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




Saturday, 31 March 2012

Journées Nationales du Livre et du Vin: 17th edition 13th May




dimanche 13 mai 2012, Saumur
17ème EDITION DES JOURNEES DU LIVRE ET DU VIN

Dédiées à l’acteur Jean Carmet qui a permis d’en initier l’idée, les Journées Nationales du Livre et du Vin, créées en 1996, se situent à la croisée de deux éléments fondamentaux du patrimoine français : sa Littérature et son Vin, associés au sein d’une manifestation d’ampleur nationale.

L’événement 2012 se déroulera sous le signe de l’ivresse de la liberté.

NOUVEAUTES 2012
- Exposition « Jean-Claude Brialy, 15 ans de Livre et de Vin »
- Exposition "Dolgans, les derniers nomades des glaces"
- Création du Prix Hervé Bazin

MAIS TOUJOURS :
La remise des 7 Prix littéraires
La rencontre des auteurs avec le public (environ 130 auteurs présents)
Les dégustations publiques des Vins Prix d’Excellence de la Loire et des Vins de Bourgueil chers à Jean Carmet
Les cafés littéraires et tables rondes

...tout ceci en présence de la célèbre fanfare du Livre et du Vin!!
Authors and their readers@the 2011 edition 


1855 – 'Is there anything I can do regarding my 2008 orders?'



Château Cheval-Blanc: bottles of 2008 Le Petit Cheval not delivered 

This week I received the following message from KG, a UK based customer of 1855. He has been unable to contact the company and is still waiting for his 2008 en primeurs. My advice is to start legal action against 1855. 

Hi Jim,

Is there anything I can do regarding my 2008 orders?

Emails are not being replied to.

The orders are:
4 bottles Château Angélus 2008
2 bottles Le Carillon de l'Angélus 2008
3 bottles Le Petit Cheval 2008
24 bottles Château l'Arrosée 2008

Kind Regards

KG

Dear KG

I suggest you take them to court. See recent posts on Jim's Loire see especially:

One lawyer you could consider is Gwendoline Cattier of Deprez Guignot Associés (www.ddg.fr). DDG has a growing track record in handling legal cases against 1855. 

Kind regards

Jim 

*** 

'Management' and leading shareholder of 1855 
Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon are the senior 'management' team of 1855 (1855.com, 1855.con). Leading French businessman Jean-Pierre Meyers, who is on the boards of L'Oréal and Nestlé, is a long-term shareholder of 1855. 



1855 is a probationary member of La Fevad.



Friday, 30 March 2012

Gaudrelle's Ammonite 2009 Vouvray selected for Obama dinner

Alexandre Monmousseau: Château Gaudrelle

Alexandre Monmousseau's 2009 Ammonite Vouvray Sec has been selected for a Président Obama fund raising dinner in Portland, Maine this evening. The wines to be served at the Presidential dinner were selected by Ned Swain of Devenish Wines.

Robert Parker's investigation 'now complete'

Robert Parker@WineFuture Hong Kong

According to a post on 28th March 2012 by Robert Parker on the erobert bulletin board the Campo-Miller investigation has finished and he is awating the final report. 

 

From: 'What is the status of TWA's investigation into alleged Pancho Campo pay-to-taste?' thread


‘This investigative report is going to be like 3,000 pages long based on how long it is taking...’

RP: 28th March 2012
'Matt...frustrating it has taken this long, but the number of people they have inteviewed has been considerable...I was told it would be done a month ago...it is finished as of a few days ago, and I am anxiously awaiting the dossier which I hope actually reveals something substantive after all this time and expense....as I said last year, we took these allegations very seriously, have got top professionals on both sides of the Atlantic, and will provide a report on this BB, and implement any suggestions they offer...I don't want to rush to judgement on either wine or peoples' lives/reputations....'


My thanks to the person who kindly sent this to me and who commented:  

'There is a delicious irony in this:

I don't want to rush to judgement on either wine or peoples' lives/reputations...."

Given how he treated you in this……….

Will be fascinating to see what comes of all this!!'

