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

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Fast approaching Loire dates for your diary


Biotyfoule21 vigneronnes et vignerons bio tourangeaux vous donnent rendez-vous dans le hall de la Mairie de Tours les samedi 24 et dimanche 25 novembre 2018 pour la 9e édition de Biotyfoule.

Alors que les Français n'ont jamais été autant intéressés par les vins bio, cet événement sera l'occasion de découvrir qui se cache derrière les étiquettes. De Bourgueil à Vouvray, en passant par Montlouis, Azay-le-Rideau, Amboise ou Chinon, les producteurs présenteront leurs cuvées issues des cépages locaux travaillés en agriculture biologique certifiée. Vous évoluerez de stand en stand, comme lors d'une balade au cœur des terroirs tourangeaux.

Dégustation et vente. Accès libre, verre à dégustation : 5€.
Hôtel de Ville de Tours, samedi 24 de 11h à 19h, dimanche 25 de 10h à 18h.
Ouvert aux particuliers et aux professionnels. Petite restauration bio sur place. Ateliers du goût gratuits.



Anges Vins details here.


Saumur Salon

Details of Saumur Salon: 1st and 2nd December.  


La Boire

La BoireSalon de vins bio et naturelsSamedi 1 et dimanche 2 décembre 2018Au Wattignies Social Club, sur l’île de Nantes


Manu et Marion Landron-Pescheux, domaine Complémen'Terre (Muscadet);
Jacques et Agnès Carroget, domaine La Paonnerie (Pinards et Jus); Marie Carroget et Sandra Chenal (Nord Loire); Johan Chassé (Pinards et Jus); Philippe Chevarin (Pinards et Jus); Adrien De Mello, domaine de la Petite Sœur (Anjou); Stéphane Delettre (Bourgueil); Jacques Février, domaine Le Raisin à Plume (Pinards et Jus); Xavière Hardy (Pinards et Jus); Mathieu Lhotellier (Pinards et Jus); Marc Pesnot, domaine La Sénéchalière; Rémy Sédès (Pinards et Jus); Thibault Stephan (Saumur Puy- Notre-Dame); David Landron, l’Aufrère (Muscadet); Benoit, Bernard et Françoise Landron, domaines Landron- Chartier (Pinards et Jus); Emilie Brunet Tourette, domaine la Tour brune (Anjou);  Igor et Melanie, domaine du Bois Rond (Pinards et Jus); Yoann Gillot, domaine les Vins jardinés (Muscadet)

Julien Albertus, domaine Kumpf-Meyer

Sylvère Trichard, domaine Séléné

Gilles Wicky

Victor Beau, Domaine Inebriati
Patrice Dethil, domaine Calimàs  Rhône Sud
Elodie Aubert, Clos des Cîmes (Rhône Sud)

Romuald Ambitio



Olivier BELLANGER-- Domaine La Piffaudière, Pierre-Olivier BONHOMME-- Domaine Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, Mikaël BOUGES, Alain COURTAULT et Simon TARDIEUX-- Domaine Courtault-Tardieux, Cédric FLEURY--Domaine Les Gauchers, Moses GADOUCHE et Pascal POTAIRE-- Les Capriades, Corinne et Paul GILLET-- Domaine des Maisons brûlées, Jean-Christophe JÉZÉQUEL, Anouk LAVOIE-LAMOUREUX et Paul André RISSE--Domaine Les Jardins de Theseiis, Ariane LESNÉ-- Domaine de Montrieux, Estelle MAÎTRE et François SAINT-LÉGER-- Les Caves de l'Arche Macé, Damien MENUT, Berjan MOL--Domaine La Taupe, Noëlla MORANTIN, Julien PINEAU, Pierre PRADELLE--Domaine des Pies blanches, Vincent ROUSSELY-- Clos Roussely, Jérôme SAUVETE-- Domaine Sauvète, Cyrille SEVIN-- Domaine Cyrille Sevin, Philippe TESSIER-- Domaine Philippe Tessier, Brendan TRACEY, Yann LE POLLOTEC – bière, La PIGEONNELLE – bière

Friday, 16 November 2018

Various from Portugal & France


Open space

Adegga Wine Market on Saturday 1st December 2018 – a date for your diary

Details 1.12.18

This year the winter Adegga Wine Market has a new venue at Armazém 16, Marvila, Lisboa with 70 Produtores Adegga, 500 Vinhos, 5 Chefs, 1 Sala Premium (Premium Room). Scenes from the 2015 Wine Market in Lisbon

There will be a special 'Rising Stars' section with Álvaro Martinho (Douro), Arribas Wine Company (Trás-os-Montes), Herdade da Anta da Cima (Alentejo), Portugal Boutique Winery (Douro), Rosa da Mata (Dão), Titan of Douro (Douro) already confirmed.

