Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Value the theme @ Aldi

Aldi store
Aldi store @Penge, South London 

On Wednesday 6th March I attended my first Aldi tasting. Due to either other commitments or by being out of the UK at the time I had had to turn down previous invitations. Equally, apart from buying a French tricolour wig in the Aldi store in Bléré (Indre et Loire) for a friend's retirement party. This hasn't really been down to personal preference but instead due to geographically dominance of Sainsbury's in the Forest Hill/ East Dulwich/ Crystal Palace area of South London. Apart from a couple of small Tesco convenience stores, there is only one neighbourhood supermarket from which to choose.

My closest Sainsbury's is less than a kilometre away – an easy walk away taking no more than 10 minutes. In contrast my nearest Aldi is over three kilometres away. No contest!

Anyway back to that Wednesday's tasting, which underlined Aldi's great attraction – value. I have never attended a supermarket tasting where my most used comment was 'value'!

Crémant de Loire
The tasting started on a high with the crisp and clean Crémant de Loire Blanc de Loire NV (£7.99) from Grands Chais de France made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Offering very good value at £7.99 given that the UK has a high excise regime – £2.86 per 75 cl for sparkling wine plus VAT @20% making £3.14 total tax before you start. Duty on still wine is slightly lower £2.23 per 75 cl – totalling £2.67 inc VAT.

Organic Prosecco
Planeta Organico Prosecco NV

Crisp but soft organic Prosecco thankfully less sweet than many other examples of this popular fizz. 100% Glera grapes and well priced at £7.99.

Prum Riesling 

 Prum Mosel Riesling 2018

This Mosel Riesling won't be available until June 3rd. In anticipation it has attractive crisp texture with a streak of lime, well balanced and at £5.99 is a good value apéro.

Picpoul de PinetJPG.JPG
Exquisite Collection Picpoul de Pinet 2018

Picpoul de Pinet is enjoying considerable popularity over here. This lightly floral example with some complexity and length is fair value at £6.49 and will be available from 18th March.

Exquisite Collection is Aldi's name for their superior products aping Tesco Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference.

Lyme Block
Exquisite Collection Lyme Block English Wine 2018

Lyme Block BL.JPG

It would be nice to be positive about English still white wine. Sadly this raw and tart example shows all too clearly why it is UK sparkling wines that are winning the plaudits. Awful value at £9.99 a bottle – easily the worst value from the wines I tasted here and 2018 was a hot vintage!

Beaujolais Villages 2018

Lovely juicy, ripe red fruits – surely delicious drinking and excellent value at £5.99 from the very good 2018 vintage. Will be available from 18th March. Tempted to buy a few bottles myself – might just alleviate the agony of Brexit.....!!

Gym Dao
'Gym' Dâo Red 2017

Good to see some Portuguese wines making an appearance here. This one is attractively soft and juicy. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alfrocheiro it is easy on the pocket at £5.69.

Primanero Organic Primitivo 2016

Bricky coloured, sweet ripe fruit from Puglia – 100% Primitivo. At £7.99 underlining the interest and value that can be found in Puglia.

Moulins de Citran, Haut-Médoc 2009

A Bordeaux with some age and showing evolution a little two-dimensional but with good length and offering good value for a Bordeaux with 10 years of age.


Guardian article

Lengthy Guardian article on Aldi – its history and its progress in the UK.

Given the increasing importance of the discount sector in the UK I was surprised that there was such a thin attendance at this Press tasting – perhaps more journalists turned up later in the day.


Sunday, 3 March 2019

RAW London 2019: 10th and 11th March

From the website:

'Meet the growers & makers.
Join us for a two-day celebration of some of the best wine talent in the world. Featuring over 150 growers, RAW WINE is one of the most exciting collections of fine, natural, organic and biodynamic wine artisans to come together in this fine capital. Their wines are pure, kind to the planet, very possibly better for your health and best of all they’re absolutely delicious.

RAW WINE is leading the charge for transparency. We believe that in an ideal wine world, any processing and additives will be clearly communicated to the drinker so that you know exactly what is in your glass. RAW WINE is a first step in this direction – we will clearly list all additives and processing on both the website and fair catalogue. We are proud to be leading the way.

RAW WINE is committed to empowering all wine drinkers through real, informed choice. RAW WINE is unprocessed. It is about truth, authenticity and frank wine talking, but most of all it’s about showcasing really good wine.

Showcasing mastery.
All the artisans who attend the fair produce fine, natural, biodynamic or organic wine with low intervention in the cellar. Their wines are authentic and a true representation of where they are from, and they are delicious.

Visiting the fair.
RAW WINE London welcomes the wine and food trade, the press and the general public. The fair is held at The Store X, 180 The Strand (London WC2R 1EA), a 3-minute walk from Temple (tube stop) and 9-minute walk from both Covent Garden and Holborn tubes.

Ticket prices: 

Public: £45 for single day – either Sunday or Monday. £75 for the two days
Trade: £15 for single day – either Sunday or Monday. £30 for the two days
Press: Free pass on application if approved.

More details here

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Pierre Couly: RIP

Pierre Couly at the Salon des Vins de Loire 2014

Very sad news Pierre Couly, a leading figure in Chinon and its wine has died at the age of 83. Pierre died suddenly overnight. Details here…/pierre-couly-est-mort and an obituary here. With his younger brother Jacques, who died in March 2016, Pierre ran Couly-Dutheil for many years until the bitter family schism, which led Pierre and his son Bertrand to set up their own domaine – Pierre et Bertrand Couly

Although both Couly-Dutheil and Domaine Pierre et Bertrand Couly made good wine, it was very sad to see such a bitter family fall-out. 

Pierre was a gentleman, was always friendly and welcoming. He will be greatly missed through the Loire as the reaction to posts on Facebook have already showm 

Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends. #Loire.

Pierre Couly flanked by son Bertrand and Bertand's wife