21 September, 2007

Tribute to Thierry

I'd just like to add my own personal tribute to Thierry Cabanne, who was responsible for my joining Thierry's Wine Services as marketing director in 2002.

Never one to boast about his achievements, Thierry commanded affection and respect from all who knew him. He was direct, forthright, and straight-talking - traits which earned the loyalty and trust of producers worldwide, enabling him to build a strong portfolio.

One of the hallmarks of the business was Thierry's insistence on maintaining a family feel, even as it grew to become one of the UK's leading wine importers.

The daily staff lunches were legendary, while birthdays and marriages were a cause for celebration. It was a friendly company, yet one which exacted high standards of ability and commitment from its staff. The team Thierry leaves behind is part of his wonderful legacy, and I wish them all - especially Dominique Vrigneau, his most trusted colleague and friend - bon courage as they come to terms with his tragic loss.

Lynne Whitaker

Ex marketing director of Thierry's

Don't stand for food ban

What a stupid idea to ban merchandising beer and food next to each other, proposed for Scotland.

As the on-trade has been seeking concessions on drink pricing from the off-trade, will the pub industry be volunteering to fall in line with the take-home trade on this issue and stop selling food in pubs?

Will the new law prohibit bar staff from taking drink and food orders at the same time? Will crisps and snacks be banned from pubs? Will table staff be barred from suggesting a wine to go with a particular dish?

Of course not. Because as every sane individual knows, eating with alcohol helps to cut down drunkenness not increase the risks of it.

The whole thing is utterly ridiculous. It's about time the trade stood up to idiot politicians who know nothing about the product we sell and organised a campaign of passive resistance to the new law when it comes in. I'm willing to be carried to a police van by a constable if it means I keep my Doritos in the beer aisle.

Gerry Cosney


Time to unify ID schemes

Congratulations to the Portman Group on dropping its ID card (OLN, Sept 7).

We constantly hear from suppliers about how we need to cut down the number of beers or spirits we ought to sell to increase consumer understanding of the categories the brands compete in - yet the proliferation of me-too brands in the ID market is unrivalled by any alcohol category.

Getting rid of a few of the multitude of ID cards on the market will surely make it clearer to both young people and retailers what exactly the cards represent and cut down on the potential for conflict at the point of sale.

I was amazed to read that there were 18 proof-of-age cards on the market that are all endorsed by PASS.

Surely the Portman card's demise is an opportunity to get all the various schemes together and roll them into a one-size-fits-all scheme that will leave both young people and retailers in no doubt about what form of ID they should be carrying to get served.

Dave Smithfield


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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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