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  • BT Sport Industry Awards 2015

    BT Sport Industry Awards 2015

     Tonight we will see the return of the annual event; the BT Sports Industry Awards, the most prestigious commercial sports awards in Europe and the industry’s flagship event.

    If last year is anything to go by, this black-tie evening will host over 1,750 high profile guests from the British and European Sport Industry with celebrities, sporting legends and business leaders.

    It will honor the year’s most impressive brands, individuals and campaigns, welcoming national sports, entertainment and news broadcasters on the red carpet and hosting dozens of influential figures from the UK Media and VIP guests.

    We are very excited to be supplying the Wine for the evening, on behalf of the official Wine Suppliers and Sporting Legends: Schalk Burger & Sons. We will be supplying 1,600 bottles of Welbedacht Wine to the night, The Welbedacht Pinotage and The Welbedacht Sauvignon Blanc, both produced at Schalk’s Wellington Farm.

     The Welbedacht, meaning ‘well thought out’ range has received many international awards, with the Pinotage winning ABSA Top Ten Wine Award in 2010. Schalk believes this is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of South Africa’s leading export.

     The star-studded night attracts the likes of David Beckham, Michael Johnson, Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello, Haile Gerbselassie, Denise Lewis, Jenson Button, Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Kelly Holmes, Jack Wilshere, Alistair Cook, Peter Cech, Boris Johnson and many many more.

     We are thrilled to be supplying wine to the event and know it will be a night to be remembered!

  • Freedom Day Offer From Charlie The Wine


     We are very honoured and excited at Charlie The Wine to announce that our very own ex-Springbok rugby player and Welbedacht Estate owner Schalk Burger, will be launching his new phase in the UK by sponsoring the Freedom Day celebrations at the South African High Commission in London today. He will be supplying the Welbedacht Chardonnay and Welbedacht Hat Trick Red for the event, produced at his Wellington Farm.

    Freedom Day is a South African public holiday, celebrating freedom and commemorating the first post-apartheid elections held on April 27th 1994 and the event in London will bring together government officials, VIPs and South African businesses and stakeholders. Poignantly the game of rugby became a symbol of this new unity when Nelson Mandela donned a Springbok shirt as South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

    The Welbedacht, meaning ‘well thought out’, range has received many international awards, most notably being the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009 when the Welbedacht Hat Trick took the regional trophy for South Africa’s Best Red Blend.


    And so, to not only celebrate this South African holiday, but these South African wines as well, we are offering you a flash 20% off on the wines being supplied to the embassy today! (see below).


    Welbedacht Chardonnay - £9.20

    Welbedacht Hat Tick - £12.80

    We are looking forward to welcoming Schalk to the UK later this year as he returns to support his son Schalk Burger Jr, who will be a member of the Springbok’s squad competing in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He will also be hosting a series of events with us with a wine and rugby theme and with that in mind we’re very excited for the rest of what 2015 has to offer!

  • In Search Of Inspiration by Simon Halliday

    I am sure that I wasn't the only one left with rather an empty feeling after the third round of this rather sleepy Six Nations Tournament. We had all prepared for a clash of some magnitude at the Stade de France, with the Welsh having to play well beyond their recent form to achieve a result, and the misfiring French would surely show that they still had some attacking bones in their twitching body. Meanwhile, the Scots were surely going to get the win they merited, when they could have had two already. Lastly the possible Grand Slam decider in Dublin was wetting the appetite, with the rather amusing statement from O'Connell that this was a better England side than 2003 - which if you had forgotten, whipped Ireland by 40 points at Lansdowne Road. It was our last Grand Slam and I have rarely seen a home side so ruthlessly put to the sword as happened that dry spring day in our World Cup winning year.

    What was so revealing about the French defeat was the total bewilderment of the coaching staff after the match. St Andre' had responded to pressure by dropping Basteraud only for Lopez to have the sort of game which had us wondering whether Freddie Michalak wasn't so bad after all. Some early attempts to play expansively and creatively foundered on their lack of coordinated approach. Plenty of individual efforts but thats never enough these days - unless its a Jonathon Joseph moment. The reassuringly sizeable presence of Serge Blanco alongside his erstwhile playing colleague, who remember scored one of the great tries at Twickenham in 1991, is the last vestige of support upon which St Andre can lean. A loss against Italy, entirely possible, and a probable thumping at Twickenham will surely lead to change - no bad thing, there should always be a good French team somewhere. They above all depend upon selection and mindset.

