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01 December 2008

Wine fairs, tastings, events & special offers November-December: UK and France

A wide-ranging pre-festive round-up of winey things going on and Christmas offers, which will probably be updated over the next few weeks...
Alternative gift ideas perhaps: the Wine Society is offering a £20 credit with any new membership up until 31st December. A share in one of the UK's oldest, 'mutual' mail-order wine companies usually costs £40: there's no annual fee and anyone can join. More info at thewinesociety.com. They've also launched an own-label red from South Africa, The Society’s Pinotage, sourced from Robertson region in the Western Cape and made by family-run Bon Cap Organic Wines: click here for my review and notes.
Another idea is a gift subscription to winetravelguides.com: prices go from £7.50 (about US$12) up to the full monty Gold Gift Subscription (£49 or US$80), which gives you full access to all travel guides on the site. Meaning no less than 46 'micro-regions' in France with 7 new guides coming on stream over the next couple of months - Mosel, Germany; Rioja, Spain; and Tuscany, Italy. Vouchers can be emailed directly to the recipient, or you can print it out or forward it yourself. By the way, a subscription discount code is still valid that can also be used for gifts. To find it, check out WTG publisher Wink Lorch's personal blog or "look out for our Wine Travel Guides Blog coming to the website very soon!" says Wink.
On-line wine merchant FromVineyardsDirect.com brings you the 'Hard Times Case': apparently the "perfect credit-crunch beating Christmas gift." This actually quite posh selection of French wines includes two "de-frocked" Cru Classé reds and "a bound Everyman's edition of Dickens' Hard Times," priced at £122.
French Winegrowers Fair takes place from 21-23 November at the Barbican Exhibition Centre in central London. Visitors can buy and print out a half-price admission voucher, £10 instead of £20 door price, from their website: www.frenchwinegrowersfair.com.
Decanter Fine Wine Encounter over the weekend of 22 & 23 November, London's glitziest annual wine show featuring top samplings and producer masterclass tastings. Book your tickets from www.decanter.com.
On a more local scale ("for local people"), Wokingham Wine Festival rolls out over the weekend of 6-7 December. This event is in aid of charity, with ticket proceeds going to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and is organised by ASDW (Association of Small Direct Wine merchants) including Nick Dobson Wines, Leon Stolarski Fine Wines and Amordivino. More info at: www.wokinghamwinefestival.co.uk.
Bistrot du Sommelier, Paris: "Les vendredis du Vigneron season 4" continues on Fridays at Philippe Faure-Brac's celebrated wine bar/restaurant. 28th November: Jean-Luc Aegerter from Maison Aegerter, Burgundy. 5th December: Xavier de Rozières from leading Corbières estate Château de Lastours. 12th December Champagne Perrier-Jouet dinner. Tasting and three-course lunch costs €45 or five-course dinner with five matched wines for €70, except the Champers bash €100. Info and booking at www.bistrotdusommelier.com or phone (+33) (0)1 42 65 24 85.
The Ronde des Cépages 2008 takes place this Sunday 30th November (also St. Andrews Day in Scotland, by the way) in the village of Bizanet, in the northern Corbières (not far from Narbonne). Expect wine tastings, music and a Christmas food market. More info: phone +33 (0)4 68 58 17 42 or bizanet.net.
Nuit des treize desserts Rasteau (night of 13 desserts) Sat. 13th December. A kind of pudding crawl around Rasteau (pretty village in the southern Rhone Valley), hopefully including a little taster of their Port-like red made from Grenache. Cost = 26 euros (15 for under-twelves, presumably not including wine!) for the first 1000 people to book with Terres de Lumière. Phone 04 90 46 18 73 or via terres-de-lumière.com. Local wine info from rasteau.com.
Continuing the dessert theme, there's a "Divin chocolat en noir et blanc" exhibition throughout December at Loire Valley winery Ackerman - Rémy Pannier (13 rue Léopold Palustre, Saint Hilaire-Saint Florent, 49412 Saumur). The theme: discovery for beginners of food, wine & chocolate matching. For youngsters, there's a grape and cocoa taste & smell showcase. Admission: €2 or free for under 18s. Check it out on www.ackerman-remypannier.com.
In the Côtes du Ventoux wine region, a Christmas truffle tasting takes place on Sat. 20th December at TerraVentoux co-op wine cellar from 11am-1pm. Truffle farmer Eric Jaumard will talk about black truffles tasted with TerraVentoux's wines. Contact Jean-Marc Thibaut on 04 90 61 79 47 or magasin1@cave-terraventoux.com.
Other seasonal things to do: New Year's Eve grape picking in the Southwest, see www.plaimont.com; "L’art du goût, le goût de l’art" 3-14 December sponsored by Malbec from Cahors: www.frenchmalbec.com.

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