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




Friday, 29 April 2016

2016 Loire frost – nos pensées et condolences aux nos amis vignerons ligériens but let the good times roll again!

 L'Amour toujours L'Amour

The news this week has been grim and there will be time tomorrow to post an update on the damage caused by the frost of 27th April. Now, however, at the weekend it is the moment to remember some of the good times that will surely return despite today's darkness. My Decanter news report on frost here.

Let the good times roll encore !


Ripe Cabernet Franc

 At Café de la Promenade, Bourgueil 

Harvest time 
(above and below)





Barca in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil

Vitiloire

The eve of Les Grandes Tablées 2015

 Les Grandes Tablées 2015


 Tasting recent vintages of Bourgueil.....



Château de Chenonceau


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Frost in Loire the night of 26th/27th April 2016 – grim and heartbreaking news (an update)


La nature est parfois difficile avec ceux qui pour autant l'aime encore.
Exemple confirmée à La Charpenterie.
Photo by 
Near La Chapelle-sur-Loire 
(Photo taken from a post by Sabrina Cyprien Caslot-Bourdin.
I hope my use of her very sad photo will be acceptable.) 


Sadly the news coming out of the Loire continues to be largely grim

Unfortunately due to my commitments as the Regional Chair for the Loire at the Decanter World Wine Awards this week at Tobacco Dock, it has been difficult to spend much time checking on the damage caused by the frost early in the morning of Wednesday 27th April.  

Central Vineyards 
A brief update from Benoît Roumet, director of Les Vins du Centre Loire:

Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Reuilly have been hit to varying degrees in places very severely. He will have a better idea of the damage next week. However, once again Sancerre appears to have been lucky with apparently little damage.

Touraine – Vallée du Cher 
Report from Vincent Lacour, Domaine Lacour, Saint-Georges–sur-Cher:
'Sur St Georges tous les bas de coteaux sont gelés et même certains endroits sur les hauts des coteaux.

Aucune exploitation n'est épargné avec des situations différentes allant de 10 a 80 % de perte selon les exploitations.

La situation va etre tres compliqué car les stocks sont bas et les récoltes faibles des années précédentes ont fragilisés les trésoreries. Beaucoup d'exploitation vont se retrouver dans des situations critiques et on se demande comment les marchés vont réagir.

A priori plus on va vers St Aignan moins il y a de degats mais des secteurs comme Couffy, Lye and Saint-Romain a priori sont très touchés également

Bléré est tres touchés egalement et sur Civray c'est proche des 90% de degats.

Voila ce que je peux dire pour l'instant j'en saurais plus cette apres-midi, mais on connaitra le bilan veritable la semaine prochaine.

(Vincent reports that many parts of Saint Georges-sur-Cher, which is the commune in the Cher Valley with the most significant area under vine, has been hit especially the lower parts of the coteaux but even some parcels of vines high up have suffered damage. No-one has escaped with losses ranging from 10%-80%. 

As you move further east up the Cher Valley towards Saint-Aignan the damage appears to be less but the communes of Couffy and Lye to the east of Saint-Aignan have been hit as has Saint-Romain to the north of Saint-Aignan. 

West of Saint-Georges-sur-Cher – Civray has been very badly hit as has Bléré. 

Pays Nantais
Damage reported here and in the Fiefs Vendéens.

Vouvray
Benoît Gautier, Domaine de la Châtaigneraie, Vouvray is reporting considerable damage to some of his parcels of vines.            
 
Better news: Jérôme Billard, Domaine de la Noblaie, Ligré, AOP Chinon repoprts that only 20% of his vines have been affected and I believe these are mainly the Cabernet Franc vines that Jérôme uses to make his rosé which are not the best parcels and on the lower part of a slope that would be frost prone.  
 
••

Now that the Loire DWWA judging is now over, I will have time to get fuller information, so I expect to post further updates in the days to come. 

 
   


 




Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Frost in Loire the night of 26th/27th April 2016 – grim and heartbreaking news

La nature est parfois difficile avec ceux qui pour autant l'aime encore.
Exemple confirmée à La Charpenterie.
Photo by 
Near La Chapelle-sur-Loire 
(Photo taken from a post by Sabrina Cyprien Caslot-Bourdin.
I hope my use of her very sad photo will be acceptable.) 


