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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

2017 Loire: David Vigan (Château du Breuil)

 Château du Breuil, Beaulieu sur Layon

After our quick visit to the Quarts de Chaume we bumped into David Vigan, who has been the régisseur at Château du Breuil since 2006. Time for a quick chat about the 2017 vintage.

David explained that they had started picking for their Crémant at the end of August before moving onto their dry whites. He was pleased with the quality and commented on the very expressive aromas from the reds during fermentation. The Cabernets, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon had come in at 14% potential. Yields from their Grolleau were low due to frost and then the drought. There was little juice in the berries. 

Like many others they had been badly hit by frost in Savennières. They normally make between 7000-7500 litres there but this year there will be just 1000 litres.  

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Wines @La Promenade, Le Petit Pressigny on 6th October 2017

Michel Autran, Cap à l'ouest, 
Brut Nature, Vin de France
based in Vouvray 

Seven of us gathered for a celebratory lunch at La Promenade, Le Petit Pressigny on Friday 6th October. We started with Michel Autran's lovely sparkling wine, which is fermented in barrel and then transferred to bottle. Brightly clean and crisp, this underlines how good Michel's wine have become. 

Then for our first courses and the fish we briefly left the Loire for Burgundy and this fine Saint-Aubin. Then we came back to the Loire with a bang with a duo of Foucaults – their Saumur-Champigny 2010 and 2011. It was the 2011 that Xavier Fortin, the star sommelier at La Promenade, had on the list. Very kindly he let us have one of his last 2010s that he had squirreled away someone. 

The contrast between the 2010 and 2011 was fascinating. The 2011 is still fairly closed with quite marked acidity in the finish. In contrast the 2010 is a real delight with lovely texture, some opulence, complexity and length. Xavier believes that with more time in bottle the 2011 will equal the 2010. Maybe but I am far from sure.  

It was very good to be able to drink these two Foucault wines as you have to wonder whether under the new ownership these wines will become even more expensive.  

2012 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Clos de la Chatenière Vieilles Vignes 
Hubert Lamy

2010 and 2011 Saumur Champigny 
Clos Rougeard, Frères Foucault

Monday, 16 October 2017

2017 Loire – Quarts de Chaume: Grand Cru status comes with responsibilities

 Track to Les Martinières

After visiting Domaines de la Bergerie and Ogereau last Tuesday we had a very quick look at what fruit was left to pick in the Quarts de Chaume. We took part of the the track up to Les Martinières. 

With no claims that what I saw was representative of the Grand Cru appellation this year – we only looked at a small part and this is well into the harvest – but the fruit management looked worrying variable. On some vines there were clumps of  bunches with individual vines looking to carry a substantial weight of grapes. Under the 2011 regulations that set up Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru the maximum weight of grapes on each individual vine is set at 1.7 kilos – for the remaining Vignes Larges (more widely spaced vines) 2.5 kilos are allowed. 

I have been a strong supporter of Quarts de Chaume becoming a Grand Cru, which it did in 2011. However, the Grand Cru status surely imposes certain responsibilities and accepting a commitment to very high quality on all of the producers. There are 20 producers with just 29 hectares in the Quarts de Chaume. Given that two producers – Baumard and Suronde – have some 12 of these 29 hectares – that means that the average for the remaining 18 producers is less than a hectare. Allied this with the status of grand cru and price that these wines can command, there should be no excuse for less than impeccable viticulture in the Quarts de Chaume. Otherwise the consumer is being taken for a ride, which is exactly the reason I have been critical of Baumard's methods.

Grand cru viticulture?  
You cannot be serious!    

I should make it clear that none of the vines in the photos below belong to Domaine des Baumard. On this occasion we didn't have time to visit any of their parcels.

Mix of botrytis and golden grapes 
– typical of Chenin's variable ripening 
– on this well spaced out bunch

Similarly above and below

Some spread out bunches but two clumps 
– just 1.7 kilos of grapes on this vine? 

Surely the bunches on these vines should have been thinned 
Is this viticulture of grand cru standard? 
(above and two below) 

Grand Cru viticulture?


