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




Sunday, 3 May 2015

Tony 'Mr Canada' Aspler comes to dinner

Tony Aspler@work during 2014 DWWA

Friday afternoon saw the end of the main section of judging for the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards. A small panel will soon decide on the International Trophies – the top wines from more than 16,000 entered this year.

Tony Aspler, now the doyen of Canadian wine writers, was over in London for the DWWA as the  regional chair for Canada. He came to dinner on Friday. 

2008 Pinot Reserve Chapel Down

After a very busy day judging it was good to start the evening with this fine English sparkling wine. It is a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir, which spends a minimum of at least 5 years on its lees. The resulting wine is complex: rich with notes of toast and brioche.  

 1995 Le L' d'Or de Pierre Luneau, Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine sur lie 


I have been regional chair for the Loire and this edition has very clearly been the most successful in terms of gold medals awarded – a total of 10. Last year we awarded a record four golds. In the 2015 edition Muscadet played a significant part – highlighting both the quality of the 2014 vintage but also underlining what efforts have been made in the Pays Nantais to raise quality. 

There have, of course, always been quality minded producers in the Pays Nantais like Pierre and Monique Luneau. Although a very drinkable and spectacular 1995 Muscadet will surprise some, lovers of Muscadet will not be surprised that this 1995 L d'Or has aged brilliantly and remains youthful. The ceviche of tuna, scallops and salmon was a very good foil to Pierre and Monique's wine. 
 
   
1980 Châteauneuf du Pape
Château de Beaucastel 


The label is slightly askew ....

Main course was a simply roasted chicken with the intention that the 1980 Beaucastel should not perhaps be overwhelmed by strong flavours. Although I opened the 1980 about an hour or so before we started to drink it I didn't decant it until just before before serving as an tasting it when I first opened it the wine seemed quite delicate so I didn't want to take the risk of it fading in the decanter. This may have been a mistake as the wine opened up while we drank it with the final glass being the most impressive. An example of how as wines age regions move closer together with the 1980s light bricky colour and silky texture approaching Burgundy.  

1999 Le Mont Demi-Sec, SA Huet

No dessert – instead a selection of cheese to accompany this 1999 Le Mont Demi-Sec from Huet. Honey, quince with lovely balance of this fruit and fresh but ripe acidity in the finish. Showing some evolution but brilliantly precise and surely good for at least the next 30 or 40 years. A bottle, that dates from the time when Gaston Huet was still alive, which illustrates why demi-sec is perhaps the most classic style of Vouvray. Simply a treat! 

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Bottles from the Circle of Wine Writers BYOB @Lahore Kebab House 27.4.2015 + Alex Dowsett Record


The Circle of Wine Writers held a BYOB at the Lahore Kebab House in East London on Monday 27th April. As usual at the Lahore the food was good as well as copious and as you might expect there were some very interesting bottles to try.   

 Laura Semeria: 2010 Cour-Cheverny, Domaine de Montcy


I took along a couple of Loire wines that proved to be popular. Firstly the 2010 Cour-Cheverny from Laura Semeria's Domaine de Montcy. The appellation has to be 100% Romorantin and this is just really getting into its stride. Romorantin, like Hunter Valley Semillon, can often be quite bland and uninteresting in when young but with bottle age becomes complexity and interesting. The 2010 had a fine balance of rich, honeyed fruit and acidity making it a delicious way to start the evening.



2012 Charlouise, Sancerre Rouge from Vincent Pinard was my second wine. With its wonderfully vibrant and silky red fruits this proved to be one of the stars of the evening – surprising some by the quality of Pinot Noir now comimng out of Sancerre and other Central Vineyard appellations like Menetou-Salon and Reuilly.

 2009 Moulin à Vent, Domaine Benoit Trichard 
2009 was a very good vintage in Beaujolais
This showed why some are now reassessing Beaujolais
The back label below



 Line-up of a few of the wines – including 2002 Brokenwood Shiraz, 
which was their first screwcapped vintage. It has aged well and is still quite youthful

 The sole example of a Chenin Blanc: 
the fine 2012 from Doran Vineyards, South Africa

 2008 Riesling from Château des Charmes (Canada)


 Scenes from the evening



 2010 Dry Riesling, Marlborough, New Zealand


 Stunningly good Palo Cortado from Fernando de Castilla


••••

Many congratulations to Alex Dowsett on breaking the hour record today. See the brief highlights here. Will Bradley Wiggins break this new record and if so by how much when he tries in June in London.



Friday, 1 May 2015

2015 Decanter World Wine Awards – best year ever for Loire

2015 Decanter World Wine Awards @Tobacco Dock

The Decanter World Wine Awards are over for another year with more than 16,000 wines entered – a remarkable growth since the awards started in 2003. The Loire panel, which I have been privileged to chair since the competition's inception, awarded 10 Golds this year from well over 300 wines. Last year we awarded four, which was in itself a record, so 10 is remarkable. This, in part, is due to the fine 2014 vintage. 

Full details will be posted when the regional awards are published.



Thursday, 30 April 2015

2015 Decanter World Wine Awards: some photos

Judges listening as Sarah Kemp and Steven Spurrier 
set the scene for the day
– how to deal with over 16,000 wines @Tobacco Dock
DWWA judges gathering at the start  of the day

Nigel Wilkinson (RSJ Restaurant) judging Loires

Up at 3.20am to fly south from Edinburgh 
Chris Kissack (The Wine Doctor) is admirably awake

 Nicolas Clerc MS (Morris & Verdin)
Nicolas joined the Loire panel for two days 



Ian d'Agata

Monty Waldin – the UK PetNat guy

Mai Tjemsland MW

  Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW 
taking an exploratory sip of water...
not sure it will catch on 

Shane Jones, the Red Shirt who looked after 
our Loire panel brilliantly on Tuesday and Wednesday