Parts of the Loire were hit by a sharp frost early this morning with temperatures falling well below zero, with reports of temperatures as low as -6˚ in some places

My concern started late last night with reports of plunging temperatures, clear skies and photos of candles, frost pots, etc. out in the vineyards in an attempt to save the fragile vine buds. 

My concern grew at 5am BST when I saw photos on Facebook of thermometer temperatures down to -2˚. Worst fears were soon confirmed within a few hours.   


Today was the third day tasting Loire wines at The Decanter World Wine Awards. Although we tasted some very good wines, especially from the 2014 and 2015 vintages, the bad new from the Loire for the 2016 vintage was always at the forefront of my mind. 

It is difficult at the moment, and from a distance, to know how bad and how widespread this frost has been. Certainly some vineyards have suffered catastrophic losses with the 2016 vintage already wiped out or virtually so. 

The damage appears to be worst in Bourgueil, Chinon, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Azay-le-Rideau. Reports also suggest that Vouvray, Montlouis and Noble Joué may have been badly hit. 

Vineyards in the Loir-et-Cher may have been less badly hit. In any case it will take a few days to really be able to evaluate the damage. 

Frost never comes at a good time but this year's frost, and there had been some frost damage during the night of Sunday/Monday 18th April, has come at a particularly bad time. There has been an increasing awareness that there are some very good things happening in the Loire and the wines are increasing in fashion. 

After a number of short vintages, especially 2012 and 2013, many Loire producers' stocks are low and finances already tight. Even 2014 and 2015 for many have not been over-generous – not helped by the ongoing losses to Esca, which typically may be 5-10% a year. 

Although it is a long time back, the stock situation in 1991 – the worst Loire frost in recent memory – may well have been better as 1990 was both a very good but also generous vintage.  

My thoughts are very much with my Loire vigneron friends this evening.      
••

From http://www.boursorama.com:
'Les vignobles en Indre-et-Loire des appellations Chinon, Bourgeuil et Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil ont été durement touchés par des "gelées noires" dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi et "au moins la moitié de la récolte est perdue", selon les responsables du secteur.

"C'est assez clairement une gelée historique, de l'ordre de celle de 1994, et peut-être de 1991", lorsque la presque totalité de la récolte avait été perdue sur ces appellations, a déclaré à l'AFP M. Guillaume Lapaque, directeur des associations viticoles d'Indre-et-Loire et de la Sarthe.

"Tout l'ouest du département a été touché par des gelées allant de -3 à -4°, avec des pointes à -6°, alors que les vignes sont en plein débourrage (ouverture des bourgeons, ndlr), c'est à dire à un moment extrêmement critique", a-t-il précisé.

Pour M. Lapaque, "c'est paradoxalement un effet du réchauffement climatique: les hivers doux avancent la date du débourrage, tandis que les gelées tardives ont toujours lieu à la même époque".'

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Pique-nique Chez Le Vigneron 2016 – Saturday 14th, Sunday 15th and Monday 16th May



The 2016 edition of the excellent Pique-nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant will be held over the long weekend of Saturday 14th to Monday 16th May.   


Pique-nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant®
 
La plus grande aire de pique-nique de France !
Claim PN VIF 2015
 
Les 14, 15 et 16 mai prochain,
40 domaines viticoles du Centre Val de Loire
ouvrent leurs portes en plein vignoble
 
 
Un moment convivial à partager entre amis ou en famille
 
Les Vignerons Indépendants ouvrent leurs portes le temps d’un week-end pour faire découvrir leur métier, leurs vignes, leurs chais, leurs caves au cœur des plus beaux paysages du Val de Loire !
 
Le principe est simple, vous apportez votre pique-nique et le vigneron indépendant vous offre le vin à déguster et vous accueille avec des tables et chaises pour un moment de convivialité garanti.
 
Des activités pour tous et pour tous les âges
 
Les visiteurs, en famille ou entre amis pourront s’amuser et découvrir l’univers des vignerons d’une manière pédagogique et ludique avec des activités comme  les randonnées dans les vignes, les chasses aux trésors, les ateliers culinaires, les concerts de musique, les balades en calèche dans les vignes ou en barque sur la Loire… et bien d’autres encore ! A chaque personnalité ses animations.
 
Un panier-repas rempli de produits locaux
Cette année, les Vignerons Indépendants s’associent à la signature régionale « © du Centre » pour faire gagner,  en amont du pique-nique, des paniers gourmands, remplis de bons produits régionaux : pour que le plaisir soit aussi dans les assiettes et pour contribuer à faire vivre nos régions, notre économie, nos paysages, nos territoires.
 