    Two wins for Italy will be a great outcome, and I admire their resilience hugely. Its important to have a competitive Italy in the Championship and we should celebrate this. Importantly they have unearthed one or two quality players especially at centre three-quarter.

    Cardiff will be at the middle of this weekends interest. Suddenly the Welsh, who could have thought it, are sensing a Championship if they can win this one, while rampant Ireland know how to win in Wales, look at the history books. Psychologically, a win for the men in red will do wonders for World Cup confidence and they have the quality in the backs, with some welcome return to form by the likes of Halfpenny and Roberts. However I sense the battle will be won and lost up front, because the Welsh were found out against England, and O'Connell will be licking his lips in anticipation, having masterminded the mugging of our pack in Dublin last weekend. I also think that the emergence of Henshaw and Payne in Irelands midfield could be significant. Henshaw in particular has been developing quietly alongside the best halfback pairing in World Rugby at this moment. By World Cup time they could be a differentiating factor, and I look forward to their next step along the way - this will be a test. One thing is for sure, if Ireland get their win in Cardiff , I install them as high as second favourites behind the All Blacks for the World Cup, whom of course they should have beaten last year. Only one problem with that, Ireland have a shocking record in that tournament, and they need to be constant underdogs to perform well. Perhaps Joe Schmidt has effected a psychological change as well - exciting times for the men in Green and its good to see.

    England receive something of a footnote ahead of the Scotland 'clash', a word I hesitate to use for this coming fixture but was highly relevant back in the day. I played seven times against Scotland and every one of them left me battered and bruised, only sometimes victorious. Times have changed, possibly forever given the imbalance of resources. Having said that there is nothing to lose and they can certainly play with the ball now, I like their attacking intent, and Stuart Hogg is the best three-quarter in the Northern Hemisphere. He is outstanding in every facet of the game and England will squeeze him hard.

    I read a piece this week by a senior England player who claimed that they hadn't expected Ireland to play like they did, and were taken by surprise. Added to the fact that we seemed to want to out-Irish the Irish and I am left bemused. Any winning England team in Ireland will tell you that you have to confront the Irish passion, hand it back with interest, and play your own game. My England team meetings and changing room atmosphere were highly charged almost to excess. Mike Teague famously announced one match day that it was payback time, and duly delivered. Many of our backs were more pumped up than the forwards. That's what you need sometimes - England totally missed all this last weekend. I felt after only ten minutes that we weren't in the game.

    Make no mistake, England can record two thumping wins and take the championship.It matters not. We are left knowing that England were unravelled tactically and physically in a game they targetted massively. In ignoring their best talents of the season with the likes of Watson and Joseph getting no ball to speak of, we are left wondering again about playing strategy. Barritt would have returned this weekend but for injury, and the ignoring of Cipriani  in any capacity has confounded everyone. It's clear to me that before too long we will see Farrell, Barritt, Tuilagi back in the frame and that Andy Farrell will have his way on our playing style, backed by two fit worldclass packs  - we will see if thats good enough.Apparently the England boys have been angry and edgy on the training field - not surprised. I expect to see a fractious match on Saturday, England will win very comfortably if they can get ahead after 20 mins - though a slow start is their Achilles heel and if not then Scotland will grow in confidence.

    All the pressure and excitement in Cardiff then, with sideshows at Twickenham and in Rome. I hope for inspiration as well as perspiration - after all, Spring is in the air!

  • England's Bath Boys Run Hot While Others Play For Kicks

    FIRST SIX NATIONS WEEKEND (An Englishman's View) 
    By Simon Halliday



    The countdown to the Rugby World Cup is well underway, but none of the Northern Hemisphere Teams are paying the remotest attention to anything other than the here and now, if we are to believe the comments in the media. Well I hope they acknowledge that last weekend's offering was turgid, dull and unambitious and whatever they say it wont do anything for World Cup Aspirations. We will be hoping this was just a typically cagey start and there will be some characters to emerge as the weeks go by.