Sunday, 15 October 2017

2007 – two whites showing very well – Saumur and Chinon

2007 Chinon,  Château de Saint Louand (Baudry-Dutour)
2007 Saumur Château de Villeneuve 

Here are white Loires now at ten years old – both 100% Chenin Blanc, both showing extremely well and surely good for a number of more years. Both have taken on a more golden colour than when they were first bottled – this is particularly true of the 2007 Chinon. They have both gained complexity in bottle with some slight aged oxidative notes, which are not at all problematic as they just add complexity. Both remain very clean, fresh and delight to drink. 

The Saumur from Château de Villeneuve is the 'generic' cuvée and not the prestige Les Cormiers. Château de Saint Louand is a Baudry-Dutour prestige cuvée coming from vines planted on limestone on the heights above and to the west of the centre of Chinon. Vinified and aged in oak I detected some wood notes that added to the complexity rather than detracting. This Chinon Blanc is closed with a superior Lux Plus srewcap.

2007 was a latish vintage after a poor summer but with a good autumn. The 2007s have a real Loire backbone of racy acidity. This vintage is another example that, given the diversity of Loire wines, it is rare to find a vintage that is good/ideal for all styles. 2007 dry whites and sweets are generally superior to the reds. 

I have little doubt that these two wines will still be showing well in another ten years.           

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Breton bees in red bonnets (Les Bonnets Rouges) invade InterLoire .....

Christmas appears to have come 
early at InterLoire's Tours office....
(Photo credit: Les Bonnets Rouge)

Yesterday around 5pm eight members of Les Bonnets Rouges interrupted business at the main offices of InterLoire in Tours. Claiming that Muscadet is a 'Vin Breton' (wine from Brittany) and not the Loire, they demanded that InterLoire should cease to allegedly force producers, under a new rule that came into force on 1st August 2017, to put 'Val de Loire' on their bottles of Muscadet, Gros-Plant, Côteaux d’Ancenis etc. 

Jean-Martin Dutour 
Président of InterLoire 

The invaders demanded that InterLoire immediately change the new rules. They also demanded to meet with Jean-Martin Dutour, the current President of InterLoire.

Dutour reported that "Je leur ai dit qu'ils se trompaient de cible" (They had got the wrong target) and he told them to go and see the Fédération des Vins de Nantes.

Press release (13th October 2017) from Les Bonnets Rouges – Les Frélons:  
'Le pays Nantais fait partie de la Bretagne depuis plus de dix siècles et aucun découpage administratif ne peut faire disparaître cette vérité. Nier l’appartenance de la Loire-Atlantique à la Bretagne est une pourriture grise, une combinaison d’arrogance bureaucratique et d’inculture.
Muscadet, Gros-Plant, Côteaux d’Ancenis… Ce sont nos vins bretons.  InterLoire, l’interprofession des vins du Val de Loire les a annexés. Elle cultive la confusion et le mensonge dans l’esprit des Français et des consommateurs étrangers, au détriment de nos vins traditionnels.

Un fleuve ne crée ni un pays, ni un terroir, ni une identité.

Depuis le 1er Août 2017, les nouveaux statuts d'InterLoire oblige les appellations des vins nantais à indiquer leur appartenance au Val de Loire. Les récents accords interprofessionnels indiquent qu'il est obligatoire de mentionner  "Val de Loire" sur les bouteilles. Tout ceci est absurde et inacceptable.

Les vins bretons n’ont rien à faire avec les vins du Val de Loire.
Le pays nantais n’a rien à faire avec la région des Pays de Loire.
A partir d’aujourd’hui, vendredi 13 octobre 2017, nous occupons les locaux d’InterLoire (qui se situent à Tours. NDLR) pour dénoncer ce double scandale.
Ce que nous voulons dans l'immédiat : la modification des statuts d'InterLoire.'

In response to the invasion of InterLoire's office in Tours the Fédération des Vins de Nantes issued a statement disassociating themselves from the actions of Les Bonnets Rouges in Tours. The statement points out that the use of Val de Loire is optional and that the Vins de Nantes are both part of the Loire basin and naturally attached to Brittany.   

