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, 17 July 2018

Orange wine for an orange 'president'

Trump Balloon 

The Orange president in London's Parliament Square......
(above and below)

Trump balloona 

Amber Revolution
Simon Woolf  – Amber Revolution

Last Friday (13th July 2018) London saw the largest ever demonstration against a foreign leader when an estimated 250,000 people marched against the visit of Donald Trump to the UK. There were other demonstrations that day and over the weekend elsewhere.

Although amber Trump is apparently teetotal the arrival of our copy of Simon Woolf's Amber Revolution seems timely – orange wines to enjoy during a Trump protest! It also coincides with David's visit to Georgia.

Like a increasing number of other wine books, especially those that break new ground, Simon's book was Crowdfunded. Before Simon considers suing me and Les 5 du Vin Blog for defamation I should make it very clear that the only possible connection between the abominable oaf that is the current president of the USA, albeit hopefully briefly, and amber wine is colour.

From Simon Woolf's Preface:
'Conundrums aside, orange wine's time has well and truly come – bottles are proudly displayed on the shelves of countless independent wine merchants, in fashionable wine bars and top-flight restaurants as never before. The technique resists mass-production, requiring considerable patience and skill to execute properly, so these wines will never dominate supermarket shelves – but producers across the globe are now almost as likely to have an experimental 'orange' in their line-up as they are a traditional method sparkler or a late harvest dessert wine. (Jim - not sure why Simon insists on using term 'dessert wine' when the sensible term is sweet wine.)
Yet for all of the exponential growth of interest, a great deal of myth, superstition and plain old ignorance still surrounds the style. Its origins and rich heritage, in particular, have received very little love from the great and the good of the wine world.

Amber Revolution is an attempt to right that wrong and to distil a significant body of knowledge about this wonderful and unique beverage into one just about digestible volume. The greater part of the book delves into the histories of people, places and culture from orange wine's heartlands: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Slovenia and Georgia. The persona stories of the winemakers in these regions are as rich and colourful as the wines they produce, and provide the all-important context for their output.

Just two decades ago it would have been impossible to write a major book about orange wine – it didn't even have a name. The explosion of availability, popularity and acceptance of the style unquestionably represents a revolution, whatever shade or hue it might be dubbed.'

Crowd by BBC 

Huge crowd @start of the march by the BBC in Langham Place

Pussy Grabbing Pervert 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Two good days in Peniche, Portugal



Last week we spent two days in Peniche, which is a seaside town on an interesting and curious peninsula on the Portuguese Atlantic coast about 90 kilometres north west of Lisbon.

We took one of the frequent express buses from Lisbon, which takes just over 90 minutes with three stops on the way. We found an excellent B & B on the net –
Mercearia d'Alegria. Up in Peniche de Cima and close to the main beach, it used to be an old grocer's store and has been very sensitively converted and is a treat to stay at. 

Merceria d'A 

Arriving at lunchtime we went to the Restaurante do Parque – close to our B & B.  We both chose grilled skate. It took some 40 minutes to come, which was beginning to make us wonder whether they were having to rush out to catch our fish. Anyway when it did arrive it was excellent – a very generous portion, perfectly cooked along with plenty of garlic chips. As we were thirsty we just had a draught of Portuguese mainstream beer – Sagres.


As Peniche is a fishing port as well as being a seaside resort, there are many fish restaurants mainly clustered around the port area. That evening we chose to try Entre Tapas as we were still quite full after our late lunch so didn't want a full meal.  Selecting a few tapas we had an enjoyable meal here, although we were very surprised that a 'Tapas' bar had run out of ham! Also when CRM ordered a gin and tonic she didn't expect to find half an iceberg in the large glass. This time we did opt for a bottle of wine: 2015 Bacalhau Escolha by Paulo Laureano – a powerful blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Tinta Grossa. Possibly too powerful for our dish of very tasty small sardines – but that's what we fancied. Most times matching food and wine comes down to what we want to drink.