Préparer son week-end Pique-nique, c’est facile !
Un site internet avec un module de recherche par géo-localisation est mis à disposition des visiteurs pour préparer leur weekend très facilement, à quelques pas de chez eux pour la journée ou pour préparer un week-end dans le vignoble.
 
Plus d’informations sur www.piqueniquechezlevigneron.com

Monday, 25 April 2016

2016 Decanter World Wine Awards

 Presentation of the Red Shirts, who are crucial to the success 
of the competition – looking after the judges 

Today was the first day of the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards at Tobacco Dock. Once again I am the Regional Chair for the Loire as I have been every year since the competition was first launched in 2004. Then there were just over 4000 wines entered – this year there are over 16,000 wines in the competition. 

This Monday I enjoyed tasting with Aristide Spies MS, Laura Patry and Clément Robert MS. For the results you will have to wait a while.....


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Sherries to the fore at the Big Fortifed Tasting


Jerez: 
The annual Big Fortified Tasting (BFT), held in London, is always a great opportunity to taste some really interesting fortified wines. However since the wines are high in alcohol, there is a limit to the number I can comfortably taste, even though I am careful to spit out. This year I chose to concentrate on some of the excellent range of sherries on show choosing to taste from those bodegas that I haven't visited during the #winelover trip to Jerez in mid-February. I then finished with the Quevedo Ports that Oscar Quevedo was showing. 

Firstly – Bodegas Tradición
This is a small bodega, which has recently been revived, but that dates back to 1650. I tasted a lovely fresh, complex Fino, a good Amontillado and a very special Oloroso – see below. 

 


A series of great sherries from Viniberia, selected by Peter Dauthieu:


Attractive, fresh but characterful Fino from Sánchez Romate – just £8.50 a bottle from The Wine Society.


Excellent Amontillado from Sánchez Romate – lovely nutty, texture.


Palo Cortado – an attractive and striking blend of rich texture and an austere finish.
 




Very fine aged Oloroso – texture with a lovely blend of richness, power and austerity. £40 a bottle from The Wine Society.

Valdespino – one of my favourite Sherry producers:


The 2015 Manzanilla En Rama showing brilliantly at the moment. 


Palo Cortado Viejo: lovely balance of power and texture.


Two very special Sherries with concentration, texture and impressive length.


Ports from Quevedo: 


From Port producer Quevedo I particularly enjoyed the complex 30 Year Old Port as well as the dense Crusted Port with its preserved cherry character. 











Saturday, 23 April 2016

Peter Csizmadia-Honigh: The Wines of India book launch


 Peter Csizmadia-Honigh outside the Vintners' Hall, London 
with his Indian book

On Tuesday morning Peter Csizmadia-Honigh launched his book The Wines of India book at the Vintners Hall. Peter won the Geoffrey Roberts Bursary in 2014 with his proposal to write a pioneering book on Indian wine. 

Peter introduced his booking explaining that it is possible to have three harvests during the year. He also stressed that the vines are pruned on twice in the year – in May in preparation for the monsoon season – and then in August and September. The main grape varieties planted are French and Italian. These include Chenin Blanc – the most planted variety, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sangiovese and Nero d'Avola.  

After Peter's presentation there was a tasting of 31 Indian wines with rather patchy results. Many of the reds were too heavily oaked with harsh tannins. Time for a bonfire of wooden staves!

The wines that impressed:

White 
2015 Chenin Blanc, Soul Tree 
2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Sula Vineyards
2015 Dindori Reserve Viognier, Sula Vineyards 
2014 Sauvignon Blanc, York Winery   

Rosé
2015 Rosé, York Winery – 100% Zinfandel  

Red
2014 Misfit, Myra Vineyards  – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
2014 Shiraz, Soul Tree
2014 Dindori Reserve Shiraz, Sula Vineyards   

••

The Wines of India, a Concise Guide £25

        























Friday, 22 April 2016

London SE23: Much a Ado in Forest Hill – tomorrow Saturday 23rd April 2016



Tomorrow on 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death there will be three promenade performances by the Teatro Vivo Theatre Company at 11am, 12pm and 1pm. The performances will start in the Forest Hill Railway Station forecourt.  

Champagne Jayne is officially back! Still needs help after CIVC battering!




