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

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Scenes from the Weald

A glimpse of Bodiam Castle

Spending a few days in the Weald down on the Kent and Sussex borders, which makes a refreshing change after the recent heat of Lisbon where the temperature was 40˚C and more last week. This afternoon we went on a short wander through the lanes past Bodiam Castle and then onto Ewhurst Green to Northiam with a swift glance at Great Dixter.

Bodiam Castle

Wealden View

The White Dog and church in Ewhurst Green

Heading from Northiam to Newenden we were stopped by the level crossing waiting for the steam train on the restored Kent & Sussex Railway to depart from Northiam Station heading towards Tenterden.

The engine

Ready for the off

On its way

North American Wine Routes

A travel guide to wines & vines, from Napa to Nova Scotia
Consulting editors: Dan Berger and Tony Aspler, £25

This is a new wine travel guide published in the UK by Anova Books. Dan Berger and Tony Aspler, two very experienced writers on North American wines, were the consulting editors. There were ten other writers who contributed including Patrick Fegan and Linda Murphy.

The book covers the vineyards of Canada and the United States giving 76 tours from Vancouver Island to Blue Ridge & Shenandoah. The authors concentrate on recommending wineries to visit.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Casal Garcia Rosé: screwcapped!

Screwcapped Casal Garcia

Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world and has long been quite understandably resistant to the idea of using screwcaps to close wine bottles. Over the past decade Portuguese cork producers have deployed a range of arguments to attempt to stem the increasing popularity of alternative wine closures. These have included warnings of environmental disaster and the loss of fauna and flora if we do not continue to use their sometimes defective product to stopper our wine bottles.

However, it is clear that some of Portugal's largest wine companies believe that screwcaps are suitable at least for their rosés. About a year of so ago I came across half bottles of Mateus Rosé in a Lisbon supermarket closed with screwcaps. Mateus is made by Sogrape, Portugal's largest wine producer. This week we tried a bottle of Casal Garcia Vinho Verde Rosé, which is made by Quinta da Aveleda, another very large Portuguese company, Casal Garcia being one of their biggest brands of Vinho Verde. Incidentally, well chilled, the rosé was pleasantly easy drinking with raspberry and cherry flavours.

How far the use of screwcaps on Portuguese wine in their home market will spread remains to be seen. Quinta do Cotto have used screwcaps on their Douro red.

Doubtless the cork producers will cite this impertinent break with the divine order of cork as a reason that Portugal didn't win the 2010 World Cup!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Pancho Campo MW: Interpol casts doubt on Campo's claims

In a message to his supporters sent on 21st July 2010, Pancho Campo asserted:

'I have been informed today that Interpol accepted my request to take my name out of their list. They have found that a mistake was made and an injustice was committed against me.

'Finally my name is out of their website and I am no longer a "wanted" person.'

A similar message was sent to The Indian Wine Academy:

'It gives me great pleasure to inform you that Interpol has accepted our request to take Pancho from their Red Notice list. We have managed to prove that Pancho´s case was not handled well, the accusations were wrong and he should have never been listed in Interpol’s website. He is now a free and innocent man,’ (

However, a response from Interpol's press office to my enquiry indicates that this is not how the system of Red Notices work:
'Dear  Mr Budd,

Thank you for your email.

In response to your enquiry, it is not appropriate for INTERPOL to comment on individual cases.

As there is no Red Notice published on the INTERPOL website for this person, this means that either the Notice is restricted to law enforcement access only, or the country which requested the issue of a Red Notice has cancelled this request.

A Red Notice is issued by the INTERPOL General Secretariat in Lyon, France at the request of a member country on the basis of a valid national arrest warrant. We would therefore advise you to contact the authorities of the country which issued the original warrant as they will be able to update you on its status.'

It would appear then that Pancho Campo's name could only have been removed at the request of the authority – Dubai/United Arab Emirates – that issued the request for a Red Notice in the first place. This suggests that Campo's claim that Interpol have admitted that a mistake was made in issuing the Red Notice may well be unlikely as they would have been responding to 'a request of a member country on the basis of a valid national arrest warrant'.  

Unfortunately it remains unclear what was the actual process of removing Pancho Campo's name from Interpol's website. Did this process perhaps involve an agreement with Jackie Wartanian, his former business partner who had filed the original complaint back in 2002?  

See other recent posts on Pancho Campo here and here.

Pancho Campo MW: questions for his lawyer

Following the news (21st July 2010) that Pancho Campo's name had been removed from list of fugitives on the Interpol website I sought clarification from Campo about the current status of his conviction in Dubai in June 2003. 