**  

Kroll Associates
I was contacted by Julian Grijns of Kroll Associates by email late on 20th March and we had a phone conversation on 21st March. Julian acknowledged that Harold Heckle and I had assisted the investigation when requested and that our cooperation would be noted in the final report. There was no mention of wanting to have a meeting.  

To date I 'this blogger' have received no explanation or apology from Robert Parker for the claims made on his bulletin board that I was 'reluctant to talk' (14.2.2012) and that they had been trying to set up a meeting with me since December 2011 (15.2.2012). It is disappointing that Parker appears not to be 'big enough' nor have the grace to apologise. He made claims, particularly in respect to 'reluctance' to talk, that he had good reason to know were nonsense.

**

See also an article in Spanish on Campogate here by Andrés Proensa and Raquel Pardo, which includes an exploration of some of the options available to the Institute of Masters of Wine in their investigation into the conduct of Pancho Campo MW:

Campogate
Pancho MW, bajo la lupa
Madrid, 27 de marzo de 2012. RP-AP.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Domaine des Bleuces, Portes Ouvertes 14th & 15th April


Open day at the Domaine des Bleuces at Courcourson-sur-Layon – in the upper Layon Valley – on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th April. The domaine of 50 hectares has wines from Anjou as well as from Saumur including Saumur-Champigny.

2011 Central Vineyards tasting@BIVC with Alexis Goujard



Alexis tackling just some of the 2011 red samples

I spent all of Wednesday tasting 2011s as well as this morning at the offices of the BIVC in Saint-Satur (Sancerre) in the company of Alexis Goujard of La Revue du Vin de France. Yesterday we concentrated on the 2011 whites from across the Central Vineyards appellations  – Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Coteaux du Giennois, Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly. Then this morning we tackled a smaller number of reds.  

The tasting confirmed my impression that 2011 in white is a good commercial vintage with softer, less austere, precise wines than in 2010. 2011 is a vintage that is likely to appeal to a large number of people, whereas 2010 tended to appeal Loire amateurs. My guess is that 2011 in the Central Vineyards is not a vintage for long keeping but there are always surprises. 

 

Regarding the reds 2011 looks to be a similarly easy drinking, approachable vintage. Although fascinating to have the opportunity to taste the 2011 reds at this stage, it is really too early in general to make judgments on individual producers as some of the wines we tasted hadn't finished their malolactic fermentation, there were very few in bottle and many were a a number of months before they will be ready to bottle. However, it is clear that there is continued progress being made with the reds from the Central Vineyards and that they can offer bargains when compared to their equivalents in Burgundy. 



My thanks to the Bureau du Centre for organising the tasting and in particular to Céline.  

 Benoît Roumet, director of the BIVC, surveying all – above and below

  

See also Sarah Ahmed on a vertical of Sancerre 2005-1996 here.

Some photos around Chavignol

Hotel Restaurant La Côte du Monts Damnés

From the top of les Monts Damnés – Chavignol and Sancerre

Chopping up prunings on part of Les Monts Damnés

Arnaud Bourgeois and Les Monts Damnés



Arnaud Bourgeois and the church@Chavignol


The church@Chavignol and Les Monts Damnés

Jean-Marie Bourgeois in the centre of Chavignol







Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Pouilly-Fumé: Jonathan Pabiot


Jonathan on his mobile with a view of Saint-Andelain in the distance    

Staying in Sancerre for a couple of days for a big tasting of 2011s from the Central Vineyards. La Revue du Vins de France has kindly allowed me to join their tasting, which starts today and will run through to Thursday.

The amazing summery weather, which started here on last Wednesday (21st), continues with cloudless skies and temperatures up in the early 20s C. The fine weather has made a big difference to all the plants over the last week with leaves and blossom bursting out. 

Yesterday we headed across from Touraine and had time to fit in a couple of excellent visits in Pouilly-Fumé: to Jonathan Pabiot in Les Loges and then to Sébastien Treuillet further north in the appellation in the hamlet of Fontenille. There will be a separate post for Sébastien. 

Jonathan Pabiot
Jonathan comes from a family of vignerons.  Leon, his great grandfather, was a nurseryman, which is how the family started becoming involved in vines and winemaking. At that time polyculture was the norm. Lucien, Jonathan’s grandfather took over, followed by turn by Didier, his father. When Didier started the family cellar was still in cramped premises in the villages of les Loges.

