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23 March, 2007

A tribute to Gallo

As a wet-behind-the-ears wine trade youngster I got to sit next to Ernest Gallo at lunch in his garden when he very kindly invited Hugh and Judy Johnson and a group of Sunday Times Wine Club members to his home in Modesto.

Hugh was a great admirer of what the Gallos did to make "everyday'"wine in the US so much better than the "ordinaires" we Europeans were then suffering. It was '75 I think. Having just toured the awesome production facilities (the equal of which for breathtakingly bold innovations I have not yet seen to this day ), I asked him how they'd done it. I assumed there must have been takeover after takeover, as was the norm in Britain; lots of high finance clever dealings. "No," he said, "we just started way back and grew our sales a little every year. Never went near any that fancy high finance stuff."

I never forgot that. And they served a wonderful lunch too. Really Italian.

Tony Laithwaite

Tackling fraudsters

I was pleased to see you tackling the difficult issue of fraudulent product in your editorial "D odgy dealings must stop" (OLN Feb 23). This is an issue high up the Wine & Spirit Trade Association agenda.

In particular we are seeing growing concern about levels of fraud which cause price compression in the wholesale and cash and carry markets and ha ve a serious impact on the business of legitimate traders.

We are currently working with Revenue & Customs to provide names of businesses that are suspected of illegal activities. Any readers who have concerns about a specific business can contact us in confidence and we will then take the issue forward with HMRC.

As a result of our work over the past six months a number of HMRC investigations and prosecutions are now under way.

Jeremy Beadles

Chief executive

Wine & Spirit Trade Association




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Talking terroir

When Bordeaux was in fashion, it seemed almost logical that we should fetishise winemakers. Here were people responsible for brilliant acts of blending, across large estates and multiple grape varieties, including superstars such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These days, fashion has moved on and pinot noir is ascendant. As a result, the star of the winemaker has fallen and we find ourselves following a new star in the sky: terroir.

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