I received the following reply (22nd July 2010): 

'Pancho, his wife and children left yesterday evening for their summer holidays overseas.

Also, The Wine Academy closes for the summer vacation until September the 1st.

I shall forward your email to the lawyer of the Butler family who will be handling all matters related to the case.


Paulina Campo-Bacque
Executive Director'

I sent (22nd July) some questions to be forwarded to the lawyer:

I would be very grateful if you would pass on the following three questions to the Butler family lawyer who is handling these matters.

A) Why did Interpol remove Pancho Campo MW's name from the Interpol wanted list? What evidence was provided that persuaded the authorities that his name should be removed?

B) What is current status of Campo's conviction in Dubai on 1st June 2003 for breach of trust/fraud and sentence to a year in prison. Has this conviction been quashed or set aside or does it still stand?

C) Are there any further legal cases involving Pancho Campo MW in the United Arab Emirates?

Alternatively could you let me have a name and contact details, including an email address, for the Butler family lawyer please?

To date I have received no response.


Detained in Dubai

The Pancho Campo case features on this site, which claims that the issuing of a red notice for Pancho Campo was as a result of a 'UAE Interpol Blunder'. 

I have asked Interpol to comment.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sancerre Rouge: results from tasting in early June

 Pinot Noir@Sancerre 2008

Day one of my two days spent in Sancerre tasting at the Bureau du Centre in early June concentrated on whites from Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy and Sancerre. On the second day it was the turn of reds from Menetou-Salon, Reuilly and Sancerre with those from Sancerre making up the majority. The wines were tasted blind.   

There were 25 red Sancerres – all from the 2008  vintage, except for one 2009. Of the 25, 13 were matured in tank and 12 in wood. It was evident from the tasting that at least for the 2008 vintage producers had two options. Either to make a very light cuvée, concentrating on the fruit and extracting very little tannin or to make a more serious concentrated wine which needs to mature in wood to soften the tannins. Otherwise you may well end up with a wine that has severe tannins, at least in its youth. All of the best noted wines here were matured in wood.

 François Crochet

My top wine
2008 Reserve de Marcigoué, François Crochet
From a  small parcel of vines (0.5ha) with a yield of between 35-40 hl/ha and picked by hand. matured in demi-muids (500 litre) for 12 months. This has excellent concentration of black fruits allied with a freshness that gives balance. 

Well noted (all 2008)
Bernard Fleuriet, Anthocyane (30 hl/ha, hand picked)
Pascal et Nicolas Reverdy, A Nicolas (35hl/ha, hand picked

Noted (all 2008 - matured in tank)
Roger et Didier Raimbault (50 hl/ha, machine picked)
Serge Laloue (
43 hl/ha, hand picked)

Yields of 1000 hl/ha!!

From a report on the website of Vignerons Independants du Centre Val de Loire

'Rendements des Vins Sans Indication Géographique (VSIG)

Une réflexion pour stopper les dérives

Un groupe de travail, présidé par Jérôme Despey, réunissait le 22 juillet dernier le Ministère de l'Agriculture, la DGCCRF, la DGDDI, l'INAO, la CFVDP, la CCVF, la CNAOC et les VIF (représentés par Michel Issaly).

L'objectif de cette réunion était de trouver des solutions pour stopper certaines dérives au niveau des rendements des VSIG.

Il a été rappelé dans un premier temps que la production des VSIG n'était pas limitée règlementairement. Cependant il a été constaté, sur la campagne précédente, plusieurs abus flagrants, avec parfois des rendements à plus de 1000 hl/ha (!), ce qui est totalement aberrant au niveau agronomique.

L'ensemble des organisations professionnelles souhaite mettre un terme à ces pratiques qui déstabilisent le marché.'

Unfortunately the report doesn't say where this extraordinary figure of 1000 hl/ha was achieved. Presumably it was with the aid of plenty of chemical fertiliser and irrigation. Although yields of between 100 and 150 can be achieved without too much trouble – commonplace in Champagne where the appellation rules allows high yields, 1000 hl/ha is enormous. This working party has been set up to try to prevent producers of VSIG wines (the old vin de table category) achieve such 'aberrant' yields.  

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

2009 Sancerre Blanc: results of tasting in early June

Pickers in Vincent Grall's Sancerre vineyard late September 2009

This post continues the results from the tasting held at the Bureau du Centre in early June. Unsurprisingly the biggest contingent of wines tasted from the three appellations – Quincy, Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre – were from the latter. A total of 70 Sancerres tasted blind – 63 vinified without any wood, while seven were fermented and aged in wood.

