National Calvados Week Returns This October


National Calvados Week returns for the sixth time this October as UK bars and restaurants celebrate Calvados Père Magloire and Normandy’s world-renowned apple-based spirit. National Calvados Week runs from Monday 15th October until Sunday 21st October, marking the harvesting of the delicious apples for the production of Calvados.

During National Calvados Week over 100 bars, shops, supermarkets and independent retailers will have specially curated cocktail menus, Père Magloire range tastings, food pairing, and cooking with Calvados, and will be offering the classic serve of Père Magloire and tonic. To reward all pubs, bars and restaurants who participate within National Calvados Week, Emporia Brands, the UK distributor and creator of National Calvados Week, ask that Père Magloire and tonic be promoted to customers, with a complimentary case of tonic to support them.

Creativity is key too, with plenty of inspired serves needed to show off the Normandy spirit through a week-long promotional menu.

> Retailers can sign up by participating in the ‘National Calvados Week Best Retail Display’. By uploading their display to the campaign’s social media pages on Twitter or Facebook, the best display wins the retailer a bottle of the exclusive Père Magloire Memoire for their efforts.

> A bottle of Père Magloire Memoire is also on offer for the ‘NCW Most Creative Cocktail’ which is to be run on their venues’ cocktail menu throughout the week. An image of their creation is to be uploaded to the campaign’s social media pages of Twitter or Facebook where the winner will be announced at the end of the promotional week.

For more information visit

Activities already agreed include:


> Calvados and Cigar matching at Soho Whisky Club, with Hunters and Frankau

> Special calvados drinks menus at Cocktail Trading Company, The Vault at Milroys, Frenchies, Merchant House, South Place Hotel, Trading House, Café Pacifico and others.

> In store tastings at Gerry’s and Hedonism


> Special Calvados drinks menus at Milk (Reading), Wash House (Manchester), Petit Café (Liverpool), Jakes’s Bar (Leeds), Circle Lounge (Halifax), 33 Cank Street (Leicester), Wilderness (Birmingham), Boiler Maker (Nottingham), Jazz Café (Lincoln).


Tasting at Blue Blazer, Edinburgh

> Meet the Maker event at Harry’s Bar

> Calvados Cup and Voodoo Rooms

> Special Calvados drinks menus in Edinburgh at Red Teapot bars, Bullard and Worth, Nightcap, La Petite Mort, Panda & Sons, Hoot the Redeemer, Blue Blazer, Nauticus, Miss Woos and others.

> Pop up menus in Edinburgh at Harry’s Bar and Kin.

> Special Calvados drinks menus in Glasgow at Five March, The Parlour and others.

> Pop up menus in Glasgow at Atlantic, Kelvingrove Café, Porter & Rye AND Finnieston.

The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress Launches ‘Bassano Aperitivo Season’

Mezzoemezzo 1_Low Res

Pop-up innovators Bassano Events and their Manchester venue, The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress located on First Street, are launching a tasting calendar of Italian aperitivo over the next two months.

Focusing on Distilleria Nardini, the namesake of the bar name Bassano with its origins from Bassano del Grappa in Northern Italy, guests will enjoy one of the famous serves originating from the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge distillery, the Mezzoemezzo, itself combined with soda and a twist of lemon. A closer look at the flavour profiles of Nardini Grappa Bianca 40 and a selection of their liqueurs, including the citrus peels of Acqua di Cedro, juniper led Ginepro and the almond profiles of Mandorla.

Each session looks to finish with a refreshing Nardini Ginepro and Tonic, as well as a classic offering of Italian Antipasto courtesy of PizzaExpress.

Each hosted by Dave Marsland, co-owner of Bassano Events and brand agency Drinks Enthusiast, the Bassano Aperitivo Season is said to demystify the Italian spirit category, showing off the tradition of grappa and aperitivo and its versatile use within simple mixers and flavours.

All sessions will be held within The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress, itself opening in June 2017 to bring the modern Italian cocktail bar concept to the North of England after it follows last summer’s successful debut for The Bassano Bar and its winning Italian drinks formula within the busy ‘Magic Roundabout’ venue in London’s Shoreditch.

Offering a selected menu that combines a focus on classic Italian cocktails such as the Negroni with Campari, Aperol Spritz, Nardini Mezzoemezzo and Frizzante Frutta with San Pellegrino, the bar is also including innovative home-grown recipes, with the ‘The Haçienda Sour’ and ‘The Manchester Negroni’ featuring local gin producer, Three Rivers.

Dates of the Bassano Aperitivo Season;

18th August
25th August
31st August
7th September
21st September
28th September

£15 pp – tickets can be purchased in venue or via

General Opening Hours;
Wednesday-Friday from 5pm – 11pm and from 12noon to 11pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress, First Street North, Manchester, M15 4FN



Boutique Tasting at 24 Bar & Grill

A special treat for all you fans of something unique, special and intriguing – a Boutique tasting involving three brands that are making waves in the drinks industry.