It will be interesting to see how the empty space above will be transformed for the Wine Market. If you happen to be in Lisbon on Saturday 1st December then a few hours spent at the Wine Market is highly recommended – a brilliant opportunity to meet some of Portugal's most interesting wine producers, taste their wines and then buy at a discounted price.

Lisbon is booming – a week last Sunday morning we travelled back into Lisbon where we had again had a great meal at Terroso and the streets were mobbed at 1.15 am with traffic jams – true it was the weekend before the Web Summit ...... but even so. Sadly Terroso is now closed on Sundays and Mondays, so long Sunday lunches are now out, so will just have to have long Saturday lunches or even long Tuesday lunches instead.

It is more than a full-time job trying to keep up with all the new bars and restaurant openings in Central Lisbon. During our brief Lisbon visit we did try one new restaurant – Picamiolos, where the influence is very much from the Alentejo. We were very impressed.

Rabbit chops

There were some very creative dishes like the above very crispy rabbit chops – so crispy that you eat the bone and all.

Accorda Guinea Fowl

Acorda is very much a traditional Portuguese recipe – a recipe based on bread and including fish or shellfish often prawns or monkfish. Acorda is a little like a bread porridge. Although well done acorda can be very good, here at Picamiolos the approach was decidedly different. Their acorda of guinea fowl was more akin to a bread and butter pudding without the sweetness – the bread lightly toasted. With this we drank the fascinating and lightly spicy 2013 Mayor from José da Sousa, which is vinified in ceramic amphora that has a very long tradition in the Alentejo dating back to Roman times.

I do hope that Lisbon will ride the boom and continue to offer quality food and drink at a reasonable price wherever you go – one of the big reasons for the the city's current popularity. If it doesn't then there is always a danger that boom can turn rapidly to bust.


Make Mine a Pouilly-Fumé!

2014 La Mine-miner

2014 La Mine

On Friday night we opened the stunning 2014 Barre à Mine, Blanc Fumé de Pouilly from Michel Redde – a combination of lovely rich texture citric fruits edging towards more exotic fruits matching by great clean mineral length. Drinking brilliantly now but clearly capable of aging much longer.

Barre à Mine comes from a special relatively recently created vineyard planted in very flinty ground just off the D4 close to La Roche in the northern end of the Pouilly-Fumé appellation. The Reddes cleared some huge boulders (see below) from ground around an old quarry – hence the name.


Vines struggling through pure flint....


Vignobles & Signatures venture to London (part two)

IMG_8344 (1)

(First published on Les 5 du Vin)

My last week's post covered the Loire producers who were present at the first London tasting. This week covers those producers from other parts of France and whose wines I tasted and impressed me and, in the case of Roger Groult, his cider and Calvados. To make this tasting manageable producers were limited to showing four examples from their range.

Domaine Paul Blanck & Fils
It was good to see Philippe Blanck again and taste the wines which Frédéric, his cousin, makes. The Blanck wines have lovely purity and precision. This was typified by the 2017 Rosenbourg Riesling, from a parcel planted on granite, with its concentration of fruit and length on the palate. No doubt the severe April frost, which reduced yields by 80%, accentuated this wine's precision.  Their 2016 Grand Cru Furstentum, comes from a limestone vineyard, and has lovely mouth-filling texture and again is very long and precise. Surely this has the potential to age for many years.


Domaine Cauhapé
Moving from the eastern end of France to the south-west to Jurançon close to the Pyrénées, I was impressed by all four of the Domaine Cauhapé wines – 2017 Geyser (sec), 2015 La Canopée (sec), 2015 C de Cauhapé (sec) and 2015 Quator. But then Cauhapé has long been a source of fine Jurançon – both sec and moelleux. I'll pick out the richly fruited and textured 2015 Quator (100% Petit Manseng), which is a blend of the best of Cauhapé's range of sweet wines. It has wonderful freshness in the finish to balance the rich fruit.

Coume del Mas 
This domaine, which joined Vignobles & Signatures last year, was created in 2001 by Philippe and Nathalie Gard making Banyuls and Collioure. I was particularly impressed by their 2016 Quadratur Collioure made from 50% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Carignan. Full of rich, concentrated, ripe black fruits it has lovely texture and  very good length.