As I have already indicated on posts on Pouilly-Fumé and Quincy, the Sancerres were more variable and less homogeneous than the two other appellations. The summer hail damage seen in the Bué, Chavignol and Sancerre sectors may well have been a factor here for a number of the Sancerres showed a lack of freshness allied with very ripe fruit and high levels of alcohol. This may prove to be a stage they are passing through. In the 2003 vintage a number of Sancerres were initially dismissed as lacking acidity and zip. However after several years in bottle they came into balance, which of course is fine for those who age their Sancerre but less good for the vast majority of the wines that are drunk within a year or eighteen months of the vintage.

My top wines
Michel Thomas et Fils
Michel Thomas has 17 hectares in Sury-en-Vaux. The yield for this cuvée was 60 hl/ha, so no hail damage here. The grapes were picked by machine from vines on argile-calcaire. This wine has attractive weight, balance and a long mineral finish.

Domaine François Crochet, Classique
François Crochet has 10.5 hectares in Bué, so was affected by the hail. The yield for this cuvée was 37 hl/ha. The grapes were hand picked and come from Sancerre's three types of soil – caillottes (80%), 10% argile-calcaire and silex (10%0. The distinguishing mark of François's wines is their precise minerlaity and this is no exception, although in quite a ripe style it has a lovely fresh, mineral quality in the finish.

Domaine Michel Girard et Fils
This is a domaine of 11 hectares in Verdigny, which I understand escaped the hail damage. The average yields here in 2009 were 44 hl/ha and the grapes were picked by machine. Although the wine has 14% alcohol it has attractive citric freshness.

Dionysia, Vin d'Homme
This is from Auguste Natter, the son of Henry and Cecile. Auguste has 3.7 ha in Montigny, the furthest west commune in AC Sancerre. Picked by machine from young vines planted on argile calcaire yielding 37 hl/ha. Although in a leaner style (just over 13% alc), this has attractive, delicate ripe fruit, concentration and length.

Well noted:
Roger and Didier Raimbault, Vieilles Vignes
André Vatan, Les Charmes
Dionysia, Vin d'Olympe
Domaine Chatelain, Sélection
Paul Prieur et Fils
Domaine Fouassier, Les Romains
Claude Riffault, Les Boucards (20% futs)
Claude Riffault, Les Chailloux (100% fûts)
Domaine Thomas, Le Perrier

Roger and Didier Raimbault, Domaine
Domaine des Vrillères
Domaine La Gemière, Cuvée Initiale
Vincent Pinard, Clémenence

Les 5 du Vin: matching Mark Cavendish with a sparkling wine

 A traditional but messy way of opening a bottle of sparkling wine

My posting this week on the Les 5 du Vin blog is about sprinter Mark Cavendish and matching him with a suitable wine, especially following Sunday's explosive charge up the Champs de l'Elysée. Clearly it has to be a sparkling wine and I've chosen an English sparkler that celebrates the man who may have invented sparkling wine – Christopher Merret. 

Monday, 26 July 2010

2009 Pouilly-Fumé: results of tasting in early June

View of the vineyards from Les Berthiers, Pouilly-sur-Loire

My apologies I had meant to get the results of the two day tasting at the offices of the Bureau du Centre at the beginning of June earlier but various things have intervened.

I have often been critical of the overall quality of Pouilly-Fumé. However, on this occasion they showed pretty well and were more homogeneous than those from neighbouring Sancerre, where in a number of instances lacked freshness probably due to high alcohol levels brought about in part by the small yields following the succession of hail storms. The best of the 2009 Pouilly-Fumés had a fine balance of ripe fruit and refreshing acidity.

Château Favray

The top wine: 
I had one clear favourite: Château de Favray from Quentin David. This stood clear of all the rest from the appellation. One of the people who joined me for the tasting was Mathilde David, the daughter of Quentin who was doing a stage at the Bureau du Centre. All the wines were tasted blind so it was a good surprise when the wine's identity was revealed. The 2009 Favray has attractive grassy aromas, ripe yellow plum flavours, good weight and a lovely balance which really makes the wine. 54 hl/ha was the yield for this wine with the grapes being picked by machine. Given the cleanness of the fruit in the 2009 vintage.