Come down to 24 Bar & Grill, boutique in its own right, and experience the French grape style gin of G’Vine and there two expressions of Flouraison and Nouaison as well as Esprit de June, a grape liqueur housed in a fantastic shaped bottle. To cap the night off we’ll have Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli showcased with his very own vodka! The night will also include the choice between two cocktails crafted by myself for your enjoyment.

The date of this unique tasting will be Tuesday 11th December starting at 7:30 and lasting approximately 90 mins.

Tickets are priced at £20 and places are limited so book yourself on today!

To reserve your place, e-mail me at, DM @drinksenthusist or PM on Facebook.

Corks Out Summer Classics Tasting

Last week, Corks Out in Timperley hosted their monthly wine tasting, this time looking at offerings suited for the BBQ summer weather. Hosted by Karim, we were to be delving into Prosecco, three white, a rose and two reds all from various old and new world countries.

So below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Le Dolci Colline Prosecco, Italy – 11.5%

Very fresh, light citrus and lively on the nose that follows onto the palate. Slightly dry to begin with, but flows into a creamy texture with a long tingle of peach and grapefruit.

Nostros Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile – 13%

Rather intense and aromatic on the nose, with grapefruit dominating. A sharp beginning on the palate, with long flavours of grass and fresh green fruits mixing well. Slightly dry and acidic at the end. Goes well with salmon.

Surani Fiano 2010, Italy – 13.5%

Slow, mellow hints of apple on the nose. Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate, but evolves into a rich and slightly sweet ending that is perfect for creamy pasta dishes.

Corks Out Summer Classics

Casa de Mouraz Branco 2008, Portugal – 13.5%

On the nose there are lots of honey and sherry aromas blending well with a sweetness at the end. A bold offering of apricot on the palate that gives a long and intense ride.

Gayda Rose, France – 12.5%

Intense on the nose with lots of fresh strawberries. A mouth-watering flavour of summer fruits hits the palate that continues into a long, fresh finish.

Chateau de Fleurie 2010, France – 13%

A soft cherry and pepper nose evolves into a sharp hit on the palate, but soon softens. A long finish with a slightly dry end.

Explorer Pinot Noir 2009, Chile – 14%

Lots of cherry, chocolate and raspberry flavours on the nose, with a slight gooseberry aroma creeping in at the end. On the palate, a fresh yet heavy dose of vanilla and plum mix well in this offering that is neither short or long.

A fantastic selection was on offer to us all, with Karim explaining well the origins and back-story of each wine. His hints and tips on food pairings and his insight into the correct temperature to enjoy were well received, with many of the group purchasing bottles there and then! I myself passed on the opportunity, but for the sole reason of saving the pennies for when I attend Corks Out next big extravaganza – The Summer Tasting at the Park Royal in Warrington. There will be around 200 wines, spirits and Champagnes on show, so I’m sure to come away with something good!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wines of Austria – Corks Out Tasting

Last Thursday I took part in one of Corks Out monthly wine tasting events, and this month their Timperley store focused on Austria.

Our hosts for the evening were Karim and Alan, two highly knowledgeable gentleman who would guide us through seven different Austrian wines, as well as touching on the history of the wine market in Austria.

So what makes Austrian wine so impressive? Well here’s a little background history to feast upon.

Approximately 1BC, the Romans started extensively planting grape vines after the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus lifted the ban on growing grapes north of the Alps. However soon after the fall of the Roman Empire, viticulture suffered with the invasions of Bavarians, Slavs and Avars, but from 788 the rule of Charlemagne saw considerable reconstruction of vineyards and introduction of new grape presses. In 955, Austrian viticulture was nurtured by the Church and encouraged among the populace at large.The first vineyard names recorded are Kremser Sandgrube in 1208, and Steiner Pfaffenberg in 1230, and Rudolf IV introduced the first wine tax, Ungeld, in 1359, as Vienna established itself as a centre for wine trading on the Danube.

The wine business boomed in the 16th century, but the Thirty Years War and others of the 17th century took their toll, as much due to the heavy taxation of the period as the direct disruption of war. Various drink taxes were unified in 1780, as part of a drive by Maria Theresa and Joseph II to encourage viticulture. An imperial decree of 17 August 1784 gave birth to the distinctive Austrian tradition of inns called Heurigen. Derived from the German for ‘new wine’, the decree allowed all wine makers to sell home-grown food with their wine all year round.

The 19th century saw the arrival of all sorts of biological invaders. First there was powdery mildew and downy mildew. One response to these fungal diseases from North America was the founding in 1860 of what became the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg. Then the phylloxera root aphid arrived in 1872 and wiped out most of the vineyards of central Europe. Although it took several decades for the industry to recover, it allowed lower quality grapes to be replaced with better varieties, particularly Grüner Veltliner. After World War I, Austria was the third biggest wine producer in the world, much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.