    There is one exception to all this, undoubtedly England after the fine result in Cardiff. I was not that surprised, although for unusual reasons, and I will come to that .


    Firstly, why such a downbeat assessment in general? It seems as if the No 10's had one intention, to kick the leather off the ball and it made for grim viewing for spectators, not to mention the wingers who were reduced to frustrated onlookers. I simply did not understand the logic. France was by far the worst offender, and that's with Camille Lopez a very tidy player indeed. They never looked like scoring a try, although some commentators tried to get excited about the tank-like Bastareaud. It was left to Thomas Castaignede, the former visionary French fullback turned pundit, to bemoan the lack of any creativity. He was sad rather than vitriolic, since it has become conventional wisdom now for the French. Enough said, in fact too much already.


    As for Scotland, I maintain that they will surprise someone this year and I like Finn Russell, the new standoff. Despite my comment about the fly halves this weekend, he is the first since Craig Chalmers to show some real attitude and attack the gainline hard as well as having a rock solid defence. Definitely one to watch, he may just spark this increasingly impressive Scottish side who with a little more luck could have turned over the French.


    Regrettably, Italy has gone backwards - where is the team that could have beaten England twice in Rome in recent years? They made 200 tackles against the Irish, which in itself tells a story. But worryingly I couldn't see the inspiration and skill which normal characterises a Roman line-up. Perhaps Sergio Parisse is at last showing the effect of many years of talismanic performances and there is no clear leader in the backs, who haven't scored a try for many months now. So why ever kick the ball under those circumstances ?


    Ireland badly missed Jonny Sexton, as the rest of the back line is workaday and that's a general problem for the team, also when without Healy, O'Brien and Heaslip.They have good continuity and will be very tough to beat for sure with their great ball retention.The England match is so far and away the top clash of this year's Six Nations, and if all their best players are fit, it is the major block for Englands Grand Slam hopes. I also worry about the lack of a world class centre post O’Driscolls retirement.


    Talking of which, didn't we see a great cameo performance from Jonathan Joseph in Englands midfield!? Why have we had to wait so long to see this man play 13 for his country? Interestingly, had it not been for injury he may not have been on the field, nor perhaps Ford, although Farrells injuries have become too much to ignore. Joseph was given a 1-1 opportunity by Ford's well timed pass and he took it, showing you don't need to weigh in at 17 stone to play successful International Rugby in the midfield. I hope he will be given much more front foot ball in the coming weeks and England will look a different team.


    In a curiously low key game, England sucked the life out of a one-dimensional Wales, depriving them of any meaningful second half possession. Their victory could have been more conclusive if they had opened up further, and I predict future results will be. Brown and Watson are complementing each other, the first England try a neat piece of vision and skill. Up front, Haskell was in my view the man of the match, a simply awesome performance which should guarantee his place, closely followed by Attwood making a mockery of being fourth choice in his position. The England management team must now base their attack play around the Bath philosophy, even if it has been foisted upon them.This means that Eastmond should be right on the heels of Burrell.


    I am liking Lancasters good fortune - injuries forced his hand and with our remarkable depth of resource the ensuing combinations he has chosen could well be what England need to lay down a real marker, if they haven’t already.


    As for Wales, we were all taken in by memories of the game two years ago rather than their below par performances of last year which were replicated here.There is no variety in their play, Roberts and Davies have been worked out now, and the two big wingers have been closed down and nullified. What they would give for some of the wit displayed by Ford, Watson and Joseph. These three will get better, while Rhys Webb is for me the only improving Welsh jewel at No 9.


    I am being careful not to make too many early conclusions after only one round, but I am hoping that we will see a significant and necessary improvement in vision from all teams. If not, then the hopes of Wales and France in particular could unravel very swiftly. Meanwhile, England could well mount a cricket score against the Italians if they continue to invest in their talent, with one eye on the big one in Dublin where an expansive attitude will also be critical. The Italy game may be on Valentine's Day but that will be the extent of any romantic notions.