Quentin David: 2008 vintage 

Very well noted wines:
Régis Minet: Vent d'Anges  (hand picked)
Tinel Blondelet Cuvée Genetin (machine picked)

Well noted wines:
Caves de Pouilly Le Bergerie  (machine picked 60%, hand picked 40%)
Domaine de Boisfleury, Les Champs Billards (machine picked)
Francis Blanchet, Calcaire  (machine picked)

Also noted
Domaine Fournier _ Les Deux Cailloux (both machine and hand picked)
Domaine Chatelain, Les Chailloux (machine picked)
Domaine Joseph Mellot, Le Chant des Vignes (machine picked)
Domaine Seguin (machine picked)
Tinel Blondelet Arrêt Buffante (machine picked)
Jean-Pierre Bailly  (machine picked)



Sunday, 25 July 2010

Tour de France: list of stage winners

Updated and new extended list of Tour de France stage victories (edited 26.7.10) 

(following today's final stage in this year's Tour)

Includes recent stage wins.

The most Tour de France stage victories: the top 12

34: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
28: Bernard Hinault (Fra)
25: André Leducq (Fra)
22: André Darrigade (Fra) (sprinter)
22: Lance Armstrong (USA)
20: Nicolas Frantz (Lux)
19: Francois Faber,( Lux)
17: Jean Alavoine, (Fra)
16: Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
16: Charles Pelissier, (Fra)
16: René Le Grèves, (Fra)
15: Freddy Maertens, (Bel)
15: Mark Cavendish (UK)

Others– selected names
13: Philippe Thys (Bel)
13: Louis Trousselier (Fr)
12: Gino Bartali (It)
12: Mario Cipollini (It)
12: Miguel Indurain (Esp)
12: Robbie McEwen (Aus)
12: Louis Trousselier (Fr)
12: Erik Zabel (GER)
11: Jean Aerts (Bel)
11: Louison Bobet (Fr)
11: Rafaele Dipaco (It)
10: Maurice Archambaud (Fr)
10: Walter Godefroot (Bel)
10: Gerrie Knetemann (Hol)
10: Antonin Magne (Fr)
10: Henri Pelissier (Fr)
10: Jan Raas (Hol)
10: Joop Zoetemelk (Hol)
9: Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (Uzb)
9: Ottavio Bottecchia (Ita)
9: Fausto Coppi (It)
9: Charly Gaul (Fr)
9: Emile Georget (Fr)
9: Thor Hushovd (Nor)
9: Lucien van Impe (Bel)
9: Roger Lapébie (Fr)
9: Sylvère Maes (Bel)
9: Eloi Meulenberg (Bel)
9: Luis Ocaña (Esp)
9: Georges Speicher (Fr)
9: Tom Steels (Bel)
9: Bernard Thevenet (Fr)
9: Jean-paul van Poppel (Hol)
8: Rudi Altig (Ger)
8: Gustave Garrigou (Fr)
8: Learco Guerra (It)
8: Roger Hassenforder (Fr)
8: Barry Hoban (UK)
8: Ferdinand (Ferdi)Kübler (Hel)
8: Louis Mottiat (Be)
8: Marco Pantani (It)
8: René Vietto (Fr)
7: Federico Bahamontes (Sp)
7: Jean-Pierre Danguillaume (Fr)
7: Nino Defilippis (It)
7: Jean-Baptise Dortignacq (Fr)
7: Laurent Fignon (Fr)
7: Raphaël Géminiani (Fr)
7: Felice Gimondi (It)
7: Félix Goethals (Fr)
7: Cyrille Guimard (fr)
7: Jan Janssen (Hol)
7: Rik van Looy (Bel)
7: Fiorenzo Magni (It)
7: Georges Passerieu (Fr)
7: Lucien Petit-Breton (Fr)
7: Raymond Poulidor (Fr)
7: Edward Sels (Bel)
7: Jan Ullrich (Ger)
7: Richard Virenque (Fr)
6: Marino Basso (It)
6: Romain Bellenger (Fr)
6: Guido Bontempi (It)
6: Tom Boonen (Bel)
6: Alfred de Bruyne (Bel)
6: Fabian Cancellara (Hel)
6: Raphaël Géminiani (Fr)
6: Marcel Kint (Bel)
6: Firmin Lambot (Bel)
6: Octave Lapize (Fr)
6: Greg Lemond (US)
6: Rik van Looy (Bel)
6: Thierry Marie (Fr)
6: Hector Martin (Bel)
6: Jelle Nijdam (Hol)
6: Alessandro Petacchi (It)
6: Guido Reybrouck (Bel)
6: Jean Robic (Fr)
6: Patrick Sercu (Bel)

