Harrods sets new standards for drinks retailing

Harrods new wine and spirits shop is part of a multi-million pound investment in food and drinks retailing at the London department store

The shop can be found within the basement of Harrods that forms part of a wider overhaul of the department store’s food and drink offering dubbed ‘The Taste Revolution’.

Designer Martin Brudnizki has created the space to be inspired by the Art Deco opulence captured in The Great Gatsby to be elegant and glamorous.

Brudnizki – who was responsible for the look of famous restaurants such as The Ivy and Sexy Fish.

With marble flooring and limed oak shelving, the look and feel of the new area was carefully done to create something “quite homely and accessible”, as well as a space that “talked of the history of Harrods; talked of an iconic British brand”, said Gerard, noting that wine and spirits was the second department ever created in the life of the store, following its origins as a tea house.

While the materials give an impression of opulence, the scale of the new shop, which covers around 8,000 sq ft, is accentuated by its layout over a long, low-ceilinged space, featuring a series of interconnected rooms, allowing one to look through the store from one end to the other, with features that lead the eye into the distance.

Putting aside the overall impact, it’s the detailing of the drinks shop that really impresses. Chilled, glass-fronted cabinets called ‘Hero Shelves’ contain the finest wines in the range, while all the lighting is screened in such as way to prevent the emission of damaging heat or ultraviolet rays.

Within these cabinets are constantly circulating flows of air to keep the wines at the perfect temperature and humidity, and there’s even a whole room of these transparent containers for magnums and even bigger bottle sizes.

“We have always had a really good range of large formats, but before, they weren’t displayed with authority,” said Gerard.

Bespoke cradles are also used to hold display bottles at an angle of 27 degrees, which, Gerard told db, is the optimum slant for visual effect that still allows the wine to remain in contact with the cork – which is of course necessary to keep the stopper wet.

Then there’s the overall temperature of the space, which is kept at a constant 18.5 degrees Celsius, in contrast to the old drinks shop, which was at 20 degrees C like the rest of the department store (although this former area did contain at ‘fine wine vault’ chilled to 17 degrees C).

Considering the new shop, like its predecessor, is housed in the lower ground floor of Harrods, why was the decision taken to move it to a different part of the same level?

Gerard explains. “With our old location we were effectively landlocked, whereas now there are 12 different ways of approaching the shop, so we are much more accessible, and there are five separate openings leading into the area.”

But the other main reason to move and create a completely new drinks shop within the department store is “to revolutionise the concept of fine wine retailing,” according to Gerard.

Aroma tables guide shoppers through the flavours of each grape

Continuing, he said, “Often the experience of buying fine wine is too high-brow and intimidating, so you don’t attract the aspiring amateurs…. We wanted to create an environment that would deliver the exclusive service of Harrods to everyone.”

Helping Harrods in this endeavour is the educational element within the new store.

Throughout the space are ‘aroma tables’ featuring trumpet-like devices that, with the squeeze of a rubber bulb, like an old-fashioned perfume sprayer, delivers the trademark smells of key noble grape varieties, from Chardonnay to Syrah and Pinot Noir.

The shop also includes two private tasting areas, one devoted to delivering wine education in partnership with the WSET, and the other acting as a consulting area for clients looking for specialist advice.

There is also a spirits room where, unusually, the labels are arranged by style, and this leads into a special area devoted entirely to the retailing of Louis XIII Cognac by Rémy Martin.

Beyond this is one of the most notable new developments for London as a whole, and that is the creation of a walk-in humidor and ‘cigar sampling’ room.

While the former allows customers to store cigars in special lockers that can be rented for £3000 per year, the latter is the first space in the UK to use a special smoke-filtering system to ensure you don’t step out of this basement space smelling of tobacco.

Developed in Switzerland, the Airkel air-filtration system ensures the sampling area is subject to a constant flow of air that strips the room from any smoke, but also your clothes – effectively washing everything free from the aroma-giving particles.

Also, one can consume any drink bought in the wine and spirits to complement your cigar, and there’s no extra ‘corkage’ charge.

Furthermore, all wines bought in the shop can be drunk in any of Harrods restaurants for £30.

So, what about the wine range in the new space? Gerard told db that it runs to 1,400 different lines, augmented by a further 600 spirits. While the wine range isn’t significantly larger than it was in the old shop, he has made a lot of changes, and says there are as many as 400 new lines, and, in terms of price, the current range goes from £9 to £28,000 a bottle.