In 1987 Didier Pabiot moved up the hill and built a new house and chai above Les Loges. Jonathan started on his own in March 2005 with some three hectares of vines after doing his training at the Lycée Viticole de Cosne and then worked at Domaine Leon Barral (www.domaineleonbarral.com) in Faugères. Last year Jonathan and his father joined forces and they now have a total of 18 hectares of vines in various parcels.

Back in 2005 Didier farmed conventionally, while Jonathan started working organically from the start and then from 2006 started converting part of the vines to biodynamic culture. Now a part of the 18 hectares are biodynamic with the rest organic. “I don’t have the resources to convert all the vineyard to biodynamic culture, especially as I prefer to dynamise treatments by hand rather than use a machine.”

One of Jonathan's parcels near Les Loges
Note the soil piled up around the vines (butage) 


Jonathan cultivates all of his parcels of vines – building the soil up around the vines during the winter – butage. The soils are worked until May/June when he stops, otherwise the continued turning of the soil causes the vine to keep growing rather than concentrating its energies into ripening the fruit. Jonathan also grasses over some of his parcels. “Grassing over isn’t a simple solution here,” Jonathan explains. “If you leave the grass to grow over several years, then it starts to stress the vines because there is too much competition. So I allow the grass to grow for a year and then plough it back in.”

I spent a fascinating hour and a half with Jonathan visiting different parcels of vines. He explained their individual characteristics – it was as though he was talking about his children citing their strengths and weaknesses. 

Les Mattrays and its very sandy soil


One of the last parcels we visited was Les Mattrays in the far south east of the appellations. Jonathan and his father planted this parcel about three years ago. It has never had vines on it before, so there are no residues of chemical treatments. The soil is very sandy with sand and flint underneath – its taking a while for the roots to get to any depth. They have also discovered that the soil is very acid. 

The grapes here are picked by machine when the vines are on the flat, whereas on the slopes they pick by hand. "I reckon that picking by hand adds 30-40 cents to each bottle." 

View from one of Jonathan's favourite parcels: Prédilection above Les Loges 
and looking towards Pouilly-sur-Loire    

At the end of my visit there remained only time for a quick tasting of some of the 2011s. With the exception of the Pouilly-sur-Loire none of the wines have yet been bottled – the first bottlings will be next week. Although rapid, it confirmed the good impression that I had of Jonathan's wines at Millésime Bio in January. 

Despite Jonathan Pabiot's growing reputation, he has yet to find a UK importer.    

Jonathan Didier Pabiot
Les Loges – BP 5
58150 Pouilly-sur-Loire 
Email: didier-pabiot@wanadoo.fr 


     


 
  

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The 1855 scandal: an open letter and appeal to journalists and writers attending the 2011 Bordeaux en primeurs’ tastings


Château Lafite: among the en primeurs ordered from 1855 and not delivered

Over the next fortnight the wine world’s attention will be on Bordeaux with the 2011 en primeurs tastings. Many of you will be present there tasting and assessing the new vintage.

1855 (1855.com)
This coming fortnight is a great opportunity to turn the spotlight on the continuing scandal of 1855 (1855.com) and its failure to deliver a significant proportion of the Bordeaux en primeurs ordered by its clients. The failure to deliver has now spread to ChâteauOnline bought by 1855 in March 2011 with customers now find that their 2008 en primeurs have not been delivered.  

Although 1855 is based in France, it has disappointed and long suffering customers throughout Europe, waiting for en primeurs ordered and paid for stretching back to 2002.

Between November 2010 and March 2011 I kept a count of the Bordeaux en primeurs that 1855’s customers reported had not been delivered. The list of wines reached a staggering 500 cases outstanding with a value of just under 300,000€. As 1855 has a policy of delivering outstanding wines to those who shout loudest or who start legal action, and usually in dribs and drabs, it was not practical to continue to record the en primeurs not delivered.

