles and a light, semi-sweet finish’ and a yet to be released wine made by the Prosecco Consortium itself. Gancia - a large wine company that has its origins in Piedmont - is also getting in on the action, launching a Prosecco Rosé produced in collaboration with high profile oenologist Donato Lanati.
Restaurant group Hawksmoor has extended its at-home range with the release of a Cocktails at Home offer. Available for nationwide deliveries from this month, the range includes four bottled and four canned cocktails, including a Dry Martini, Old Fashioned and Negroni.Each bottled cocktail serves two people, and will be priced between £12 and £14, or £48 for a set of all four, while the canned options are single serve and can only be purchased as a set of four for £28.
Louis Jadot Bourgogne Côte d’Or Rouge
Louis Jadot has launched a wine under the recently introduced Bourgogne Côte d’Or appellation, which is technically a new geographical denomination within the regional Bourgone appellation - which can be somewhat variable in quality - rather than being an AOC in its own right. The high profile négociant’s Bourgogne Côte d’Or Rouge has a label designed by students at London’s Central Saint Martins that highlights ‘the three elements that make this wine so special: the soils, the landscape and the Climats of the Côte d’Or’. The wine is deep in colour with aromas of cherries and dark berries. The tannins are said to be fine-grained and elegant, and the finish is described as ‘delightfully juicy’. Pitched at independent retail and quality restaurants, the wines are distributed by Hatch Mansfield.
Restaurants and pubs are now able to serve a pint of the black stuff to those avoiding alcohol thanks to the launch of alcohol-free Guinness. Launched in time for the Christmas period but expected to be a big hit during dry January as well, Guinness 0.0 is said to have the same smooth taste, flavour and colour of the original Guinness, jut minus the booze. The drink is brewed in the same way as the original stout before the alcohol is removed using a cold filtration method that the company says protects the integrity of its taste and character.
La Chouffe beer in cans
Belgian’s Brewery Achouffe is making its top-selling blond beer La Chouffe available in 330ml cans. Clocked at 8% abv, the beer has spicy aromas and fruity flavours including coriander and orange blossom, with a creamy billowing head and a herbal, peppery finish. The beers of the Achouffe brewery all sport their brewery’s signature red capped gnomes, which have sped around their labels since 1982, when they were designed as a nod to the brewery’s agricultural heritage in the Ardennes Forest. La Chouffe uses 100% natural ingredients: water, yeast, pale barley malt, Saaz-Saaz and Styrian Golding hop varieties. Coriander is also added, as seen more often in Belgian white beers.
Regal Rogue sustainable packaging
Australian vermouth brand Regal Rogue has rethought its packaging in a bid to reduce its environmental footprint. The bottles no longer come in paper wrap and the (glass and paper) packaging is now 98& recycled. In addition, Regal Rogue has introduced a five-litre bag-in-box format. Created in 2011 by Mark Ward, has been ‘turning Vermouth upside down since 2011’ bringing to the market a ‘sustainable, everyday quaffing style of Vermouth’. Regal Rogue blends organic Australian wine with indigenous Australian botanicals with varieties including Lively White, Daring Dry, Bold Red and Wild Rosé.
Two expressions have been launched under the Japanese whisky brand Hatozaki, a blended and a pure malt. Made by master distiller and blender Kimio Yonezawa at his family’s distillery in the port town of Akashi in south west Japan, the pure malt (£46) is a blend of single malt whiskies aged in bourbon, sherry and mizunara casks for a minimum of five to six years while Hatozaki blended (£34) is a blend of unpeated whiskies created through a two-stage blending process and aged in casks for several years. The brand is part of Marussia Beverages’ portfolio of Japanese spirits.
Crafty Nectar 0.5% cider
Cider brand Crafty Nectar and alcohol-free drinks specialist retailer Wise BarTender have teamed up for the launch of an alcohol-free cider. Crafty Nectar 0.5 contains West Country apple juice for a medium sweet drink that has been made to offer the flavour and mouthfeel of cider. The drink contains 76 calories per 330ml bottle.
Northwest Passage Expedition Gin
A craft gin has been created by a team of adventurers to raise awareness of ocean conservation and to help fund their row of the Northwest Passage. Made by The Orkney Distillery, Northwest Passage Expedition Gin is named after the Arctic route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is flavoured with botanicals from the shores of Orkney and the Hudson Bay in Canada. Ingredients include sugar kelp, angelica root, Burnet rose, lemon peel and calamondin. Proceeds from the sales of the gin will fund the Last Great First, an ocean row of the Northwest Passage planned for next year.
Salcombe’s duo of gins
Distiller Salcombe Gin has had a very busy few months and has added a further two expressions to its Voyager Series portfolio. The company’s sloe and damson gin - named Guiding Star after one of the famous Salcombe Fruit Schooners built in 1874 - has been developed in collaboration with Portuguese wine-maker Dirk Niepoort. The fruits are macerated in the gin before the liquid is filtered and finished for three months in an 80-year-old tawny port cask that previously held Niepoort’s Colheita 1997 20-year-old tawny port. Unlike some sloe gins, no sugar is added, with the natural sweetness coming from the lees in the port cask. Salcombe has also released Phantom, a limited-edition gin inspired by Sauternes wines that has been cask finished for eight months. Created in partnership between Château Climens owner Bérénice Lurton and co-founder of Salcombe Distilling Company Angus Lugsdin, Phantom’s run is limited to 3,500 500ml bottles.
Wilfred’s zero alcohol spirit
Wilfred’s is a new non-alcoholic drink that uses the naturally bittersweet ingredients found in a spritz to create a refreshing non-alcoholic aperitif. Designed to be served simply with tonic water, ice and slice of orange, the alcohol-free drink is made from a blend of bitter orange, rosemary, rhubarb and a hint of clove and is available in 500ml bottles with a price tag of £18.
Book: The Wines Of Portugal
Over the last five years or so Portuguese wines have become a staple on forward-thinking wine lists but really the UK is only scratching the surface - there’s an awful lot more to the country’s vinous output than vinho verde and port. The publication of The Wines Of Portugal (Infinite Ideas, £30) is therefore well-timed. Written by Richard Mayson, one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject, the book covers the history of Portuguese wine, grape varieties, winemaking and the regions and their producers, along with guidance for visitors. Mayson says he has hand-picked the featured producers based on their historic importance, the quality of their wines and international distribution.