“We are now direct to source, because we want to always offer perfect provenance… the prevalence of forgery and fakes out there is scary, and Harrods has to have the stamp of authenticity,” he remarked, adding, “But it’s not just about forgery, but getting the wines to the customers in the right condition.”

“There is a lot happening at Harrods, and we are going through our biggest development in the 180-year history of Harrods, which we are calling ‘the taste revolution’. And we are doing this because the food and wine business is at the heart of this business.”

The most expensive single bottle of wine in the new shop is a Riesling! Hailing directly from the cellars of Egon Muller – a Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) from the producer’s famous Scharzofberger vineyard in Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region.

Source: Drinks Business UK

Dom Pérignon Pop-Up at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, is celebrating summer in style with the launch of an exclusive Dom Pérignon Pop Up Bar in the Hotel’s lush garden.

Located in the hotel’s garden among the bougainvilleas, rosebays and hibiscus, the Dom Pérignon Pop Up Bar offers an ideal setting to enjoy a pre-dinner or post-dinner drink. The décor is themed after Dom Pérignon’s elegant black and gold colours in a chic and cosy spirit. Benches and chairs with comfortable cushions are set up in a lounge-styled atmosphere around a fountain while tables are lit by candles creating an utmost romantic feel. Guests can sip on Champagne and taste a selection of food pairings from Executive Chef Yoric Tièche while enjoying live music entertainment.

Two vintages will be poured: from P1 2006 and the P2 2000, both reflecting the exceptional savoir-faire of the brand. To pair with these exceptional vintages, Chef Yoric Tièche has created a selection of canapés combining Provençal flavours and sea influences.

The Dom Pérignon Pop-Up Bar is open from July 15 to September 16, 2017, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 pm, with live music atmosphere coming from the Grand-Hôtel’s terraces. No booking required.

• Glass of Dom Pérignon “P1” 2006: EUR 64 with food pairing
• Glass of Dom Pérignon “P2” 2000: EUR 78 with food pairing

To enhance their gastronomic experience, guests at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, may book the French Riviera Gourmet package including an aperitif at the Pop-Up Dom Pérignon Champagne Bar and a dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Cap. Reservations at + 33(0)4 93 76 50 50 or reservations.capferrat@fourseasons.com

http://www.fourseasons.com/capferrat/
https://www.domperignon.com/ww-en/

The Cités des Vins de Bourgogne Has Been Approved

The Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) has recently voted and approved the Cités des Vins de Bourgogne.  This new wine tourism, cultural and education facility will be built on three sites located in Mâcon, Beaune, and Chablis.

According to Louis-Fabrice Latour, President of the BIVB, it will be “a project that will affect an entire generation”.  Partners include the Association for the Climats of Bourgogne, the tourism industry, and local and regional authorities.

The main site of the Cités des Vins will be located just outside the town of Beaune, which will also include a five-star hotel.

From the Cité des Vins de Bourgogne –“Each Cité des Vins de Bourgogne is a place where people can find out about Bourgogne wines, with shared content and communication tools, each site also acting as a local showcase. The Climats of the Bourgogne winegrowing region, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and a real differentiator for Bourgogne wines, will be presented in each site, in Chablis, Beaune, and Mâcon.”

This project has won  € 17.1 from BIVB and local authorities.

Next steps:

– To define the economic and legal model for each of the Cité des Vins de Bourgogne;

– To select the architects and exhibition designers for the Cités des Vins in Mâcon and Chablis;

– To work with the city of Beaune on integrating the Cité des Vins into the urban project; and

– To design the museographical model of the whole.

Global Coalition to Protect Wine Place Names Adds 20th Member

The South Australian wine region of Barossa became the latest signatory of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin, a global movement to ensure wine place names are protected and not abused or miscommunicated to consumers. The coalition welcomed Barossa on Friday at a meeting in San Francisco, where members discussed how to build on the coalition’s recent successful effort to protect place names online.

SF Declaration Meeting 28-October-2016.jpg

“Over the last year, our coalition has expanded its work to protect wine place names globally, including online where consumers increasingly shop for the wines they love,” said Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners wine trade association, one of the founding signatories to the Declaration. “We are proud to have another esteemed winemaking region join our collective efforts to ensure consumers aren’t misled and that the identity of a wine’s place is protected.”

In January 2016, American-based Internet name registry Donuts launched the new .wine and .vin domain extensions. Prior to the launch, members of the Declaration worked with Donuts on an agreement that put safeguards in place to ensure the extensions could not be falsely used to mislead consumers. On the heels of this effort, representatives from Barossa attended last week’s coordinating meetings with other Declaration members and will participate in activities that were outlined for the coming year.