    Finally, I referred to player welfare in my last piece.To see the amateurish medical treatment of a clearly concussed George North filled me with dismay. In full view of the world's cameras, he was allowed to continue at risk to his health, and Wales should be admonished for it by World Rugby. Gatland didn't need to have a degree in medicine to take North off the pitch and keep him there, let alone to defend publicly the decision to allow him to continue. I hope we don't see this again.
  • Wash Away Dry January With Yet More Offers From Charlie The Wine!

    Happy February to All at Charlie The Wine. We hope that you have enjoyed a great start to 2015, Rugby World Cup Year, and if you submitted yourself to a Dry January then hopefully you are embracing February with a renewed thirst for wine drinking.
    Lots of reasons to look forward to a Fun Feb and some quality wine drinking!
    Firstly Hot News Fresh From The Wine Press... 
    The harvest in South Africa is well underway. Chris Mariner and I were out there to taste the 2015 Pinotage with Schalk Burger, only 14 days fermenting and it tastes high quality already. Could be another award winning year. And it helps form the basis of Hat Trick and Cricket Pitch, universally admired - the Hat Trick won the plaudits from none other than Jimmy Anderson and Danny Cipriani on the Clare Balding Show, as well as a cynical Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain! We feel that the Welbedacht and Meerkat brands are all set for a powerful 2015 .The word from their home in Wellington Valley is that Schalk Burger Junior is already flexing his Rugby World Cup muscles as the tournament moves into view.
    Another piece of news - Schalk’s magnificent red blend, the PATRIOT, has just arrived in the UK. What better name to be drinking through the Six Nations campaign with? There will be no shortage of nationalistic pride so this is the one to drink, whatever shirt you support! You need to make contact with Chris or myself for this one. It’s very special and there’s not much of it around!
    In the Hemel-en-Aarden Valley, or the Happy Valley as they call it in Hermanus, the grapes are waiting to be picked, due to the windier, cooler climate, which also differentiates the wine. Attending a Global Pinot Noir festival may have been bad for the liver, but great for the palate! We were guests of Simon and Holly Turner, who own the lovely Sumaridge Estate. Their Pinot Noir stands scrutiny to the world's best, as acknowledged universally. You have to get involved here.
    We also tasted their wonderful Wayfarer Sparkling Rose. Even if you’re not looking for a chill to offset the African heat, it’s surely a classic for upcoming Valentine’s Day on the 14th. To encourage you, how about 15% off a case or any part thereof, normally priced at £14… that will impress a loved one! 
    But don't forget the 14th is the same day England play Italy in the Six Nations - we won't be looking for too much romance on the rugby field but off it, you can indulge yourself. Searching through our extensive Italian Selection we like the look of Gavi de Gavi  Bianco (intense and simultaneously delicate) at £15.49 or the Prosecco Spumante (wild apple and honey) at £12.99. But to any buyers, subtract 15% and its yours, mixed cases or no. Italy’s best may not defeat England, but the wine and Prosecco are a Roman delight.
    Other 15% Discounts for February 14th and beyond are the award winning  Sumaridge Merlot Rose' (normally £12.99) or the Mon Rene Brut MCC (normally £13.99) a stunning sparkling bubbly from Schalk ,it's named after his daughter Rene.
    This should get you through Valentine’s Day and set you up for a fun Feb, washing away the Winter Blues!
    We would like you to sign up to our newsletter, and here’s why. To those that do, there will be offers galore to suit the month, the Sporting Calendar and anything else interesting in the World of Wine.
    Those who Subscribe and Buy Wine with us will have access to everything from Rugby Tickets to Signed Shirts, Sporting Memorabilia and the opportunity to meet Rugby and other Sports Stars.
    I shall also, in the future be publishing my Rugby 'Blog' on this website which, as the Six Nations, European Cups and Rugby World Cup approach will, I hope, be interesting to you.
    We also plan a holiday related initiative - now that has to get people interested!
    You will be automatically linked to the Rugby Business Network, which supports closer links between Rugby Players and Business which is so important in a professional world. We have struck a deal with them whereby we donate a percentage of wine profits to their Life After Rugby programme. It's a great cause and we hope you will support it.

