Bodegas Hidalgo – La Gitana and the Carreras de Caballos
Every year, the second and fourth weekends in August see the famous Carreras de Caballos held on the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, so what better excuse to arrange a press trip to Bodegas Hidalgo.
When we arrived on the first day, we met Fermín Hidalgo who took us on a tour of the Doñana National Park, the biggest wetland in Europe. The humidity from the marshlands combines with the cooling sea breeze to create a unique micro-climate to Sanlúcar which ensures the flor in the Bodegas can survive all year round, which is essential to Manzanilla production.
On day two we travelled out to the El Cuadrado vineyard, the highest point in Jerez at an altitude of 110m.
Fermín explained the concept of a double terroir, the first of which starts in the vineyards with the palomino grapes grown on the white limestone Albariza soil and a cooling sea breeze from the Atlantic Ocean.
The second crucial stage in creating the wines comes down to the location and structure of the winery where they are stored and aged, the second “terroir”. When we arrived at the winery in Sanlúcar, Fermín talked to us about the solera system before we tasted the different sherries directly from the casks. Fermín uses a rod with a deep narrow cup attached to the end called a venencia, which is swiftly dipped into the barrels through the flor, before pouring into our waiting glasses without spilling a drop.
That evening we head to the Carreras de Caballos. The origins of the races are unclear, but one story is that fish buyers raced the horses along the beach as they waited for trawlers to bring in their haul to the port. What is known is that a horse racing society was established in Sanlúcar in 1845, creating a tradition that would become a part of the city’s cultural fabric.
The racing takes place along a 1.8km stretch of beach at the mouth of the Río Guadalquivir during the month of August, where racehorses thunder across the sand watched by huge crowds of spectators.
Champagne Bollinger & England Rugby
Sunday 11th August saw the 2019 Rugby World Cup warm up matches kick off with a great game between England and Wales. England were victorious, coming away 33-19, meaning Eddie Jones’ side and put an end to Wales’ 14-match winning streak and giving the England supporters plenty of reason to celebrate in the Champagne Bollinger tent after the match.
A fantastic start for England which puts them in good stead for the next warm up which will take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on the 17th August. This is certain to be a sterner test and the Welsh team will be keen to pull it back to one all before September. England’s warm up matches will continue with a game against Ireland at Twickenham and then against Italy in St James’ Park, Newcastle before the tournament starts proper.
Sadly our team and guests pre-game warm-up was not held in the Cardinal Vaughan Car Park as is the norm but just down the road from the stadium. Guests were treated to Bollinger Special Cuvée on their welcome, after all what match-day experience at Twickenham would be complete without it, along side a range of wines from the Mentzendorff portfolio.
The first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday September 20 with the hosts Japan taking on Russia. England’s first game in the Pool stages will be on the 22nd against Tonga and Eddie Jones’ side will be keen to start as they mean to go on but will face some stiff competition from the team from the South Pacific.
The opening stage of the Rugby World Cup will see 20 teams attempt to battle their way out of four Pools. Each contains five teams with only two advancing into the knockout rounds. England’s Pool is somewhat tricky having been drawn along with Argentina and France. This means at least one upset with one of the tournaments bigger teams set to suffer the ignominy of heading home early. Something England will remember all too well having experienced it at their home World Cup in 2015, the first host nation to ever have done so.
Last week also saw some of the Mentzendorff team travell to Twickenham for the Rugby Players Association Dinner in aid of Try For Change. Try for Change aims to improve the lives of marginalised and disadvantaged people in England and across the world through projects and programmes using rugby and its core values for positive change. As the Official Champagne of England Rugby the evening naturally started with Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée being served on the hallowed turf at Twickenham. A dinner with the England Squad and auction followed which included a special Mathusalem of Special Cuvée signed by the England team with the proceeds going to help continue the great work at Try For Change!
Britain’s Most British Bike Race?
Saturday 3rd August saw Prudential RideLondon host the 2019 Brompton World Championship for the fifth year and once again it managed to capture the spirit of British cycling at its very best!
The race starts on the flag lined Mall with a Le Mans-style dash and entrants frantically unfolding their Brompton’s before taking on the 10 mile circuit around St James’ Park. The riders are all dressed to impress and there is a strict no Lycra policy. While it may just seem like good fun and the embodiment of British eccentricity, down at the start line dormant competitive instincts bubble to the surface and the racing is fast and furious! The Brompton World Championships also features some familiar faces among the cycling community with ex-pro cyclist David Millar and some equally serious competitors and teams in the mix.
Team Bollinger, consisting of Andrew Hawes (138th) and Alan Montague Dennis (209th) from Mentzendorff and Simon Ransom-Tester (124th) of The Champagne Company, put in a fantastic effort in a dramatic final that saw it all. The lucky winners were presented by Jeroboams, Magnums and bottles of Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée (some of which made it off the podium)!
The inimitable Brompton folding bike was designed and built in London by Andrew Ritchie in 1975 in his flat in South Kensington, opposite the Brompton Oratory. Still made in London today, Brompton is now the UK’s largest bike manufacturer with each bike handmade by highly skilled craftsmen and women, many of whom took part in a 236 mile, 3-day ride in June 2018 from London to Champagne Bollinger.
Giro di Toscana Charity Ride Raises £35,000 for The Benevolent
From 24-28 June, members of the Mentzendorff team together with customers and consumers once again donned their lycra for their tenth Charity Ride, dubbed the ‘Giro di Toscana’. Mentzendorff are delighted to announce that the riders have raised a fantastic record sum of £35,000 for The Benevolent Charity.
Led by Mentzendorff Managing Director, Andrew Hawes, the ‘Giro di Toscana’ ride spanned four days and covered over 300km on the famous “Strada Bianchi” gravel roads of Tuscany. If that wasn’t challenge enough, the ride also coincided with the European heatwave which saw temperatures reaching 40°C every day.
Andrew Hawes, Managing Director of Mentzendorff says: “I would like to thank the twelve riders, our support team and our incredible hosts, Ciacci Piccolomini and Fertuna, for their amazing efforts. Thank you also to everyone who has supported us and donated to this great cause.”
Ross Carter, incoming CEO of The Benevolent says: “We are incredibly thankful to Team Mentzendorff for their on-going support of The Benevolent and a huge congratulations for nearly doubling their fundraising target and for doing so in such intense climatic conditions! The impact these funds have on the lives of our colleagues and friends in the drinks industry is significant and we would encourage others to take their lead, don the lycra, swimsuit or even parachute, and follow suit!”
All proceeds from the ride will go to The Benevolent, supporting new initiatives such as “#NotAlone” and “Here to Help” campaigns, targeting mental health issues within the drinks industry.
Mentzendorff has long been a supporter of The Benevolent and the work they do to support the Drinks Industry. The first Mentzendorff Charity Ride commenced in 2005 with a route taking participants from Calais to Champagne to mark the arrival of Champagne Ayala into the Bollinger Family Group (SJB). The theme of Mentzendorff’s charity rides has continued to focus on their family-owned producers. Since 2005, there have been nine Mentzendorff Charity Rides, visiting some stunning winery locations including Bodegas Roda in Rioja, Domaine Chanson in Burgundy, and Taylor’s Port in the Douro Valley. The most recent ride took place in 2015 riding from M. Chapoutier’s base in Tain Hermitage in the Northern Rhône via Mont Ventoux to Colliure on the Spanish border. All ten rides collectively have now raised in excess of £135,000 for The Benevolent.
Mentzendorff’s Just Giving Page will remain open until the end of July. If you would like to make a donation to The Mentzendorff Charity Ride in aid of The Benevolent then you can do so by visiting this link.