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 investdrinks.org

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




Monday, 7 December 2020

Legendary Jacques Puisais dies at 93

 

Jacques Puisais with Ivan Massonnat and Jo Pithon (Belargus)
30th March 2019 @ Vincent le Cuisinier
with the 1961 le haut Lieu demi-sec





Jacques Puisais (born: 8th June 1927 Poitiers

died 6th December 2020 Chinon)

« bien manger et du bien boire »

Very sad news that Jacques Puisais, a Loire and French legend, died aged 93 in Chinon's Hospital on Sunday (6th December 2020) of Covid-19 – another victim of this horrible pandemic. 

Jacques was a biologist, oenologue, a philosopher and a teacher. He was a major figure in the Loire for many reasons – as an innovative wine-maker he pioneered the use of pigeage (punching down). He played a significant part in improving the quality of Loire wines in part through developing in 1960 a way of identifying even a small percentage hybrid grapes in a wine. Thus helping to reinforce the quality of appellation wines by eliminating those that illegally contained hybrid grapes. 

Jacques was a great believer in and teacher of how to eat and drink well. In 1976 he founded the l'Institut Français du Goût at Tours and Paris. An important part of his work was to show children the importance of food and how to eat well – 'le goût juste'

Jacques was a passionate lover and supporter of Touraine and of Loire wines, especially Chenin Blancs.


Indre-et-Loire : Jacques Puisais l'épicurien est décédé
'
Le chantre du goût et du bien-manger s’est éteint des suites du Covid-19, dimanche au centre hospitalier du Chinonais, à l’âge de 93 ans. Il a été, avec Alfred Mame, l’un des pères de l’Institut du goût.

Chaque repas est un moment que vous ne retrouverez jamais. Les mots distillés dans un sourire malicieux sont lâchés à l’ombre de son jardin de Chinon où il aimait recevoir. Ils sont signés Jacques Puisais, alors « trésor vivant » de la gastronomie française.'

Read the rest here

Part of Périco Légasse's tribute, La Nouvelle République:

'C’est cela qu’il lui a appris, à Périco Légasse, au-delà de la science indispensable ou de la connaissance, au-delà des valeurs mêmes : « Il m’a inculqué le “ goût juste ” Et puis ce culte de la Touraine ! » Pour Jacques Puisais, elle était « la synthèse de l’âme française, le résumé du paradis français ». Pour lui, « la cité idéale de la gastronomie, c’était Chinon, car c’est là que Rabelais était né ».'

More details of Jacques Puisais' life and work:

Wikipedia (English)

Wikipedia (French) 

••

Over the years I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Jacques on a number of occasions. He was a charming, erudite man and a great enthusiast. There was no side to Jacques – no big head, although he had every reason to be proud of his achievements. 

The last time I saw Jacques was entirely serendipitously. It was on the 30th March 2019 at Vincent le Cuisinier in Ingrandes de Touraine when Jacques was 91. CRM and I were at Vincent and Olivia's wonderful restaurant to share over lunch a couple of Jo Pithon's wines including the 2005 Clos des Treilles (Anjou Blanc) with Jo and Ivan Massonnat, who had bought Pithon-Paillé the previous year which now forms part of his Domaine Belargus. 

I had also brought along the 1961 Le Haut Lieu demi-sec from Domaine Huet for our apéro. Entirely by chance Jacques was also lunching with Vincent with Périco Légrasse that day. I offered him a glass. It turned out that Jacques had made this 1961 for Gaston Huet. I had no idea that he had made wine for Gaston. Jacques was on good form – a wonderfully alert 91 years young! A lovely memory now tinged with sadness. 

 

Ivan Massonnat's reponse to Jacques' death: 
'Merci Jim pour cette triste nouvelle... (à peine) compensée par ce magnifique souvenir. Je me souviens de ce 61 comme si c'était hier...

La Loire vient de perdre un de ses plus grands ambassadeurs.'

        

Jacques Puisais @Journées du Livre et du Vin1.5. 2011
Tasting and commenting on a 1976 Domaine de la Noiraie (Bourgueil)
 

Here are two other instances of various times when I met Jacques:  

Journées du Livre et du Vin 2011.  

In March 2010 there was a vertical tasting of Bourgueil from 1959 to 1999 at L'Hotel de Ville in the centre of Tours commented on by Jacques and Périco Légrasse. See here.



 

 

 

Monday, 14 September 2020

Great day for a bike ride and other reflections......

 

London: view towards Canary Wharf
 
Today has been a lovely mid-September's late summer's day with temperatures around 27˚C perfect for a bike ride, especially as this is the second rest day in the Tour de France so no need to rush back to catch the live action.
 