Les Grisettes

Roger Groult
Although I have tasted and enjoyed Roger Groult's Calvados, I had never tried his cider. The company's origins go back to the 18th Century but it was Roger Groult (1905-1988) who really established distillery's reputation and gave the company his name. His grandson is now the owner and distiller.

I liked the cider's strong appley character, which I assume comes both from the quality of fruit but also that the cider is bottled fermented and spends two years on its lees before being dégorged. I tasted the 2015, which was dégorged in 2017. Unfortunately it is not available in the UK. As it retails for 12€ in France it may be the price that puts UK imports off.

The three Calvados on show – 3 ans d'âge, Vénerable and the Sherry cask finish – were all impressive particularly for the gentleness of the spirit – not at all aggressive.

Amongst other wines tasted – Jean Durup's crisp 2017 Petit Chablis (10.80€) and the more concentrated 2017 Chablis (13.30€) were good value and that Domaine de l'Hortus (Pic Saint-Loup) remains a star of the Languedoc.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Vignobles et Signatures venture to London (part one)

IMG_8344 (1)

For the first time since the Vignobles et Signatures group of French producers were founded in 1984, representatives from 15 members of their 17 members came to London to show off their wines. In the case of Roger Groult it was their cider and Calvados and for Famille Lesgourgues an Armagnac.

I don't know whether V&S decided that October 2018 was their last easy chance to display their wares before the utter lunacy of Brexit kicks in at the end of March 2019 leading to who knows what sorts of complications – visas, travel delays etc. – to make the short journey across the Channel/La Manche. Two of the club's members were absent – Domaine Rolet (Jura) and Vignobles Joseph Janoueix (Saint-Emilion, Pomerol). I can only assume that they decided that it made no sense to visit a small island off the coast of mainland Europe in the middle of a full blown nervous breakdown and wilfully committing economic and political suicide. Who, furthermore, from 29th March 2019 will not be able to afford to buy their wines. All in all a rather understandable and hard-headed decision.

Whatever it was a very good tasting with the 15 who ventured into the lunatic asylum as each producer was sensibly limited to showing four wines/cider or spirit.. This meant I was able to taste the majority of the wines although I didn't have time to taste everyone.

All the wines shown were of a high standard – I didn't taste one poor wine.

Vignobles & Signatures have three Loire domaines – Château de Tracy (Pouilly-Fumé), Guilbaud Frères (Muscadet-Sèvre-et-Maine) and Couly-Dutheil (Chinon).

Château de Tracy

I started with Château de Tracy (Pouilly-Fumé). It was good to meet Juliette d'Estutt d'Assay, who took over a couple of years ago from her brother Comte Henry d'Assay, who ran the estate for many years but in 2016 founded his own négociant business – Comte Henry d'Assay  – which concentrates on Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire and the Côtes de Gascogne.

Juliette showed three wines – the 2017 domaine, 2015 Haute Densité (a small plot planted with 17,000 vines per hectare) and 101 Rangs also a 2015 from a plot on flint near the château. Of the three I found Haute Densité, which is matured in a 30 hl  foudre, the most impressive with its concentration, length and clear potential to age.

Pascal Guilbaud 

I first met Pascal Guilbaud (Guilbaud Frères) in February 1989 during my first professional visit to the Pays Nantais and my first trip for a Decanter article. Those were the days when the sales of Muscadet in the UK were buoyant and there was an annual article in Decanter. Pascal wasn't in London instead it was good to meet his daughter Romane and her partner Maxime Fernandez. Romane started working at the family firm in October 2017.

From their four wines I picked out the characterful 2017 Soleil Nantais and the complex 2009 Clos du Pont, which is made in a long ageing (more than two years) Muscadet Cru Communal style. Guilbaud Frères first made this cuvée in 1983. Romane told me that although they are in the commune of Gorges, Pascal isn't part of the Gorges Cru Communal as it was they who started off the movement with this cuvée. As an outsider staying outside the Crus Communaux movement, which is raising Muscadet's profile seems a pity, especially if you were a precursor.