“We are honored to join this remarkable group of leading world wine regions dedicated to protecting place names. Barossa wines, like all those represented in this coalition, are unique in representing their sense of place,” said James March, CEO of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association. “Despite our fierce competition in the worldwide marketplace, we all agree that location is the most important ingredient in creating truly unique and distinctive wines.”

Text Box: Members from the Declaration gather around Barossa representative Anne Moroney at a meeting in San Francisco on October 28.Since it was first signed in 2005, the Declaration efforts have led to increasing attention around the protection of wine place names. For example, this year five winery members of the Napa Valley Vintners announced that they are voluntarily giving up use of the name Port on their fortified dessert wine labels. While the producers have the legal right to use the term because they were grandfathered following the signing of the 2006 U.S. and European Commission Wine Trade Agreement, each agreed to abandon use of the semi-generic term in support of Napa Valley’s efforts to protect winemaking place names and its alliance with Porto in the Declaration. 

For more information, visit origins.wine or follow the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.

About the Declaration

The Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place Names & Origin was signed in Napa Valley on July 26, 2005. The signatories of the Declaration include: Barossa, Bordeaux, Bourgogne/Chablis, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Long Island, Napa Valley, Oregon, Paso Robles, Porto, Rioja, Santa Barbara County, Sonoma County, Victoria, Tokaj, Walla Walla Valley, Washington state, Willamette Valley and Western Australia. To lend support and read the full text of the Declaration visit origins.wine.

 

Champagne Announces 2016 Harvest Dates

 

The Champagne region has announced the start dates for the 2016 harvest.  Commencing today (September 12) through to September 26h there will be over 120,000 pickers, porters, loaders and press operators descend on the vineyards of Champagne for the harvest – the moment every winegrower has been waiting for.

Each harvest is different in terms of grape ripeness, potential alcohol levels and natural acidity – so picking the right moment to harvest is essential.

A ripening observation network for the accurate timing of harvests.

Twice a week, just as the grapes start to change colour (véraison), samples are taken from some 450 control plots spread throughout the Champagne area. The selected clusters are then checked for rate of colour change; average weight; estimated sugar and total acidity content; also for any incidence of grey rot.

The results are transmitted the same day via internet, so allowing the Comité Champagne to establish reference values for each parcel of vines, together with mean average values (potential alcohol levels and natural acidity) for each department and grape variety.

A data summary is then notified to the technical officers concerned, starting with the regional heads of the AVC (Association Viticole Champenoise). This enables them to attend the pre-harvest meeting with a very clear idea of when picking should start in their respective communes.

It is the pulp that contains the organoleptic compounds and elements required for effervescence (sugar, acidity, etc); and only pulp alone can deliver the desired clear, pale juice, bearing in mind that 3/4 of Champagne wines are made from black grapes. Pulp extraction is specifically designed to avoid colouring or staining the musts when pressing black-skinned grapes.

Hence the need for manual picking, selecting whole, undamaged clusters that must remain that way right up to the point of pressing itself. The clusters are transported to the press house in purpose-made bins with drainage holes that allow any juice to escape, so preventing the berries from macerating in their own juice.

Manual picking remains the tradition in Champagne – the requirement for whole, undamaged grapes is the same today as it was in the 18th Century.

Pickers have roughly a three-week window in which to work – beyond that point the grapes will be past their best. Just to complicate matters, all Champagne grapes reach their peak of ripeness at about the same time.

Some 120,000 pickers work in teams (‘hordons’ in French) of four per hectare, of which nearly 100,000 are given bed and board by the Winegrowers and Champagne Houses.

Harvesting employs:

  • Pickers
  • Porters (of grape bins)
  • Loaders (of bins)
  • Loaders of bins onto trailers
  • Loading bay handlers
  • Drivers
  • Forklift truck operators
  • Press operators
  • Fermenting room operators
  • And Cooks

Maximum yield per hectare

Yield regulation

  • The harvest base yield fixed by the INAO is 10,400 kg/ha, revisable upwards or downwards depending on the quality and quantity of the yield but capped at 15,500 kg/ha for AOC production.
  • The rationale for capping yields lies in the high-density planting system in Champagne, with vines planted very close together (8,000 per hectare) to improve ripening and therefore quality. Limited juice extraction – just 102 litres of must per 160 kg of grapes – is a key part of this policy and brings the final yield to 66 hectolitres per hectare.

The full list of dates can be viewed here www.champagne.fr