Press release (13th October 2017) from the Fédération des Vins de Nantes 


Suite au communiqué adressé par le groupe des « Bonnets Rouges » concernant le Muscadet et InterLoire et l’action d’occupation des locaux d’InterLoire à Tours engagé par ce même groupe ce jour, la Fédération des Vins de Nantes par la voix de son Président Christian GAUTHIER déclare : 

« Nous ne connaissons pas lidentité des personnes qui mènent cette action ni leur relation avec la viticulture. Sur la forme, nous condamnons toute action dintimidation de ce type pour défendre des idées et porter des revendications. Nous nous désolidarisons des prises de position de ce groupe qui nest en aucun ni légitimé ni mandaté par notre structure professionnelle. 

Sur le fond, la Fédération ne sengagera sur aucune position politique concernant les enjeux territoriaux car ce nest pas la nature de sa mission. Les Vins de Nantes appartiennent au bassin du Val de Loire tout en revendiquant leur attachement naturel à la Bretagne, à son identité et à sa culture. Par ailleurs, il est fait allusion dans leur communiqué dune obligation dindiquer sur la bouteille la mention « Val de Loire » pour les AOC de Nantes. Nos obligations réglementaires concernant létiquetage sont encadrées dans nos cahiers des charges dappellation et la mention « Val de Loire » est facultative. » 



The organisation Les Bonnets Rouges has a serious purpose – see history here and here. However, it is difficult to take their action in Tours yesterday seriously as producers in the Pays Nantais are not forced to put Val de Loire on their wine bottles. The use of the term is optional as the Vins de Nantes Federation points out.   

Friday, 13 October 2017

Epeigné-les-Bois – many gather to say farewell to Patrick Guignard

Large crowd gathered in front of the church as the church was full
The road by the church was closed for the funeral service

Today a large number of Patrick Guignard's family, friends and colleagues gathered at the church in Epeigné-les-Bois to say farewell to Patrick. The church was full with a large crowd outside. It showed very clearly the affection and respect in which Patrick was held. 

Patrick served two terms on Epeigné's Conseil Municipal (1995-2008) and for 20 years (1997-2017) was the Président of the village's Comité des Fêtes and very much its driving force. 

Born in nearby Francueil Patrick grew up in Epeigné going to the village school. Among today's congregation were some of his classmates, who had known Patrick all their lives. This was a particularly sad and moving day for them.   

Patrick died from a heart attack in his allotment on Saturday 7th October. 

Our thoughts are with Anne, his wife, and family.   

From La Nouvelle République
Disparition brutale de Patrick Guignard, ancien conseiller
(Publié le | Mis à jour le
Nous apprenons le décès brutal de Patrick Guignard, personnage qui a marqué la vie d’Épeigné-les-Bois de par son engagement dans sa commune en tant que conseiller municipal durant deux mandats de 1995 à 2008 mais aussi dans le tissu associatif.

Lire la suite

Thursday, 12 October 2017

2016 La Cerisaie, Domaine de la Bergerie: simply delicious

La Cerisaie is Domaine de la Bergerie's Anjou Rouge. Made from 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottled after a minimum of nine months in vat it is everything an Anjou Rouge ought to be – soft delicious fruit, little structure, no harsh tannins. In a word – just simply delicious, pure pleasure! At just under 7€ from the domaine this is a bargain. Drink young to enjoy the lovely fresh fruit. Vin des copains....

There is a place for structured reds from Anjou but that should be reserved for Anjou Villages with a longer maturation, more structure and aging potential.   

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

2017 Loire in Anjou – Anne, Marie & Yves Guegniard, Emmanuel, Catherine and Vincent Ogereau

Yesterday we headed across westwards to Anjou to check on progress with the 2017 harvest. We were well aware that the 2017 harvest is virtually over. We dropped in the see the Guegniard family – Anne, Marie, Marie-Annick and Yves (Domaine de la Bergerie) – and also caught up with Jean-Michel Monnier, their wine consultant who happened to be visiting at the same time.

They have virtually finished the harvest – there just remain a couple of tris in Chaume and Quarts de Chaume. Picking started pretty early on 4th September. Fortunately they have been less hit by frost in 2017 than they were last year. However, in the Moulin de Beaupreau (Savennières), which they share with the Ogereaus and Papins, was badly hit by frost where they lost two thirds. The Ogereaus lost even more – virtually 100%. Luckily the Guiegniard family's La Croix Pichot, a parcel further east in the Savennières appellation was not hit by the frost. The Guegniards' La Croix Pichot is excellent and offers very good value at just under 14 euros from the estate. 