Approach to the Couly Dutheil cellars
in the centre of Chinon 

Due to finishing the fine 2018 harvest Arnaud Couly stayed behind in Chinon. They showed two whites from 2017 – Blanc de Franc (Vin de France) from 100% Cabernet Franc and Les Chanteaux (Chinon Blanc) from 100% Chenin Blanc. It is rare for Cabernet Franc to be vinified as a still white, although this is a frequent practice for Loire sparkling wines. It works well with the 2017 Blanc de Franc having good concentration and attractive texture. Of the two reds the Clos de l'Echo naturally stood out with its ripe concentration of black fruits. Although it can be drunk now this really needs more time in bottle to reveal its full potential.

My post next week will cover the producers from outside the Loire.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Anjou-Saumur bans total weed killer vineyard use

Indiscriminate use of weedkiller in Touraine

Ban on total weed killer in Anjou-Saumur vineyards:
report from Vitisphere (27th September 2018)

Fin du désherbage total en Anjou-Saumur

'Sur les quelque 20 000 ha que compte le vignoble angevin, il faudra désormais enherber ou travailler l’inter-rang.

L’attente fut longue, même un peu incompréhensible tant la mesure semblait de bon sens dans l’ambiance environnementale du moment. Il a fallu quelque 18 mois pour que le Comité national de l’Inao valide, le 6 septembre dernier, les nouveaux cahiers des charges des 27 appellations d’Anjou-Saumur, qui introduisent l’interdiction du désherbage chimique total.

Désormais, seul le cavaillon pourra être désherbé chimiquement. Sur l’inter-rang, le vigneron pourra enherber, travailler le sol, ou désherber via des produits de bio-contrôle. C’est ce dernier point qui a fait débat avec l’Institut provoquant un délai avant le vote par le Comité national, car la mesure a dû être examinée par la Commission technique.'

Lire la suite – read the rest here.
It has now been agreed by the French wine authorities (INAO) that the use of weedkiller in the vineyards of Anjou-Saumur will be severely restricted. Their use is banned between rows of vines and can only be used under the vines. The alternatives are grassing over, working soil – harrowing etc. or the use of organic weed suppressors. There now follows two months of consultations when opposition can be voiced. The ban is expected to come into force at the beginning of 2019.

The use of weedkillers on the headlands/ extremities of a vineyard was already banned from 2008.

This is a very welcome development. I hope we will see a similar measure being introduced in Touraine, where in the generic Touraine Appellation total blitzing of vineyards is still unfortunately all too widespread. 


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

2018 Loire – brief report from Anjou + making a Grand Cru credible

Chenin - 18 
Chenin Blanc destined for a single cuvée of moelleux 
at Domaine de Juchepie


Picker's hat 
Picker's hat held in place by a local stone

We spent last Wednesday and Thursday in Anjou on a quick visit to see how the harvest has been going here. Overall the message is much the same as in other parts of the Loire. Several producers commented that they had never seen grapes like these before – giving both quality and quantity.

Of the producers we saw many started in early September – Damien Laureau (4th September and finishing by 10th September), sisters Anne and Marie Guégniard, Domaine de la Bergerie (6th September) and Vincent, Catherine and Emmanuel Ogereau also on 6th.

I tasted juice/fermenting wine at all three domaines and I found them all clean and precise often with potential complexity depending on the particular parcel and age of vine.

Visiting Claude and Réné Papin at late Wednesday afternoon, Claude was critical of producers who he thought had picked to early and suggested that many 2018 wines would be simple, fruit driven without complexity because the grapes had been picked before they were physiologically ripe. The counter argument to this is that picking started in early September to avoid alcohol degrees shooting up to ridiculous heights due to the very warm conditions. Some of Damien Laureau's cuvées are at 14.5% despite starting and finishing early.

It will be exciting to taste these wines when they are finished. Perhaps we will be able to see who got it right....... may be!

Once again the one sour note in 2018 is mildew with some very badly affected. We dropped in to see Eddy et Mylène Oosterlinck-Bracke(Domaine de Juchepie). Sadly they have been badly hit by mildew this year which has affected their morale as they have lost around two thirds of their crop. This means that instead of making a thrilling range of different sweet wines they will probably just make one. From the limited first pressing, however, it is already at 22% potential alcohol.

Cab Franc - PA 
Cabernet Franc for Petra Alba, Anjou-Villages Brissac,
Domaine de Bablut


Quarts de Chaume – the Loire's only Grand Cru – must be credible

Très Cru 

Approved in November 2011 the appellation Quarts de Chaume (some 43 hectares) remains the only Grand Cru in the Loire and seems likely to remain the valley's solitary Grand Cru for some time to come. Its rules are strict and precise with clear indications of how these rules should be monitored. This is as it should be as Quarts de Chaume can be one of the world's great sweet wines.


