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

Friday, 22 December 2017

Oz Clarke's World of Wine – wine, grapes, vineyards – Warning the Loire is dangerous not 'listless' or 'lazy summer'

Oz Clarke's World of Wine – wine, grapes, vineyards, 
Pavilion 320 pages £30 (UK), $40 (US), $45 (Canada)

After some brief introductory sections, this latest book from Oz Clarke profiles the vineyards of the world starting with France and ending with Asia – Vietnam is the last country to be included.

Inevitably in a book covering the whole world of wine the profiles are broad and general. 

Regrettably on page 92 Oz continues to characterise the River Loire as 'listless' 'ambling', 'caught in a reverie'  and with 'children paddle in the shallows'. 

Oz's introduction to the Loire section: 
'I sometimes wonder whether the Loire River is just too long for its own good. It starts brightly enough, cascading and splashing out of the Ardèche gorges only 50km (31 miles) west of the Rhône at Valence full of purpose and vivacity. But by the time the river gets to Pouilly and Sancerre, sites of its first world famous wines, the initial breezy seaward flow has slowed to a walk. As the river makes its great arc northwards to Orléans past the haunting Sologne marshes, and then loops wearily south and west, through Blois, Tours, Angers, Nantes and finally to the Atlantic at St-Nazaire, the walk slows to an amble, the motion of the water so listless that the valley seems caught in a reverie, completely unconcerned about reaching its destination on the turbulent shores of the Bay of Biscay. Great gravel banks push through the river's surface, children paddle in the shallows, parents picnic and gossip on the warm pebbles. It doesn't seem as though the lazy summer Loire has the character to be a wine river, home of some of the most thrilling and individual wines in France.'   

Although it is true that the Loire can appear lazy and benign, it can actually be very dangerous because of its current and constantly shifting sand banks. Because of these dangers swimming in the Loire is banned in a number of places including Amboise and Tours. I have great respect for Oz but this flight of fancy is dangerous nonsense. At the very least there should be a warning of the dangers the Loire can pose. 

Over the years the Loire has claimed many victims usually through drowning. The worst loss of life being on 18th July 1969 when 19 school kids were drowned in the Loire at Juigné-sur-Loire. 

There are frequent warnings in the local media about the danger of bathing in the Loire – see below:

Headline from Ouest-France:
À Juigné-sur-Loire, on n'a pas oublié les 19 enfants noyés
Baignade interdite : les dangers de la Loire - YouTube


Les dangers de la Loire : 11 conseils qui peuvent vous sauver la vie

 1st July 2015


Baignade en Loire: attention danger - YouTube


Unfortunately not only is Oz's description of the Loire inaccurate but because of the dangers the river poses it is dangerously inaccurate.   

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