    Thats enough for now - but as ever, we would love to hear from you!

  • Wasted In Essex

    WOW! What a weekend, while most of us here at Charlie The Wine were glued to our television sets watching the first weekend of this year's 6 Nations, everyone's favourite wine man dragged himself away and set about Educating Essex...

    So off I went, to the lovely home of Julian and Laura Blake atop Woodbury Hill near Loughton in Essex, for a tasting to the members of the Wasters Wine Society. Formed over 20 years ago, this enthusiastic group of knowledgeable wine drinkers meet 6 times a year to taste wines from all the top wine growing regions in the world They are some 60 in number and have a Master of Wine in their midst, so no pressure then!

    We tasted 8 wines, mostly from our very own Welbedacht Estate in the Western Cape of South Africa.
    Starting with a glass of MON RENE, we moved through the gears before finishing with a glass of our award winning MARABINO MOSCATO.

    The star of the show was the WELBEDACHT PINOTAGE followed by the BOHEMIAN SYRAH.

    I was really put to the test by this knowledgeable, but friendly bunch. What a great evening!

    Forever Thirsty,

  • All Hail The End Of Another Dry January...

    It's always worth making the Journey.

    Armed with a spade, rug and hot soup our Intrepid Wine-Man set off for the North East.

    A three hour jouney turned into five hour one but luckily upon my arrival I was warmly greeted by the Lowdon Family in the beautiful village of Coatbridge, 14 miles east of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

    Luckily Graeme & Wendy’s 12 year old daughter Abby came to my rescue and became my PA for the evening, producing tasting sheets in minutes much to my relief!

    The 16 guests sniffed and sipped their way through 8 wines before universally deciding that The Argentian Torrontes and The Amalia Tempranillo hit the high notes, even if they didn't identify them correctly. Amongst the guests was Multi Championship Medalist Athlete Steve Cram, representing COCO, the international children’s charity that we were supporting. Recently returned from Kenya where the wine was best left alone, he enjoyed all the wines on offer but picked out the Gauchezco Malbec as his fave.

    Fabulous friendly people, good food, great wine and a snow free journey made for a complete evening!

    Bubbles for the Ladies of Liverpool

    Saturday night was Bubbles Night for the ladies and their mates in the posh Liverpool suburb of Aigburth.

    Graham and Jenny Bonner used their Wine Tasting as a birthday present for their daughter Emily, 25 and her 15 friends . I challenged them with three very different styles of Sparkling Wine to see if they could guess which wine was which .The ladies tasted the Pinot Noir Gauzecho, the Prosecco Nero Brut and the Champagne Autreau Non Vintage, the jury was out as each wine was assessed for quality and value for money...

    The Prosecco came out on top as Number 1 choice on the night although the Sparkling Pinot and the Champers were much enjoyed. It was only when the labels and prices were revealed that the challenge became apparent: we tend to drink on labels and price points rather than trust our judgement.

    We also tasted 2 Sauvignon Blancs from different continents and 2 roses. A great learning curve and a real lesson to us all that the we need to get tasting more wines to find our favourite tipple… so keep sampling!

    Back to London!

    To London again, 14 hungry young execs from the fast moving world of sports sponsorship, a gift from their boss. Straight from work, this thirsty lot made real headway whilst asking lots of pertinent questions, they knew a lot more about wine than they were letting on!

    The quiz was won by Miranda (pictured with me) with a very respectable score of 9 out of 16.

    There was no stand out favourites but the Argentinian Malbec and the Finca Amalia Tempranillo scored highest!

    Everybody enjoyed the fact that they went away knowing just a little more than they did when they started, just the way we like it at Charlie the Wine!

    Forever thirsty,


  • Charlie the Wine is BACK!