1855 has claimed that it has placed firm orders for all 2009 en primeurs ordered through them. This may possibly be the case but on previous experience it is all too likely that there will be problems with 2009 en primeurs ordered through 1855.  On the La Passion du Vin forum there is a thread called ‘1855 retard des primeurs’ that now runs to an astonishing 122 pages and is full of stories of wines ordered but not delivered, promises made by 1855 and repeatedly broken as well as advice on the legal options available.     

Many customers have concluded that the only way to get 1855 to deliver their wines or obtain compensation is to go to court. Only last week a customer was offered by 1855’s lawyers before a Parisian court double the purchase price in compensation for his undelivered en primeurs from vintages 2005 and 2008. Surely a clear indication that 1855 failed to buy the wines this client ordered.

It would be great if you would warn your readers that buying 2011 en primeurs through 1855 and their associated companies – Cave Privée and ChâteauOnline – is all too likely to lead to disappointment and non-delivery of the wines ordered.

Much better to order en primeurs from more reliable and reputable companies. 

1855 and Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855
During your stay in Bordeaux it would also be great if you would express your disappointment at the woeful and supine response by the Union des Grands and the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés to the long running scandal of 1855.

With a few honourable exceptions, such as Château Smith-Haut-Laffitte, the leading estates of Bordeaux have failed to warn purchasers of their wines of the well-documented dangers of buying Bordeaux en primeurs through 1855. Their response to this scandal has been shameful and craven, especially as they are certainly in a position to issue a strongly worded warning in relation to 1855. Instead the Union and the Conseil have sat on their hands and said nothing. 

Please ask the Union and the Conseil when they are going to speak up or are they content to see people who buy their wines fleeced?    

Anything you can do to highlight and warn potential buyers dealing with 1855 will be much appreciated. You have the power to make a difference!


**

'Management' and leading shareholder of 1855 
Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon are the senior 'management' team of 1855 (1855.com, 1855.con). Businessman Jean-Pierre Meyers, who is on the boards of L'Oreal and Nestlé, is a long-term shareholder of 1855. He is the husband of Françoise Bettencourt, whose mother is the Oréal heiress: Liliane Bettencourt

1855 is a probationary member of La Fevad.



(This open letter has also been posted on Les 5 du Vin.)

  
 




     

Monday, 26 March 2012

John Avery MW: 27th December 1941 – 23rd March 2012

John Avery MW at the André Simon Awards on 15th March 2012
Befittingly with glass in hand as I'm sure he would wish to be remembered 

Very sorry to hear that John Avery MW died in his sleep on Friday 23rd May following a heart attack on Wednesday 21st March. I had heard of the attack but it was not until this morning that I was aware he had died on Friday. John was one of the last of the grand old personalities of the old UK wine trade – not that he confined his interest and enthusiasm to the classic areas. He was a pioneer in many regions outside Europe. 

I last saw John on the evening of 15th March at the André Simon Memorial Awards at the Goring Hotel in London. He appeared to be in fine form and full of his customary good humour as these two photos show. My condolences to his family.    

An obituary and appreciation of John Avery MW by Jancis Robinson MW is here

  
John Avery MW at the André Simon Awards on 15th March 2012




**



John@the Decanter Wine Awards Regional Chairs' lunch: April 2009 

He was the Regional Chair for South Africa

A new player in Montlouis

Aynard de Clermont-Tonnerre amongst the vines@Les Boulayes
Aynard de Clermont-Tonnerre: "what a ridiculous angle!"


In January 2012 Aynard and Isabelle Clérmont de Tonnerre concluded a deal with Michel Antier, which gave them access to 22 hectares of Montlouis – some already planted 13.5 ha in two parcels: Les Boulayes and Les Batisses. These parcels used to belong to Olivier Deletang, who for personal and financial reasons, sold up in 2009 to Michel Antier – the largest landowner in Montlouis.  

Aynard de Clermont Tonnerre with Michel Antier 


In turn Antier decided that he now had too much land, so has started to sell off  a few of his parcels. This has allowed Aynard de Clermont-Tonnerre to rent Les Batisses on a long contact and Les Boulayes but with the option to buy the latter in a couple of years. Aynard and Isabelle already have 22 hectares of vines at the Clos du Porteau in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher as Appellation Touraine. Following the Montlouis deal, they have given back some of 12ha of their rented vines in AC Touraine to the their owner, leaving them with 10 hectares mainly planted with Sauvignon Blanc with some Cabernet Franc and Côt in addition. 