However that intensification of viticulture sowed the seeds of its own destruction. During the twentieth century Austrian wine became a high-volume, industrialised business, with much of it being sold in bulk to Germany. A run of favourable years in the early 1980s saw massive yields of wines that were light, dilute and acidic, that nobody wanted. Wine brokers discovered that these wines could be made saleable by the addition of a little diethylene glycol, more commonly found in antifreeze, which imparted sweetness and body to the wine. The adulteration was difficult to detect chemically – the ‘antifreeze scandal’ broke when one of them tried to claim for the cost of the chemical on his tax return.Although the amounts of glycol were less dangerous than the alcohol in the wine, and only a few middlemen were involved, exports collapsed and some countries banned Austrian wine altogether. Strict new regulations restricted yields among other things, most importantly, there was a massive change in the culture of wine production in Austria towards an emphasis on quality, as opposed to the low standards that permitted the scandal to happen in the first place.

The Austrian Wine Marketing Board was created in 1986 as a response to the scandal, and Austria’s membership of the European Union has prompted further revisions of her wine laws. Today Austria lies 17th in the list of wine-producing countries by volume, but the wines are now of a quality that can take on the best in the world.

So with a diverse history in wine making, how would the seven on offer to us compare? Well below I offer you my tasting notes on each –

Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel 2010

Soft, fresh and fruity on the nose with subtle peaches, stone fruits and white pepper. Short on the palate however, but a clean mix of flavours from the peaches and pepper create a refreshing and very drinkable offering with a long finish.

Gruner Veltliner Terrassen Smaragd 2009

Very sweet on the nose with bold aromas of malt, pepper and fruit. A fresh, rich and full-bodied palate with only a slight sweetness and a soft, dry finish. Would be great with a meaty fish dish.

Riesling Reid Loibenberg Smaragd 2007

Only 5 bottles available in the country, and awarded 95% in Wine Spectator. Very light with a deep aroma of citrus, pepper and honey on the nose. A smooth, well-balanced offering on the palate with white pepper and a slight tang which leads to a bone-dry finish that lingers. Very drinkable.

Little J Zweigelt 2007

On the nose it gave off rich, velvet aromas of spice fruit, a touch of oak and light cherry and raspberry fruits. A delicate flavour of cinnamon and fresh fruits on the palate, with a sharp, acidic tone which leads to a lively drinkable offering.

Blauer Zweigelt Terrassen 2009

A clean yet strong aroma of raspberry with a mix of heavy burn sugar and pear drops on the nose. Very dry on the tongue with soft fruit flavours.

Heinrich Burgenland Blaufrankisch

Lively mix of dark fruits, blackcurrant and liquorice on the nose that leads to soft, rich tanning flavours on the palate with lots of liquorice, caramel and hints of vegetable. Would go well with dark cheese, lamb or beef.

Heinrich Burgenland St. Laurent 2009

Fresh cherry, red currant and dark chocolate mix very well with violets and bitter cherry on the nose, whilst a soft palate flavour of cherries and blueberries with notes of bitter chocolate that leads to a very long finish. Serves well with lamb.

A fantastic insight into Austrian wine, something that many in our group had never experienced (myself included) and to have such a variety on offer was fantastic. Highlights include the Heinrich Burgenland St. Laurent and Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel whilst the chance to sample such a rarity in Riesling Reid Loibenberg Smaragd was an honour.

Next on the Corks Out event calendar will be entitled ‘Summer Classics’ where we will try fresh aromatic whites and light easy drinking reds to go with the BBQ summer!

To purchase all of the wines above, check out the Corks Out website.

For more photos of the event, take a look at my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Irish Invasion / St Patrick’s Tastings

I thought this would be an appropriate e-mail to forward to everyone! –
A very quick reminder to you all that The Whisky Lounge have their series of Irish Invasion tastings coming up and starting this Friday! They will be tasting six of the finest from the Emerald Isle, showing off what they can really achieve, rather than some of the more commercial items you might see on Supermarket shelves…
As always the tastings are fun, engaging and full of information and useful (and useless!) facts to arm you as you continue your path to whisky nirvana.
A reminder of dates:
Irish Invasion Tastings, 2012 UK tour
Manchester Friday 16th March, The Britons Protection
Newcastle Saturday 17th March, Blackfriars
York Saturday 17th March, Whisky Lounge HQ (not a misprint, we are a team now and splitting up for Saturday!)
London Monday 19th March, Albannach, Trafalgar Sq.
London Tuesday 20th March, Red Lion, Crown Passage
Leeds Wednesday 21st March, Crosskeys, Water Lane
All of these are only £20 a ticket and I think most of you will agree that you definitely don’t get this much fun and enjoyment for that little anywhere else! All start at 7pm and go onto until 9(ish) and if you need more info – aside from the whiskey (that’s a surprise) – please do drop in on the website at
Many of these are nearly sold out so please be quick to avoid disappointment!
We really hope you can make it to one near you and look forward to seeing you for a night of whisky and craic!