Wine in brief

09 March, 2007

Online retailer From Vineyards Direct has introduced two mixed cases. The vintage tasting case offers 12 wines from France and is priced at £114.40, while the grand cru tasting case - at £177.20 - is also focused on top-end French wine with one Super Tuscan.

A website which enables visitors to improve their wine knowledge for free has been launched by wine event company Taste of the Vine. has been set up to help retailers and their customers learn more about wines through a course and tasting tool kit. Francis Gimblett, managing director of Taste of the Vine, said: "These are both fun, interactive programmes that you can do in your spare moments ."

Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut has been chosen as the official Champagne of this year's Taste festivals. One hundred of the country's leading restaurants will be showcased at events in London, Bath, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Dublin. Laurent-Perrier will also work with Soho seafood restaurant Randall & Aubin to provide the Laurent-Perrier Champagne and Seafood Bar.

Heidsieck Monopole Champagne has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with UK Athletics. The partnership began at the UK Indoor City Challenge Final in Sheffield on Feb 17, where all winners were given a bottle of the Champagne. Marketing manager Colin Cameron said: "We look forward to celebrating success with UK Athletics in the run up to the 2008 Olympics."

South Africa is Waitrose's focus country for March, with 25 per cent off a selection of wines such as Douglas Green Cabernet Sauvignon 2004/5, Danie de Wet Earth & Sky 2005/6 Chardonnay and Spier Sauvignon Blanc 2005/6. Discounts on sparkling wine and Champagne, such as 20 per cent off Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut (£5.99) , will also run this month.

Piedmont-based wine producer Tosti has created a sparkling pink Pinot Grigio NV. Made in response to the rosé boom, it has just been launched into the off-trade under the Carino label, priced at £ 7.99. Export manager Luca Dellevalle said: "It is perfect for summer."

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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