 Aynard amongst the old Chenin vines: Les  Boulayes

At Les Batisses, which is just to the north of Jacky Blot's Le Clos Mosny, all 11 hectares are planted, while at Les Boulayes, about a kilometre or so further east, only 2.5 hectares are currently in production with a potential 8.5 hectares to plant. This year the vineyard will be farmed organically and next year will see the start of conversion to biodynamics. 

After the visit we tasted a couple of Olivier Delétang's wines from 2009 – his last vintage. Firstly Les Batisses sec followed by a Moelleux. Although both were perfectly pleasant, well made and would be a good choice for a wine by the glass in a restaurant or wine bar, neither were at the standard I remember Delétang producing in the past. They lack the concentration and character that would lift them to make them memorable. A question of pushing the yields up towards the maximum permitted?  

Some Cabernet Franc vines@Les Boulayes (not part of the deal)

Elderly Chenin vines@Les Boulayes


Vine@Les Boulayes looking south towards the Cher Valley and Saint-Martin-le-Beau (above and below)




Sunlight on the wires and vines@Les Batisses

The chai@Les Boulayes

The parcel at Les Boulayes comes with a winery. Although the functional building will not win any beauty prizes, Aynard is very pleased to have this facility as apparently it is more difficult to find a winery/chai in Montlouis than vines.   










Sunday, 25 March 2012

Vinocamp Loire – Loi Evin

Session on Le Loi Evin with Arnaud Terrison on right with laptop

The first session I attended at yesterday's Vinocamp-Loire was on the Loi Evin. It is now over 20 years that the Loi Evin (1991) passed into French law. Designed to reduce alcoholism it introduced severe restrictions on how alcohol could be portrayed and advertised in the French media. Arnaud Terrison of Vin et Société (V&S) gave a round up of the current situation. Arnaud explained that that V&S were not against the aim of the law but rather the way that it restricted the way the culture of wine could be portrayed and the confusion that exists over what is allowed under the law.

The case of an article called Le triomphe du Champagne that appeared in the Le Parisien on 21st December 2005 and was subsequently judged to constitute publicity. Several at the session commented that the restrictions of Loi Evin had encouraged creativity in advertising. Perhaps but this is like saying: "I'm glad I lost a limb as it has made me use my remaining limbs more creatively."

In discussion it emerged that there is a considerable amount of auto-censorship by journalists and advertising companies. In addition companies frequently receive letters warning them that a particular campaign or article has overstepped the Evin mark. Not surprisingly there are apparently many more letters sent than cases that come to court.

When the Loi Evin was passed in 1991 the internet as we know now it didn't exist. To date the act has been interpreted to mean that anything not cited as allowed under Evin is banned. Initially mention of alcohol on the net was banned but the law was modified in July 2009 to allow alcohol to be mentioned and advertised on the net. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter now pose considerable problems for application of the Loi Evin – difficult to pursue potentially multiple breaches of the Loi Evin by bloggers, tweeters etc. especially on sites that are not based in France. To date the tendency is to pursue only large drinks, media companies or the Interprofessions, although there appears to be a reluctance to take on media stars like Jean-Pierre Coffe.

It appears clear that in these changed times the Loi Evin needs both modification and clarification.

Sunday lunch@Le Lézard Vert, Epeigné-les-Bois

 Group enjoying a drink outside@Le Lézard Vert  in the warm March sunshine

Nacer with a tagine ready for the table

Lunch on a Saturday or Sunday at Le Lézard Vert, Epeigné-les-Bois is becoming increasingly popular.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Epeigné-les-Bois: sell before the roof falls in

The small patch of ground with the building behind

There is probably an old French maxim about making sure that you sell your property before the roof falls in. Here is an example of what can happen if you leave it too long and the roof collapses in on itself.

This small patch of ground with the building behind on Epeigné's Rue de la Fontaine has been for sale for some time. The seller's price was between 10,000 and 15,000€. Or it was before the roof fell in.


Collapsed roof

Now the commune of Epeigné will be buying the plot of land and building for 5500€. There is a moral here somewhere!