Mature bunch 
Very promising bunch – clearly showing
Chenin's typical variable ripening pattern


Excess bunches
At least 12 bunches on this vine
Cahier des Charges
1.7 kilos

Maximum yield per vine fixed at 1.7 kilos or 
2.5 kilos for any vignes larges 
(low density plantatings)

Production rules 

Bénéfice GC 

12 or 13 bunches on this vine perhaps more
– weighing just 1.7 kilos in total?

On Thursday morning I spent about an hour walking around the eastern part of the Quarts de Chaume appellation – the part to the east of the hamlet of Chaume. The previous afternoon I had spent a little time in the western part – unfortunately during one of the rare times during this harvest when it was raining. Here Baumard's vines had been picked – probably recently, so I cannot comment on their condition except that in his parcel on the plateau the grapes are often amongst the most advanced in terms of ripeness and incidence of botrytis. Whether the fact that these are vignes larges (low density vines) is a factor is an interesting question.

The fruit that I saw on Thursday morning were in variable states of ripeness – a characteristic of Chenin Blanc. On the whole the vines had a limited crop with the notable exception of a parcel of vines immediately east of the Château Echarderie – see photos above. It may be that the owner of this parcel is not intending this year to make Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru from this parcel. If so, this would be the correct decision, as unless these bunches are remarkably light, they appear likely to weigh considerably more than the maximum 1.7 kilos per vine allowed in the legislation of 22nd November 2011.

It would, however, be a little strange if the owner of this parcel is not intending to make 2018 Quarts de Chaume from these vines as the price point for Quarts de Chaume is naturally higher than any other labelling options. In which case, the 'control sur terrain' should have ruled this parcel ineligible for the appellation Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru until the crop had been reduced in line with the regulations. Given that this is a small prestigious appellation it should be easy to carry out the necessary checks and, if some parcels have an excessive crop, the rules (22.11.2011) make it clear that they should not benefit from Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru appellation. The particular over-loaded parcel was right by one of the main unmetalled tracks through the appellation and certainly not tucked away in a hard to find spot.

Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru is proudly promoted by the Loire as an exceptional wine. Claude Papin, president of the Quarts de Chaume producers, is rightly concerned that all bottles of Quarts to Chaume are up to standard. Wine buyers have the right to be assured that all growers in the Quarts de Chaume respect the rules and that the premium these wines can rightly command is justified.

I made some similar points on Jim's Loire around this time last year on vines that had a noticeably low weight of crop.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The First Chenin Blanc Congress in Angers: 1st - 3rd July 2019

1-3 July 19

Le mot de la Présidente

Nous avons le plaisir de vous annoncer que le Val de Loire accueille le 1st Chenin blanc International Congress à Angers, les 1,2 et 3 juillet 2019.

Cette première édition est co-organisée par l’Académie du Chenin et Destination Angers en partenariat avec Interloire, la Fédération Viticole d’Anjou Saumur, la Fédération des Associations Viticoles d’Indre et Loire et de la Sarthe, l’Université de Stellenbosh et la South African Chenin Blanc Association.

Ce congrès destiné aux professionnels du monde viticole, s’inscrit dans la continuité des colloques de 1996 sur les Terroirs viticoles ( INRA Angers), de 2003 sur les Paysages de vignes et de vins ( Union des Œnologues de France/INRA Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud), des trois éditions de 2002, 2003, 2004 des Rendez-vous du chenin ( Union des œnologues de France) et de la journée d’étude : Chenin de 2015 ( Musée de la Vigne et du vin, St Lambert du Lattay).

De dimension internationale, il est un lieu de rencontres et de débats sur l’avenir du Chenin blanc face aux défis de la viticulture mondiale, défis environnementaux, climatiques, économiques, sociétaux et culturels du XXI° siècle.

Le comité scientifique prépare un programme exceptionnel, conforme à notre engagement d’excellence face à l’innovation, l’expertise et la créativité du monde viticole.
Ce congrès international met en avant le cépage Chenin blanc, sa versatilité, sa singularité et ses terroirs.

