PROJECT FRONT FOOT NEWSLETTER: 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

It’s a case of circumstances dictating this month’s project newsletter. The next couple of weeks are set to be a tad frenetic what with a return to the UK (I’m currently in Berlin), our Sort & Pack Day for India + more kit set for Afghan refugees in France. And to top it off, an evening flight to Mumbai on 27 September.

The attached issue – (mercifully) short on text, big on pictures – marks the tenth anniversary of PFF. An incredibly difficult task trying to choose a page of images for each season from an archive of around 5,000! There’ll be many more too during October. To follow PFF’s daily Facebook pictures and postings from Mumbai and beyond simply click on the following link: http://www.facebook.com/projectfrontfoot/.

Tally ho!

Vic”

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: AUGUST NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

A tad early this month with the newsletter on account of a return to Mumbai exactly five weeks today. Hopefully it’ll have stopped raining by then. It also marks (where did that go?) the tenth! anniversary of our work with the Dharavi slum kids and beyond.

With little coming out of Mumbai this month attention has focused on the UK and our various kit collection road trips. The summer appeal brought another huge swag of clothing and equipment enabling us (although a little too late to make this newsletter) to indulge in a spot more Brexit-busting.

To this end, several bags of kit will be heading to France in late September to support a club comprised entirely of Afghan refugees. So as the country heads one way, PFF, as with much of the past ten years, will be travelling in the other! Long may it continue.

Cheers

Vic”

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Abigail Connolly on wine tasting and mansplaining

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“Men are surprised I know about wine”, says Birmingham-based sommelier Abigail Connolly.

Listen to Abigail here.

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Hardy Rodenstock RIP (-off)

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W. Blake Gray has published something on the notorious and recently deceased Hardy Rodenstock, “a prolific wine counterfeiter who operated with impunity for two decades”.

Thanks to Blake for interviewing me (by email).

I pondered the parallels between Rodenstock and Kurniawan.

First, there is the emergence from nowhere to eminence in fine wine circles. The back story, if there was one, was nebulous. Neither of them were known by their given names but instead by assumed names.

The source of their apparent wealth was not obvious. In Rodenstock’s case, it apparently included a Taiwanese company that packaged walnuts stuffed with a condom, which he then made gifts of to guests at his tastings.

There was the seemingly miraculous ability to source wines from “secret” or “magic” cellars. Questions about provenance were met with contradictions and deviousness.

Somebody told me recently, “Hardy’s business was far more lucrative than Rudy’s. I had the opportunity to view a small sampling of their bank records. Hardy was a super nova (sic) and Rudy was a comet. The former operated for more than four decades; the latter six years… For some strange reason, collectors loved his notoriety. He would hold four tastings at the Hafemklub (sic – he meant Hafen-Klub) in Hamburg every year at 2000 Euros a head even after the media published articles about him in the mid 2000s. And they came in droves.”

The similarities show that Kurniawan was not inevitable. Without Rodenstock, there is no Kurniawan.

I corresponded with Rodenstock by fax in 2006 after Bill Koch had filed a civil complaint against Rodenstock in a New York federal court. (I was writing about it for The World of Fine Wine, where I then worked.)

My recollection of his fax’s content is that he was belligerently defensive in broken English. That’s as close as I got to him…

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: JULY NEWSLETTER

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A message from Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

Overnight rain here in deepest Berkshire. Glory be. By way of balance, they are having the odd shower in Mumbai right now. Indeed, at one point I thought of calling the attached July newsletter our Monsoon Special. Reason prevailed in the end, but it remains a seriously damp edition.

So a little light, if slightly soggy, weekend reading as we prepare for the busiest week in the project’s summer. Next Friday’s road trip will take us first to Lincoln and on the following day to Headingley and Old Trafford before the hack back to base camp with a swag of kit.

Cheers

Vic”

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What we did in Mayfair on Monday…

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Nicole Rolet, our guest speaker at Monday’s Fine Wine Business Network event, was magnificent.

​​Nicole spoke about her multicultural background; her time as a New York singleton (Sex and the City…?); her banking career; how she met her husband Xavier; and how she has built the Chêne Bleu brand to where it is today​.

Listen to her talking to the FWBN guests by downloading the attached file.

Thanks again to Nicole for being such a great speaker (and pourer).

 

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What Ol’ Blue Eyes and Deano drank

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I came across a reproduction of the Copa Room’s wine list at The Sands hotel in Las Vegas during Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin’s performances there.

Some of the American wines’ names – “Gamay Beaujolais” and “Dry Sauterne” (sic) – would not be permitted now.

The list also helpfully points out the “imported” wines.

The “fifth” and “tenth” serving measures I guess equate to 150ml and 75ml respectively.

The imported wines are more expensive than the native wines, with the exception of Soave Bolla, which costs the same as the least expensive American wines here.

At $10 per fifth, Blue Nun “spaetlese” costs more than Pommard or Chablis.

The most expensive wine pro rata is a magnum of “Dom Pérignon Vintage” – though the year is not stated.

The only wine for which a vintage is stated is “Château Lafite Rothschild (1961)”, which shows that even in its early days its quality was renowned.

Many sources state 1959 as the date of this menu but that cannot be possible if it includes Lafite 1961. There are images of Ol’ Blue Eyes and Deano performing together in 1964, which fits the Lafite listing.

#VinsExtraordinaires #FineWine #London #Mayfair #BrookStreet #FrankSinatra #DeanMartin #OlBlueEyes #SandsHotel #Copa #LasVegas

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Dodgy Jacob’s Creek – be careful out there…

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I’m not normally interested in Jacob’s Creek – it ain’t fine wine – but this case caught my attention.

Have a look at the grape varieties printed above the delicious-sounding “fresh grapefruit, lemon and passionfruit flavours”.

This misspelled forgery was found by Sussex police in a Brighton off-licence.

The problem with fakes and forgeries isn’t just Pétrus and DRC and other highly-priced fine wines.

The greater part of the “market” for fraudulent wines is at this very commercial level where public scrutiny is very low. The vast drinks conglomerate Pernod Ricard (which owns Jacob’s Creek) has taken steps to prevent counterfeiting in China by introducing “scannable bottles” with a QR code to help consumers identify potential forgeries. But this is only for spirits and not for wines.

Alas, they haven’t yet been able to prevent dodgy Jacob’s Creek being sold by unscrupulous – or just poorly informed – wine retailers in London-on-Sea.

#VinsExtraordinaires
#JacobsCreek
#PernodRicard
#FineWine
#Mayfair
#London
#Brighton
#GenuineFakes

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: JUNE NEWSLETTER

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

It’s Rain Stopped Play in Mumbai right now. And for the next three months! The south-western monsoon and all that. So a slightly earlier than usual newsletter.

Back in Blighty, meanwhile, we simmer gently on a low heat, score nearly 500 in 50 overs, and prepare to collect kit. Mad dogs and Englishmen?

Cheers

Vic” 

 

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