    Hi Everyone!
    CHARLIE THE WINE IS BACK! (and with a Cracking Christmas Offer for you!)
    We hope you haven't missed us too much, we had to take down the website
    for a while in order to upgrade the portfolio and make sure that we were
    the best that we could be. So now we're back, better than ever and ready
    to go! Just as well with Christmas around the corner...
    Now sit back, relax and let us tell you a little more about Charlie the
    Wine and our culture...
    So the more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there is a
    very sporty feel to Charlie The Wine, not least of all because of our unique
    portfolio of South African Vintages centred around the Welbedacht and
    Sumaridge Estates. It may not have escaped your notice that the
    Springboks got the better of England at Twickenham recently with Schalk Burger as
    man of the match! Schalk's family are responsible for the Meerkat and
    Welbedacht range of vintages and they're based in idyllic Wellington, 40
    minutes North of Cape Town. This region is increasingly being recognised
    (not just by us - we promise!) as the place to make wine, even more so
    than the more traditional Stellenbosch and Franschoek Vine Yards.
    Among some scintillating and differentiated offerings,they produce a
    wonderful couple of Red Blends, known to their friends as the Hat Trick
    and Cricket Pitch, in recognition of the fact that these grapes are
    situated right next door to Schalk's cricket Oval, said to be of Test
    Match standard although I am yet to play there! What are of Test Match
    standard however are the wines, decided only recently by none other than
    Jimmy Anderson, England's best cricketer, on National Television.
    A little further South-East, you find Hermanus, of whale watching fame
    and home to Bob Skinstad, the legendary former Springbok No 8 and to the
    Sumaridge Estate. The Maritimus and Epitome Vintages produced here are
    particularly fantastic, but there are many more besides. We are truly
    So the other big news at Charlie the Wine HQ is that we are linking up
    with The Rugby Business Network and will be supplying wine to their
    members. This organisation brings together Rugby and Business People to
    explore ways in which they can work together both mid and post career -
    this is a much needed initiative and we are passionate in our support!
    Now (just to keep you in the loop) Bob runs their South African operations
    so that's how that happened and it all links in rather nicely.
    But just in case you think this is all about the Rainbow Nation, let me
    put your mind at ease, we also control a global portfolio of selected
    brands, many of course from Rugby Playing Nations. We have even found a
    couple of lovely English Sparkling Wines , which are all the rage. As an
    optimistic Ex-England Rugby International, I need to have some patriotic
    blends in the mix!
    Best Wishes!
  • Hardy and the Caterham Clowns

    Down to leafy Surrey to hold a wine tasting for Alan and Alison Wilson, with 12 good friends all hand chosen for their ability to drink the stuff but not knowing much about it. A perfect combination!

    As the guests sniffed and slurped, Hardy the family Great Dane did his best to get in on the act .Not content to sit in his basket, he tried to join in. He's a big lad our Hardy  with a penchant for a glass of Rose as it turned out.

    The winner with a score of nine was Richard De Leyser with a score of 9 out of 16....not bad but then he did listen to my pearls of wisdom. The favourite wine of the evening turned out to be the Cotes du Ventoux from the Rhone Valley and the Argentinian Torrontes white  If only Hardy could speak, I'm sure he would have gone for the Sumaridge Rose...........well there's nothing like a Dane or so they say!

    Forever thirsty

  • The Times they are a changing

    It's been nearly 5 years since I did a tasting at the swanky RBS offices in Manchester's Spinningfields, but Dave Meredith the,host for the night,remembered me from the from those heady days before the crash. 40 folk, a good mixture of staff and guests mixed and mingled whilst trying to unravel the mysteries of a blind tasting.they all seemed to be of one accord that we all make our buying decisions based on price and what the label looks like.

    That is the Fun of a blind wine Tasting,  not only does it get you thinking but it challenges our perception of what is a good bottle and what is not!

    Well all the wines passed the acid test. The Sidewood shiraz and the Argentinian Torrontes (again) were the most popular.

    I left them with a drop of The Marabino Moscato, our Decanter award winning wine, at £23 a bottle it is a serious wine, but they all loved it, in fact one fellow bought a case on the night! It all goes to show that you have to taste the stuff and have the confidence to trust your judgement when buying wine   ............. with a bit of a nudge from an expert!

    They seemed to like me enough to invite me back next the times they are a changing!

    Forever Thirsty

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