Evelyne de Pontbriand
Présidente du Chenin Blanc International Congress
Présidente de l’Académie du Chenin


It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Loire Valley will host the 1st International Chenin Blanc Congress in Angers, on July 1, 2 and 3, 2019.
This first edition is co-organised by the Académie du Chenin and Destination Angers in partnership with Interloire, the Fédération Viticole d’Anjou Saumur, the Fédération des Associations Viticoles d’Indre et Loire et de la Sarthe, the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa and the South African Chenin Blanc Association.
This congress aimed for the Wine industry is in keeping with the different symposiums  on Chenin blanc, Terroirs and Landscapes organized from 1996 to 2004 (Royal Abbey of Fontevraud) as well as the 2015 Chenin  Study Day (Museum of Vine and Wine, St Lambert du Lattay).
With an international scope, this congress is a place to meet and debate about the future of Chenin Blanc faced with the challenges of global viticulture, i.e. the environmental, climatic, economic, societal and cultural challenges of the 21st Century.
The Scientific Committee is preparing an exceptional program, in keeping with our commitment to excellence with respect to innovation, expertise and creativity of the wine trade.
This international congress showcases the Chenin Blanc grape varietal, its versatility, its uniqueness and its terroirs.

Evelyne de Pontbriand
Chenin Blanc International Congress President
Académie du Chenin Presiden

Nick Faith, 2018 Loire, Paris-Tours highlights Vouvray

Au revoir Nick

2005 – Nick Faith receiving the 2004 André Simon Drinks Book Award 

The eminent journalist and writer, Nick Faith, died on Wednesday 26th September at the age of 85. He was born in London on 6th July 1933.

I was privileged to get to know Nick when he joined the Circle of Wine Writers around 1996. He was a great support for me when editing Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers. For a number of years he checked the newsletter for libel.

Nick was a leading authority on Cognac as well as writing detailed and impressive accounts of the Cruse scandal in Bordeaux in The Winemasters (1978), which won him an André Simon Drinks Book Award, and The Bronfmans: The Rise and Fall of the House of Seagram on the once powerful Canadian drinks family.  Railways were another of his passions and interests.

Nick will be sadly missed.

Farewell Nick Faith by Jancis Robinson MW


2018 Saumur & Saumur-Champigny

Cab F@Bonnellière

Cab F @Champigny 

CF + mildew 

Last Thursday we made a quick dash through Saumur-Champigny to see how the 2018 vintage is progressing before heading off for an excellent lunch at Vincent le Cuisinier de Campagne , Ingrandes de Touraine.

We had time to drop in on three producers – Anton Sanzay, Domaine de la Bonnelière (Bonneau Frères)  and Rocheville (Agnès et Philippe Porché). There was a interesting variation in picking times. Both Antoine Sanzay and Rocheville had finished – Antoine on Tuesday evening while Rocheville were right at the very end of picking. In contrast the Bonneau brothers were barely halfway through their harvest. Cédric Bonneau explained that they had started the reds a week ago and that the tannins in the skins and pips remained strong, so they were taking their time with still a week's picking ahead. They still had all the vineyards on the coteaux (clay-limestone) to harvest.

All three were understandably very happy with how clean the fruit is this year with virtually no sign of rot. Serious losses from mildew has been a problem in parts of the Loire. None of these three domaines had suffered from serious losses. As elsewhere a limited amount of mildew damage was quite useful as 2018 was potentially a very big crop losing some grapes through mildew meant that a green harvest wasn't necessary.

Driving through the Saumur-Champigny vineyards it was apparent that there was still a substantial amount of grapes to be picked.


Paris-Tours Classic has Vouvray make-over

The Paris-Tours course from La Nouvelle République

Details of the white roads and steep climbs around the Vouvray Appellation

Doubtless inspired by the Vouvray articles on our blog (Les 5 du Vin), the organisers of the Paris-Tours classic bike race changed this year's edition run last Sunday (7th October) from the traditional route. Instead of featuring some steep hills and narrow roads to the south of Tours, farm tracks and short steep hills in the Vouvray were featured in the last part of the race. The 2018 edition was won by Søren Kragh Andersen, who broke away from his two breakaway companions with 10 kilometres remaining to win on his own.

The race is often known as a sprinters' classic. Over recent years wins have been shared between sprinters and breakaway specialists. If the change to farm tracks and short steep climbs is continued then it is very unlikely that Paris-Tours will ever come down to a big bunch sprint again as the farm tracks rapidly blew the race apart with numerous punctures caused by sharp stones.

The new route made great TV watching but caused a mixed reaction amongst the riders and their team managers – some loved it while others said that farm tracks have no place in road racing.

Paris-Tours was first run in 1896 making it one of the oldest bike races in the world.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Guess the vintage?

Vintage ?

A glass of Bourgueil from Lamé-Delisle-Boucard – which vintage please?