'Great news everyone! Champagne Jayne is officially back! ...as seen on The Project Friday 22nd April.
She might be back but she still carries the financial burden and scars as the result of the last horrific 3 years she has lost due to the trial with the CIVC.

To be able to fully recover she still needs all of our support. So lets help this wonderful lady smile again.

If you and your friends and colleagues could please help her by donating the price of a cup of coffee...the amount would grow very quickly, and Champagne Jayne could devote her time doing what she does best. 

The end to the pain and stress could be very close with your help. Please share this campaign with all your social media contacts.' 

Just a small donation – price of a fashionable coffee – from many people would make a big difference.  

I have just donated. What about you please?

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Pinards & Jus d'Ancenis: 21st May 2016 Nantes


'Rendez-vous samedi 21 mai à Nantes, quai de Versaille, de 10h30 à 16h, pour une dégustation des vins des vignerons de Pinard et Jus : le Raisin à Plume, Philippe Chevarin, Adrien Bouzonville, Ferme du Moulin, le Planti du Roty, Les Champs Jumeaux, Landron-Chartier, la Paonnerie
-Venez nous voir !'

More details here on Facebook

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Photos from Thorman Hunt tasting and The Real Wine Fair

 Christophe Surget, Couly Dutheil, Chinon
Christophe will be busy taking on 
some of the responsibilities of the late Jacques Couly

A few photos of Loire producers from the Thorman Hunt tasting on Monday 18th April at The Merchants Taylors Hall in the City of London.

 Loïc Cailbourdin, Domaine Alain Cailbourdin, Pouilly-Fumé 
2015 Les Cornets, Pouilly-Fumé showing well +
2012 Triptyque

 Jean-Pierre Chevallier, Château de Villeneuve, 
Saumur/Saumur-Champigny 
2014 Grand Clos Saumur-Champigny 
showing a lot of finesse

Maud and Firmin Dézat, André Dézat
Firmin rather in the shadow of Maud here –
I must remember not to stop the camera down 
so low when using the 85 lens! 
I particularly liked their 2015 Pouilly-Fumé Domaine Thibault


The Real Wine Fair, Tobacco Dock, Wapping, London  
After the Thorman Hunt tasting I headed to Tobacco Dock and The Real Wine Fair.

 Brendan Tracey, Domaine le Clocher, Vendôme
above and below


 Hervé Villemade, Domaine du Moulin, Cour-Cheverny

 Louis Germain, Domaine des Roches Neuves, 
Saumur, Saumur-Champigny

 Louis, son of Thierry who for the moment 
does not talk quite as fast as his dad...



Pierre Breton, Domaine Catherine & Pierre Breton,
Bourgueil and Vouvray 
(above and below)



 Benoît Landron, Domaine Landron-Chartier, 
Coteaux d'Ancenis
 (above and below)
 !!!

 Marc Pesnot, Domaine de la Sénéchalière, Pays Nantais

Good to taste with Marc Pesnot again. He makes very interesting Vin de France wines from the Pays Nantais using Folle Blanche and Melon de Bourgogne using nuitage a process of long maceration (overnight or more) before pressing the ripe grapes with grande pression to extract more matter from the skins.   



Staying with the Pays Nantais good to see Jo Landron back fully fit after his nasty fall last summer, although he still finds it impossible to fully raise his left (?) arm fully. Fortunately this is not too great a handicap as Jo is able to raise a glass to the required height to drink comfortably. I enjoyed his 2014 Melonix (Vin de France), 2013 Le Fief du Breuil and 2015 La Louvetrie – both Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine.



Alex Thorp, under the bonnet, 161 Kirkdale (@161Kirk)

Staying the Nantais area I met Alex Thorp, who was serving Matthieu l'Hotelier's Les Champs Jumeaux wines. Alex is part of under the bonnet Ltd, who imports these wines, as well as the Sydenham wine bar in London 161 Kirkdale.   

Before setting up Les Champs Jumeaux in 2012 Matthieu, who is an electronic musician,  did a taster course on winemaking while on the dole and then worked with Marc Pesnot. Les Champs Jumeaux (2.5 hectares) is in the commune of Montrelais at the eastern end of the Coteaux d'Ancenis appellation. There used to be 300 hectares of vines in this commune but now only those of Les Champs Jumeaux remain. The whites are made from Chenin Blanc, the red from a blend of Gamay and Grolleau, and the rosé from Gamay and a hybrid.