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

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Hotel Restaurant le Bon Laboureur à Chenonceaux – bizarre Michelin decision

Le Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux

Founded back in 1786 as a coaching inn Le Bon Laboureur has long been indisputably the best hotel and restaurant in Chenonceaux, whose famous château (Chenonceau) draws visitors from all over the world. Henry James stayed there and mentioned the hotel in his A Little Tour of France published in 1884. When we are in Touraine this is our nearest fine restaurant.

Recently we have been taken to lunching there during the week when their 32€ lunch menu is available. What a bargain it is! Nominally three courses, you get fine nibbles with your apéro followed by a mise en bouche and then your first course – choice of two dishes. Next up main course – choice of fish or 72-hour cooked shoulder of lamb. A pre-dessert precedes dessert. The bargain lunch menu concludes with a choice of mignardises. My choice is invariably the cherries steeped in kirsch. With the exception of the vegetarian option, the other menus are considerably more expensive.

We have never had a bad experience at the Bon Laboureur the food  – prepared by owner chef Antoine Jeudi – is excellent , the wine list has plenty of interesting bottles  – in early this January we enjoyed a bottle of François Pinon's 1997 Vouvray Sec – reasonably priced and delicious. Fabrice Dagaut and his team offer impeccable service in the restaurant.

Given this quality it came as a great surprise to learn that Le Bon Laboureur lost its Michelin star early this year. Certainly there was nothing from our visits – around three a year – to suggest that its étoile was threatened. From our experiences Guide Michelin's decision to strip Le Bon Laboureur of its star appears bizarre.

In any case we will continue to eat at Le Bon Laboureur. 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Millésime Bio 2019 – some photos from the fair

Marie et Anne Guegniard, Domaine de la Bergerie,



 António Ribeiro, Casa da Mouraz, Dão

Oscar and his sister Claúdia: Quevedo, Douro Valley



An Englishman in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Béatriz et Neil Joyce, 


Bottles from a very good tasting of the wines from 
Château de Parnay (Saumur and Saumur Champigny) 

Some standout bottles from the tasting 

Antoine Gerbelle – quel media vedette !!

Monday, 28 January 2019

Charles Sydney Loire Benchmark Tasting, London + Loire's @2019Millésime Bio

 2018 Gamay in the Côte Roannaise

Last Thursday (24th January) was the annual Charles Sydney Wines Loire Benchmark tasting in London. Charles Sydney Wines, offering a courtier service, was set up by Charles and Philippa Sydney in 1989. They have now retired and Chris Hardy, previously of Majestic Wines has taken over. Chris has now been joined by Alex Meunier.

Although I did taste the 2018 wines at Domaine Belargus and some at the sparsely attended French Wine Discoveries (15th January) where the ripe and concentrated 2018 Muscadets from Alexandre Déramé stood out, the Sydney tasting was my first chance to taste more than 100 of these wines following their fermentation. 

My overall impression – bearing in mind these white wines (Muscadet and Sauvignon Blanc forming a substantial majority) are still very young and many of them were quite cold – is that they are very clean and precise wines. I suspect that they will tend to take on considerably more weight over the next few months. Chris Hardy emphasised that growers should take their time before bottling this vintage to give it a chance to reveal its potential. Of course if you are short of stock following frost in 2016 and 2017 this may well not be easy. Tasting at Millésime Bio (Montpellier) today it is clear that a number producers, who are very short of stock following the successive frosts of 2016 and 2017, have already started bottling some of their 2019, especially some whites and rosés. Fortunately 2018 is a generous vintage and it may only be necessary to bottle a small amount of stock now. 

Tasting whites today at Millésime Bio they seemed more generous than in London probably due to being mainly tasted at slightly warmer temperature. It also be that the wines when in London were adversely affected by the misery of Brexit.... Amongst the 2018 whites I tasted today I was impressed by Bonnet-Huteau – their Muscadet but also a Gros Plant in very limited quantity – only 1500 bottles.

Vincent Pineau, who has joined his 
Domaine de la Roche with Bonnet-Huteau

For the first time I met and tasted with Michel Delhommeau, Les Vignes Saint Vincent and was impressed by his 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, especially the Clos Amand from old vines. It was good to taste with Denis Jamain (Reuilly) – fine 2018s in all three colours including a richly textured Reuilly Rouge (Pinot Noir).  

There are some lovely ripe, rich Loire reds in 2018 – most, of course are not in bottle yet. I have yet to taste many 2018 Cabernet Francs. One of the few I tasted today was the 2018 Clos de Bienboire, Saumur-Champigny, Château de Villeneuve – ripe concentration of delicious black fruits – very recently bottled. In London I was impressed by the Saumur Champigny from Domaine des Sanzay and and the Chinon from Noblaie. I have now tasted rather more 2018 Gamay than Francs including some wonderfully seductive  Gamays from Touraine – Domaines Sauvété and Domaine L'Aumonier – and the Côte Roannaise – Domaines Sérol and des Pothiers. 

Back in London I tasted a few sweet wines from 2018 – from this limited evidence there could well be some great sweet wines to enjoy. 

Note to myself – I must drink more sweet Loire Chenins in 2019! 

One half of Hall B2 

Millésime Bio continues to expand:
This year there are some 1100 organic/biodynamic producers exhibiting at the 2019 edition with four large halls now in use to cope with this expansion. It shows the marked increase in the number of domaines, who are now either organic or biodynamic. As all regions and countries are mixed up it is now a considerable feat of organisation to get to see producers in the most efficient way possible. I guess that from one end of Millésime Bio to the other is not far off the distance from Rablay-sur-Layon to Champs-sur-Layon. 

Doubtless one of the shows' sponsors is Fitbit......