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

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Important announcement: Moët Hennessy going herbicide free

March time in Touraine – widespread and distressingly
indiscriminate use of weedkiller

Today is apparently International Wine Day*, so I am delighted to post some very good news about sustainable viticulture that Moët-Hennessy will cease to use weedkillers in their wine division vineyards from the end of this year. Furthermore this ban will be extended to their Cognac vineyards by the end of 2021.
This is a major statement from a prestigious and important wine company. Although it is good to see the many smaller producers who have  ceased to use herbicides with many going organic as witnessed by the number exhibitors at this year's Millésime Bio and its associated events, Moët-Hennessy's decision should have an important boost to changing the acceptability of the use of herbicides. In addition they are investing €20 million into researching sustainable viticulture, although they are not going organic.
Here are two news articles on Moët-Hennessy's announcement, which came at Wine Paris.

From The Drinks Business:

'Luxury drinks company Moët Hennessy has announced that its entire wine division will be herbicide-free by the end of the year and it intends to invest €20 million in research into sustainable viticulture.

Its vineyards in Cognac will likewise be herbicide-free in 2021, the group said in a statement adding that it had invested in numerous electric and robotic machines which would be used to mow grass, including the tricky patches directly below the canopy.

Read the rest of the article here.

Union France Monde
Moët Hennessy arrêtera « fin 2020 » l’utilisation des herbicides dans tous ses vignobles de Champagne, et en 2021 dans ceux de la région de Cognac, a annoncé mercredi 12 février son PDG Philippe Schaus lors du salon Wine Paris-Vinexpo.

« Fin 2020 en Champagne, nous allons complètement arrêter les herbicides, et nous allons construire un nouveau centre de recherche et développement en Champagne d’une valeur de 20 millions d’euros  », a déclaré M. Schaus.

« Pour le cognac, nous arrêterons un an plus tard », a précisé le dirigeant, qui a succédé en 2017 à Christophe Navarre à la tête de la filiale vins et spiritueux du groupe de luxe LVMH.

Robots et tracteurs électriques

« Nous remplaçons les herbicides par le désherbage mécanique grâce notamment à des tracteurs électriques et des robots »a-t-il dit.
Lire ici


International Wine Days

* Quite why someone has dreamed up a specific International Wine Day is all rather beyond me. Nor do I have any idea who decided this or how the decision was made. I suspect that it was dreamt up by a PR company during a long liquid lunch or in an idle moment on a quiet Friday afternoon. 

I humbly suggest that every day in the year, including all of January should be an International Wine Day. In a normal year this makes 365 International Wine Days, while in 2020, being a leap year, we are particularly spoilt as we will have 366 International Wine Days!

My wine for the 48th International Wine Day of 2020:  

2017 Sant' Ana Riesling
2017 Riesling, Quinta de Sant'Ana

Following a very interesting visit yesterday morning to the most attractive Quinta de Sant'Ana in Mafra we repaired to Ericeira on the Potruguese Atlantic Coast where we had a really excellent seafood lunch at Ribas. The 2017 Riesling was a delicious partner to our food and is a reminder as to how good the wines from the Lisbon district can be.

Ericeira is popular with surfers. Yesterday it was clear why with huge waves rolling in from the Atlantic.


Monday, 3 February 2020

Renaissance tasting – Sunday 2nd February: a few pics

Tasting in the Musée Jean Lurcat

Anouk Lavoie-Lamoureux
Les jardin de Theseiss (5 ha)
(in Thésée in the Cher Valley)
First vintage 2018 

 Céline Blet, Les Terres Blanches in Oiron

Benoît Blet, Les Terres Blanches in Oiron

David Guitton, owner and chef of Michelin starred 
La Table de la Bergerie attached
 to the Domaine de la Bergerie (Champs sur Layon) 

Les trois vedettes: Florence Sylvos,
Louis-Jean Sylvos et Pascale Plouzeau

Jo Pithon
(Domaine Belargus)

Apprentice Mark 
(above and below)

It was good to meet Mark, a promising young wine apprentice, now spending a useful apprenticeship (stage) with to excellent teachers: Martial Angeli and Bruno Ciofi. 

 Martial Angeli

 Bruno Ciofi


Sunday, 2 February 2020

As Didier retires Damien Richou creates Terra Vita Vinum

Terra Vita Vinum @Millésime Bio 2020 
L-R: Luc Briand, Bénédicte Petit, Damien Richou
Three of the four partners 

When Didier Richou (Domaine Richou, Mozé-sur-Louet, Anjou) took relatively earlier retirement at the age of 62 his younger brother Damien decided that he need to bring in some new associates to help him run the domaine. This has been successfully done and now he has three new partners – Luc Briand, who was born in Saint-Lamber-du-Lattay and is a director of Plus Value Conseil based in Nantes which advises on the running of wine domaines, Bénédicte Petit, a caviste (wine merchant), and Christophe Aubineau, who is a company auditor based in Nantes but who has a background in apple growing. The new project is called Terra Vita Vinum.

The new 'équipe' has already jazzed up the labels and launched a new cuvée – Rock & Schist. In this year they will qualify for the biodynamic Demeter status – completing their conversion to biodynamics.

I tasted with the new equipé (team) on the last morning of Bio Millésime 2020. Anjou Blanc Chauvigné, the entry level dry white Anjou, is now labelled Large Soif Blanc starting with the ripe and richly textured Large Soif Blanc 2019. Next 2018 Terre de 3, a new wine for me from three different parcels and first made in 2017. The 2018 is attractively vibrant, with good balance between the fruit and acidity with salinity in the finish. Next up the complex Les Rogeries (Anjou Blanc) and the vibrant and long 2018 Savennières – 30% vinified in barriques and 70% in stainless steel. I also had an early taste of the 2019 rock & schiste white from 38 year-old Chardonnay vines that is vinified and aged partly in Burgundy barrels and part in amphores.

For the reds I enjoyed the easy drinking, juicy 2018 Large Soif, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Then to finish off there was the unfinished 2019 rock & schist rouge – bien élève, which is a blend of the two Cabernets – aged for one years in barrels and Italian amphores.

Clearly this is another interesting new development in Anjou.