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

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Skye's the limit: a few photos from a day on the island

Leaving Sconser for Raasay 

We spent part of the day on the island of Raasay and then drove right round the Trotternish Peninsula. Day was a mix of sunshine and showers, whereas yesterday was mainly wet.   

 Approaching Raasay 

 The handsome Raasay House now 
owned by the community and saved from ruin

Amazingly despite neglect and the fire the lovely 
wooden panelling of the library is still intact.

 The Cuillins from Raasay House (above and below)

 The shrouded Cuillins

Yacht just off Raasay

Hillside ruin on Raasay

Looking towards mainland Scotland

The Old Man of Storr (above and below)

From Trotternish towards the Western Isles – 
Harris and North Uist in far distance

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

From Vineyards Direct (Ireland): Stuart when will Pat get his wine?

 Twitter (26th July 2014): Stuart Smith to Pat  – 'Your 11's are lying lcb'

The twitter conversation that lead to response 
from Stuart Smith (From Ireland's From Vineyards Direct)

 Stuart Smith: managing director at From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) Ltd 
 Smith's background
Back on 25th and 26th July I was briefly involved in a Twitter conversation about From Vineyards Direct Ireland Ltd. A Pat Casey contacted Tom Doorley (Food and drinks writer and broadcaster, Irish Daily Mail columnist) to inquire whether From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) Ltd was still trading. Casey had bought en primeur two cases of 2011 Bordeaux from the company – a case of Beaumont and one of Potensac but had yet to receive his wines, despite the wines being listed for sale on-line.

Casey contacted Stuart Smith in early April this year. Pat Casey reports that Stuart Smith: 'told me they were at LCB and would get back to me.  That’s the last I heard from him! I sent a few more emails with no response over the course of a couple of months.'

However, as we can see the twitter conversation did finally produce a response from Stuart Smith, whose Linkedin page describes him as managing director of From Vineyards Direct (Ireland).

Soon after Smith sent Casey this email on 30th July 2014:   

What’s a good number to call you on – I’ve arranged to have the wine shipped on our next pallet from LCB in the UK. Will either be here late next week or on the Monday the week after.

Apologies for the delay, but as I mentioned on twitter I ahve been on compassionate leave and this has caused huge issues.

Best Regards,


Stuart Smith
From Vineyards Direct Ireland Ltd
'The Workshop'
35 Yellow Walls Road
Co Dublin
01 845 7645 or 087 7580230'

According to Stuart Smith, Casey should have received his wine by Monday 11th August (2014). Sadly the two cases of wine have yet to arrive and Stuart Smith is again proving very difficult to contact as an email from Casey today (20.8.2014): 

'Just to keep you updated: nothing much to report unfortunately! After his Twitter post of 26th July, I received an email from Stuart at FVDIE on 30th July (copied below) stating that my wine would be available within two weeks; I forwarded my phone number to him that day. I’ve heard nothing since though; this includes no response to an email I sent on 12th August enquiring as to when I would receive either my wine or a refund.

Who knew it was so difficult to buy decent wine?!'


Hopefully this is an isolated case. However, according to Duedil the last acconts filed for From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) are to 31st December 2011 and showed 500K of liabilities. The accounts to 31st December 2012 now overdue. On 14th February 2014 the original directors, including 44 year-old Stuart Smith, all resigned – see:     

Pat Casey was told back in early April that his 2011s were at LCB (London City Bond). if this was true, why is he still waiting to receive his wine, please?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Off to Skye and John O'Groats + Eilean Donan

Looking across to Skye from Applecross

Today we started our now annual exploration of parts of Scotland. Setting off to Skye to Edinbane, where we are staying at Shorefield House. After three nights in Skye we will head up to John O'Groats to stay in one of the Natural retreats chalets there.

The weather threatens to be decidedly autumnal for the second half of August with sunshine and showers and temperatures in the low teens.   


The chalets  outside and inside

On the way to Skye: Eilean Donan Castle
We stopped to take some photos of this hugely popular attraction, which is just a few miles east of the Kyle of Lochalsh and the bridge across to Skye.  

 Eilean Donan glimpsed through the trees

A couple of holidaymakers

Monday, 18 August 2014

La Table de la Bergerie: early October 2013

 Sign at the entrance to Domaine de la Bergerie 
and La Table de la Bergerie

Early last October we ate at La Table de la Bergerie run by chef David Guitton, who is married to Anne Guégniard, who now runs Domaine de la Bergerie with her parents Yves and Marie-Yannick. It is very unusual in the Loire to have a restaurant attached to a wine estate and it is especially unusual to have one of this quality. 

We chose the menu which included an appropriate wine from the domaine with each course. Unfortunately I have forgotten the details of what we ate but do remember that it was impressively good. I have eaten here on several occasions and have always had excellent meals. 

 2011 Les Pierres Girard, Anjou

Les Pierres Girard, which was served with the first course, is 100% Chenin Blanc from old vines – some as old as 100 years from the vineyard just to the east of the winery.  

Old vine Chenin with vines around 100 years old 

La Croix Picot, Savennières: from a vineyard 
overlooking in the Loire in the east of the appellation
Served with second course

Duck breast with figs 
(above and below)

Evanescence, Anjou Villages: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
The power and concentration to match the duck

Cheese course with a glass of 2010 
Clos le Grand Beaupréau Savennières

2010 Clos Le Grand Beaupréau, Savennières

Clos Le Grand Beaupréau is the vineyard that the Guégniard's share with Vincent and Catherine Ogereau and Claude and Joëlle Papin. The vineyard is up on the plateau and the wine tends to be richer and fuller than the Clos Pichot.   


2010 Quarts de Chaume
Served with the desserts
Lovely Q de C from a very good vintage – concentration and great balance