Move over Davey Jones - here's Roederer's locker

27 June, 2008

Champagne house Louis Roederer is investigating a novel way of storing wine - it has immersed several dozen bottles of its Brut Premier wine in the sea at the French port of St Malo. The idea is that the constant temperature of 10ºC, the gentle movement of the water and the lack of light would make the sea bed a perfect cellar.

Maybe they should have spoken to Burgundy producer Stéphane Aladame, who took part in the same experiment last year, before dropping their wares 15m deep into the brin y. Stormy seas broke up his case and divers were only able to retrieve 250 of the 300 bottles of Montagny he stored underwater.

And of those, only six kept their wax seals intact and weren't ruined by sea water. But Aladame said the experiment would have been a success if only more bottles had survived: "The wines which weren't ruined had softened and rounded because of the movement of the tide - it was like battonage in the bottle."

Restaurant comes clean

A New Zealand restaurant is in trouble after making the classic mistake of serving its customers industrial dishwasher fluid instead of mulled wine. Yes, we know, it's easily done: you think you've reached for the aromatic spicy wine, infused with cloves and oranges and cinnamon, but in fact it's some sodium hydroxide.

Two women were hospitalised as a result of the mix-up: the customer who was served the drink and the member of staff who offered to taste it herself to see if it really did taste as strange as was being made out.

Still crazy

A human figure peppered with capsules taken from inside inhalers ... another the victim of a melted chocolate attack ... a third carrying blood bags retrieved from the bedsides of dead patients at a Manchester hospital. Sounds like the Friday night crowd coming in for their white cider and Crunchie bars, doesn't it? But no, this is art, and the mannequins were part of the entertainment at the Beck's Fusion press launch.

Makes a change from PowerPoint.

Tips for tipples

The po-faced Daily Mail may be on a fundamentalist crusade to rid the nation of cheap alcohol, but over at the liberal-minded Guardian, discount booze is a cause for celebration.

The Grauniad has been publishing a series of supplements advising readers on how to live more frugally. Alcoholic drinks came under its spotlight and it recommended booze cruises, homebrewing and Morrisons fizz as viable ways of saving money.

It added: "A price war in the supermarkets has reduced the price of a can of lager to as little as 25p - less than the price of water. So you really can get tipsy for as little as £1, but it will be drinking Tesco Value or Asda Smart Price lager."

Down on the wine farm

City farms are a great idea, especially with polls regularly showing that urban kids think horses grow from eggs, sausages are little animals caught by trappers, and over-fishing in the North Sea is putting pressure on bacon supplies.

It's possibly the same story with grown-ups and wine, which is why it's good to see McGuigan constructing a "city vineyard" at Broadgate Arena in London's Liverpool Street from July 9-11.

Our informant explains: "Basically, the vineyard is an installation of real-life vines and a cellar door. Consumers will be able to walk among

the vines, sample wines from the cellar door and learn more about wine from the winemaking team. It's about bringing wine closer to the consumer, and creating a bit of brand awareness too, of course."

The main event

Ever fantasised about a bare-knuckle fight between Robert Parker and Michael Broadbent? Well, of course you haven't. It would be a bloody and degrading spectacle, and one that could only bring shame and disgrace upon our gentlemanly trade.

But that's not to say it wouldn't be fascinating. Parker's website has described Broadbent as "a dinosaur struggling for relevance"; the Yorkshireman's views on his American counterpart are not recorded.

Roberson has hit upon the idea of pitting Parker and Broadbent against one another at a £100-a-head tasting at its cellars in Kensington High Street. The event, due to take place

on July 10, allows guests to sample a range of Parker-endorsed wines and contrast them with some which have received the blessing of his elder and possibly better.

For £100 we'd at least expect to be able to watch the great men arm-wrestle, but we realise they both have expensive tastes.

Sounds like wine ...

The WSET could take a leaf out of the book of Boisset-owned Burgundian winery Bouchard Aîné & Fils's visitor centre in Beaune.

The "five senses" wine experience takes eager

glass-clutching tourists around the cellars of the company's headquarters, teaching them to appreciate wine through sight - thanks to a poster showing so many colour gradations that it puts interminable WSET school "is it ruby or garnet" discussions to shame; through smell, by sniffing jars of all sorts of aromas you'd find in wines; through touch, by touching different materials reminiscent of different wines' mouthfeel; and through taste, with top chefs' food-matching recommendations for different Bouchard wines.

Throughout the tour an odd jangly sound echoing through the

corridors suggests

someone hasn't turned their mobile off . But no, this is the sound element of the experience, a medley of noises you might associate with wine, like pouring and glass chinking and ... er ... jangling.




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