Unusually in 2017 the Cabernet here on schist was picked earlier than the Cabernet on limestone in Saumur – normally it is the other way round. 

On 4th October they did their first tri in the Quarts de Chaume, which came in at 21˚ potential, while Chaume was at 20˚. This year for the first time they have made an Anjou Sec from golden grapes in Chaume. The aim is to eventually create a Anjou Villages 1er Cru from a range of recognised sectors each with their own name. The intention is to give the top dry whites from the Anjou Blanc appellation great cachet than they currently have. Producers in Chaume and Quarts de Chaume are apparently the furthest advanced. However, I suspect that it will be some considerable time before this new designation will be accepted by the INAO and come to fruition.  

       Anne, Jean-Michel, Marie, Yves and CRM 

 Jean-Michel Monnier takes a sample from their 'egg', 
which is made from sandstone 

 Marie Guegniard

Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay:

Emmanuel Ogereau with their Vent de Spilite, 
which they hope will be an eventual Anjou Blanc Cru 

The Ogereaus have also nearly finished picking – just a last tri in the Quarts de Chaume – Les Martinières – and a parcel of Layon to finish. 

They started early – 1st September. By 30th September they had harvested their Cabernet Sauvignon parcel on the Côte de la Houssaye, which is remarkably early. Because of severe frost damage there will sadly be no Savennières this year. What few grapes they did pick have been combined with a small amount of dry wine harvested in their Quarts de Chaume parcel making just a barrel.

The first Quart de Chaume tri was on 25th September with grapes reaching a potential of 19.5%. For the second tri the potential was 22%.    

As at the Domaine de la Bergerie we tasted some nascent 2017 Chenin Blanc and again the juice was very clean with good length.  

Harvest virtually over the Ogereaus can relax:
Vincent, Emmanuel and Catherine 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Touraine-Amboise to plant vines from the Château to the Clos Lucé starting 14th October

From La Nouvelle République (9.10.2017)
Pour célébrer son 50e anniversaire, la commanderie des vins d’Amboise organise samedi une plantation de pieds de vignes en plein cœur de la cité.

Elle voulait créer un événement qui marque son cinquantième anniversaire tout en faisant la promotion d’un terroir et de son appellation. La commanderie des grands vins d’Amboise a décidé d’organiser une plantation de pieds de vignes au cœur de la cité, au pied des murailles du château royal. Une première en Touraine !' 

Read the rest here

Eventually the vines will stretch from the Château d'Amboise to the Clos Lucé. 

Programme: 14th October 2017 
15 h rue Nationale : Déambulation des confréries
15 h 30 place Debré : Plantation solennelle des vignes
17 h grange de Négron : Chapitre du cinquantenaire

20 h 30 Clos Lucé : Soirée de gala

Pratique : Animations gratuites. Soirée de gala (cocktail, repas, animation) 88 €. Informations et renseignements sur et au

Promotion hope
AC Touraine-Amboise is aiming to become a separate appellation  – AC Touraine by 2025 based on Côt and Chenin Blanc. 

Monday, 9 October 2017

L'eglise @Epeigné-les-Bois – more photos of the restoration work

Series of photos on the progress in renovating the church @Epeigné-les-Bois. The workers from Hory Chauvelin in Avoine appear to be real craftsmen.  

September 25th 2017

Work on the rounded roof at the eastern of the church. Fitting the timbers like a bow of a ship.  

26th September 2017

27th September 2017

 Also working on the lower north side roof
(above and below)

 Pliable slats moving higher

29th September 2017

 Further progress on covering the roof

 Right at the apex

 Work continues on the small roof

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Epeigné-les-Bois: répas des jeunes anciennes

Yesterday was Epeigné-les-Bois annual lunch for the over-60s held in the Salles de Fêtes. Very sadly the lunch was overshadowed by the sudden death of Patrick Guignard from a heart attack earlier in the day. Patrick was a former President of Epeigné's Comité des Fêtes

Scenes from the lunch:

 The cheese maestros 
(Above and below)

Party time!
Faire la fête !