Musty Bunches - Tales from the Spit Bucket
Musty is sorry she did not get to meet more of you at London's wine show last week, but the charms of chachaca's male rumba dancers really did require thorough investigation, particularly when placed, as they were, next to a free cocktail bar. Nevertheless, she has been busy this month and brings you tales of holy quests from Southern France, dastardly crimes in Canada and Australia's world famous flying beer doctors.Having survived the par-boiled rugby scrum that is the London International Wine and Spirits Fair (catchy title, chaps), her readers find Musty in smug mood this month. Particularly since she knows she will never again have to put up with Earls Court Olympia. Yes, that's right, as of next year, the UK's biggest gathering of professionally sanctioned dipsomaniacs will take place in that hotbed of European activity... Docklands.
Since the East End suburb has all the charm of a Moscow ghetto, Musty has some sympathy with those who think that Hitler's Luftwaffe were right to raze the area to the ground 60 years ago. But nevertheless the Fair is right to make the trek from chi-chi west to grotty east. Why? Well, however much Musty enjoys watching overheated Uruguayans fall asleep over their afternoon sandwich, holding a booze trade fair in, effectively, a giant greenhouse, must rank alongside the election of Dubya for All Time Bad Ideas.
Although, having said that, perhaps the buyers like the Greenhouse Effect. After all, given that even the finest wines taste like Jacobs Creek once the temperature climbs to three figures, it must be pretty easy to drive prices down and get a real steal for your supermarket.
Not all the exhibitors will be happy about the move across London, though. The East End may be on the rise, but still, Musty is reliably informed, compared to Fulham the standard of call girls is just terrible.
This year's LIWSF saw the inauguration of The E-zone. This wasn't, as group after group of disappointed Oddbins managers found out, an area to come and sample the delights of hallucinogenic drugs, but a gathering of internet booze exhibitors.
'The E-zone?' said one let-down journalist darkly. 'More like bloody death row.'
Talking of death row, Musty was sorry to hear of Mondavi's withdrawal from the Languedoc - if for no other reason than it would have done the local peasantry good to mix with people who've travelled further than the nearest village and don't sleep with their sisters.
Anyway, the Americans have taken their rejection by the local council in good heart and issued a not-pissed-off-at-all press release to the world's press to illustrate their magnanimity. It said: "While we continue to believe in the value and integrity of our proposal… we can only be successful in cross-cultural business endeavours when we work in complete partnership with members of the local community."
In other words, Brave Sir Robert was thwarted in his quest for the holy grape by an evil French tyrant, defending his chateau with Gallic stubbornness.
Musty called the chippy French mayor in question for his reaction, but he said only "You silly English journalist type, with your tippy-tappy keyboard. What do you know about wine, you empty headed animal food-trough watteurrr. I blow my nose in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries."
Meanwhile, from across the other side of the world, word reaches Musty's shell-likes of a heartening tale of strength in adversity. Earlier this year, Burketown in Queensland, Australia was cut off following several months of torrential rain that flooded the access roads. Showing a commendable level-headedness, the locals didn't panic. Until, that is, the beer supplies started to run low and then disappeared altogether. Truly it was a desperate plight as the latter-day Robinson Crusoes were reduced to drinking (horror of horrors) wine and rum.
Three cheers, then, for the local brewers who managed to turn a local tragedy into a great PR opportunity and air-lifted in 130 cartons of emergency beer.
Most of which, in Musty's experience, probably tasted exactly the same as the flood-waters raging nearby.
Cast your mind back to February. A warehouse in downtown Montreal. A security guard on his watch. It's cold - damn cold. Freezing breath in the air. Suddenly, a spot-light shines in the guard's face. He's taken out the back and tied up and five masked men make off with almost $1m of spirits from the Seagram store.
Police are apparently no nearer to solving the crime, and far be it from Musty Marple to tell them how to do their job. But she would like merely to make the observation that Allied Domecq were known to have an interest in the Seagram spirits, and to harbour a grudge that they didn't get them.
Has anyone, she wonders, checked out Philip Bowman's alibi on the night in question?
Meanwhile, best quote of recent months goes to a nameless spokesperson for Allied Domecq. Now that it's sunk in that they didn't get any of the Seagram corpse to feast on, do they feel any sense of panic or disappointment, Musty asked?
"Best thing that could have happened," said spokesperson. "The tail on that portfolio was enormous."
Pot… kettle… black… anyone?
As Pernod Ricard, Allied Domecq and Fortune Brands close in on the biggest drinks industry deal since the sale of Seagram, opinion about how the deal will be structured and who stands to win and lose ...
Cautious optimism is probably the best way to describe today's press reaction to Pernod's friendly bid for Allied Domecq....
Spirits firm Allied Domecq has agreed to a takeover bid from smaller rival Pernod Ricard, subject to agreement from Allied shareholders....
Allied Domecq last night accepted Pernod Ricard's offer to buy the UK-based drinks giant....
Allied Domecq today delivered a 7% increase in first half group profits before tax to £285m. Earnings per share were up 7% to 19.2p, turnover that was flat at £1,700m....
Drinks producer and distributor Todhunter International has said that its controlling shareholder, CL Financial, is interested in acquiring some of the brands of Allied Domecq that may become availabl...
Pernod Ricard has had its rating raised....
Allied Domecq has added a new flavour to its Malibu range. The company said yesterday that it would be launching Malibu Passion Fruit in the US from April 15....
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