The slopes of the North Downs are the closest open countryside to London's Forest Hill. Here there are plenty of lanes to explore – some quite narrow and requiring care as this close to London there are a good number of cars on them as well. It is noticeable that with Covid-19 there has been a big increase in the number of cyclists of all abilities and sizes out of their bikes. 



Photo by Malc McDonald
     

A memorial to a local cyclist, Paul Skelly,
who died suddenly in 2016 aged 53.  

 

The Downs are chalk hills that typically have a scarp slope and a more gentle dip slope. In the case of the North Downs the dip slope faces London providing a steady and fairly gentle climb up to the ridge that overlooks the Kent and Surrey countryside. After a narrow and steep descent down Hesiers Lane, the Col du Skelly (Beddlestead Lane) is a fairly steady climb of 3.16 kms at an average of 4% with a height gain of 120 metres that takes you to the ridge at the top of the North Downs dip slope. Carrying on into Kent and Surrey will take you down the steep inclines of the scarp slope. Here are found plenty of steep challenging climbs – some with up to 20% gradients and more, which will test even fit young cyclists. 

It was back in the late 1970s and 1980s that I rode and managed these hills on a conventional bike now I enjoy riding up them on my electric bike, which still allows you to work hard but without expiring at the roadside.

 

  

These are short, sharp hills more akin to the famous climbs in Belgium that are a feature of the Spring Classics, such as the Tour of Flanders. Certainly nothing like the long Alpine climbs that face the remaining riders in the 2020 Tour de France this week – assuming that the race continues after all the riders and staff are tested for Covid-19 over the rest day. 

Leaving aside the racing, which has been exciting this year, the Tour de France is a great advert for the beauty of the very varied French countryside – all the more so now with high definition TV pictures compared to the grainy but atmospheric black and white of the early days of television and the time of news reels. The length of stage races also allows commentators to talk about the food and wine of the regions the race passes through. Wine wise journalist and author François Thomazeau is to date the most impressive and knowledgeable without being precious or pompous. A few nameless others broadcast their ignorance and prejudices with gusto.

Along with travel guides and crime novels often set in Marseille, Thomazeau also compiles the official guide to the sights along the route of the Tour that briefs commentators allowing them to talk knowledgeably about places of interest – châteaux, churches etc. Thomazeau can be heard on the excellent daily Cycling Podcast along with Richard Moore and Lionel Birnie.

It won't be long before we know whether Slovenia will have its first Tour de France winner and whether Irishman Sam Bennett will dethrone Peter Sagan as King of the Green Points Jersey. 

Here complete list of the Tour de France stage winners from the first edition in 1903 to the present day.   

 

 

   

 

            

Monday, 7 September 2020

Remembering Frédéric Mabileau

 

 Fred @ RSJ Restaurant 2010
 

A week after Fred died in a ULM crash at Saumur Airport on 31st August I still haven't come to terms with his sudden and shocking death. An article (Décès de Frédéric Mabileau : la défaillance technique écartée) in La Nouvelle République (4.9.2020) says that a mechanical fault in the ULM, which Fred was apparently in the process of buying has been ruled out. This after an autopsy in Angers the NR says leaves two possibilities either that Fred was suddenly taken ill or he lost control of the ULM. Although the ULM caught fire once it had crashed he was apparently already dead before the fire broken out – a small consolation that he did not burn to death. 

Fred's funeral will be held on Wednesday 9th September in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil at 10 am. Due to Covid-19 there are currently restrictions on the number of people who can attend a funeral. 

Here are some photos of Fred taken over a number of years, which recall much happier times.


Fred (centre) @ the RSJ Restaurant
celebrating it 25th anniversary in 2005
Also present left to right: Noël Pinguet (Huet),
Thomas Meunier (i/c commerce for Fred),
Nigel Wilkinson (proprietor RSJ), Christine and Eric Nicolas

(Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières) 
 

 


2008: Fred and Thomas with first vintage of the
still fermenting Saumur Blanc from Le Puy Notre Dame


Below: Fred with the 2008 Saumur

 

 
2008: Fred and Thomas with Sarah Ahmed
(The Wine Detective)
 

Tasting with Fred @ Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil

Fred as hod carrier 3.10.2009
1er tri du Chenin Le Puy Notre Dame

Below Fred emptying his hod

Fred, a glass of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Bacchus

 

2013 vintage Fred in his winery with
Chris Kissack (The Wine Doctor)
 


Frédéric Mabileau with his new foudre
taken during the 2018 harvest