Small sardines
Small sardines + Entre Tapas bar

Entre amis



Our afternoon was taken up with a visit to the Berlengas Islands – a nature reserve with a mass of birds mainly gulls. Berlenga is the main island and is some 14 kms off-shore from Peniche. No wine is made here but it is possible to get plenty of exercise to work up an appetite for an evening meal. This includes some 350 or so rough hewn steps that take you up from the 17th Century fort up to the lighthouse.

Fort and the lighthouse above
The fort from on high with Peniche on the horizon.

Tasca do Joel

Tasca -sign 

tasca do j

A chance meeting with a friend on the way to the Lisbon bus station gave us this time. "You should go to Tasca do Joel," he said. We duly did that evening and it was excellent. Good service and food plus an excellent wine list which comes on an iPad. The only other time this has happened was last year in a restaurant in Moscow.

Tasca - kit
 Kitchen at Tasca do Joel
Quinta de S. Francisco

I started the evening with a glass of the crisp 2017 Quinta de S. Francisco, while CRM settled for a glass of Niepoort's Redoma white.


We started with a delicious crab, which we chose from live in a tank.  Then for mains CRM chose one of the day's special dishes – duck stewed with chestnuts, while I opted for the grilled rabbit. With these two dishes we drank the rich and powerful 2015 Pombal do Vesuvio, Douro from Symington. This was the first time I had come across this particular wine from the Quinta do Vesuvio in the Upper Douro. It is a blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Amarela.

Duck & Chestnuts
Grilled rabbit

15 Pombal do Vesuvio

Pombal do V BL



We spent a good part of the morning in a café with a view of the main beach. Very popular with locals, we enjoyed listening to one of Bob Dylan's later CDs before moving on round the northern coast to find our lunchtime restaurant – Profesco. This is a very popular fish restaurant, like Tasca do Joel, set on its own away from the main restaurant area. Instead on the northern side of the peninsula with a view over to Berlengas Islands. Very professionally run and buzzy Profresco is deservedly popular although the cooking doesn't aim for the quite same standard as Tasca do Joel. 

We had a very good Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato as a shared starter followed by a couple of main courses with CRM choosing a linguine with seafood – a generous portion. The Muros Antigos Alvarinho Vinho Verde made by famous winemaker Anselmo Mendes is always good – a fine combination of weight and freshness. The 2017 is no exception.

17 Muros Antigos



Tuesday, 3 July 2018

2018 Adegga Food & Wine Festival, Lisbon

Adegga held their most ambitious event this weekend at the recently restored Pavilhão Carlos Lopes a two day Wine & Food Festival just outside the recently and magnificently restored Pavillon Carlos Lopes in the famous Edward VII Park that overlooks the centre of Lisbon.

There were some 60 of the best of Portugal’s producers showing some 500 wines along with 10 Portuguese chefs showing their skills in making petiscos (the Portuguese equivalent of Spanish tapas). The weather was kind in this rather bizarre year as it was cool – around 22˚C and it didn’t rain, so good conditions for tasting, so much better than 30˚C of heat.

It was a relaxed occasion particularly on Sunday afternoon which was rather unsurprisingly less busy than Saturday, which made it perfect for tasting.

 There were many interesting and good wines to taste but I’m going to pick out two producers – Vasques de Carvalho and Castelo Rodrigo. Let’s start with Castelo Rodrigo in Beira with their fascinating and complex Pinking. Although from its pinkish hue it looks as though it is a rosé, it is actually a white wine made from from Síria – a local grape here in Beira. There are natural components in Síria that produces the pink tinge. To make a white Síria you have to remove the colour.

 Antonio Vasques de Carvalho, Vasques de Carvalho

However, my big discovery of the festival was the wines of Vasques do Carvalho, especially their amazing array of Ports. Although the family had long grown grapes and made wine they sold to the Port houses, while in keeping a little back for themselves. In 2012 the family decided to strike out on their own. The range of tawnys from 10 YO through to 40 YO are spectacular as is the Porto Special Reserve white, while the Porto Dry White well chilled would make a very acceptable apéro – probably too good to be mixed with tonic. I also tasted the estate’s reds and was particularly impressed by the 2013 Velhos Bardos Reserva.