6: Didi Thurau (Ger)
6: Félicien Vervaecke (Be)
6: Martin Van Geneugden (bel)
5: Phil Anderson (Aus)
5: Hippolyte Aucouturier (Fr)
5: Pierino Baffi (It)
5: Honoré Barthelemy (Fr)
5: Gilbert Bauvin (Fr)
5: Maurice Dewaele (Bel)
5: Paul Duboc (Fr)
5: Jacques Esclassan (Fr)
5: Jean Graczyk (Fr)
5: Gerben Karstens (Hol)
5: Sean Kelly (Irl)
5: Hugo Koblet (Hel)
5: Julio Jiménez (Esp)
5: Eric Leman (Bel)
5: René Pottier (Fr)
5: Roger Riviere (Fr)
5: Jean Rossius (Bel)
5: Herman van Springel (Bel)
5: Jean Stablinski (Fr)
5: Eric Vanderaerden (Be)
5: Maurice De Waele (Be)
4: Erik Breukink (Holl)
4: Gianni Bugno (It)
4: Marcel Buysse (Bel)
4: Robert Cazala (Fr)
4: Eduardo Chozas (Esp)
4: Alberto Contador (Esp)
4: Pedro Delgado (Esp)
4: Jean Forestier (Fr)
4: Óscar Freire (Esp)
4: Frank Hoste (Be)
4: Laurent Jalabert (Fr)
4: Jaan Kirsipuu (Est)
4: Dimitri Konyshev (Rus)
4: Dimitri Konyshev (Rus)
4: Rik Van Linden (Bel)
4: Romain Maes (Bel)
4: Rudy Matthus (Bel)
4: Charly Mottet (Fr)
4: Gastone Nencini (It)
4: Roger Pingeon (Fr)
4: René Privat (Fr)
4: Michael Rasmussen (Den)
4: Gaston Rebry (Bel)
4: André Rosseel (Bel)
4: Rik Van Linden (Bel)
4: Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)
4: Gustaaf van Slembrouck (Bel)
4: Alexander Vinokourov (Rus)
3: Chris Boardman (UK)
3: Santiago Botero (Col)
3: Sylvain Chavanel (Fr)
3: Claudio Chiappucci (It)
3: Odile Defraye (Be)
3: Pierrick Fédrigo (Fr)
3: Maurice Garin (Fr)
3: Luis Herrera (Col)
3: Hennie Kuiper (Hol)
3: Vicente Lopez-Carril (Esp)
3: Henk Lubberding (Hol)
3: David Millar (UK)
3: Robert Millar (UK)
3: Charly Mottet (Fr)
3: Stan Ockers (Bel)
3; Stuart O'Grady (Aus)
3: Miguel Poblet (Esp)
3: Michel Pollentier (Bel)
3: Stephen Roche (Irl)
3: Tony Rominger (Den)
3: Carlos Sastre (Esp)
3: Acácio da Silva (Port)
3: Jan Svorada (Slo/Cz)
3: Léon Scieur (Be)
3: Peter Winnen (Hol)
3: Michael Wright (UK)
2: Phil Anderson (Aus)
2: Moreno Argentin (It)
2: Alfredo Binda (It)
2: Sandy Casar (Fr)
2: Sergei Ivanov (Rus)
2: Luc Leblanc (Fr)
2: Bradley McGee (Aus)
2: Johan Museeuw (Bel)
2: Stuart O'Grady (Aus)
2: Eddy Planckaert (Bel)
2: Willy Planckaert (Bel)
2: Bjarne Riis (Den)
2: Brian Robinson (UK)
2: Steven Rooks (Hol)
2: Fritz Schär (Ch)
2. Andy Schleck (Lux)
2: Frank Schleck (Lux)
2: Piotr Ugrumov (Rus)
2: Thomas Voeckler (Fr)
1: Joaquim Agostinho (Port)
1: Ivan Basso (it)
1: Cadel Evans (Aus)
1: Denis Menchov (Russ)

1: Francesco Moser (It)
1: Sergio Paulinho (Port)
1: Christophe Riblon (Fr)
1: Joaquim Rodríguez (Fr)
1: Max Sciandri (UK/It)
1: Sean Yates (UK)

2010 le Tour de France: Mark Cavendish wins in Paris again

With an amazing turn of speed Mark Cavendish destroyed his opposition on the Champs de l'Elysée this afternoon. As soon as Mark started his sprint he left the rest for dead and won once again by several bike lengths. This brings his stage victories in this edition of Le Tour to five and a remarkable 15 stage victories in total, so 13th in the list of all time Tour stage victories. Now just one behind the great Belgian sprinter, Freddy Maertens. Two more stages and Mark Cavendish will be in 8th position – see next post.

Unfortunately his poor start to the Tour cost him the Green Jersey, which as I predicted was won by Petacchi. Contador, of course, won overall with Andy Schleck as the best young rider and Antony Charteau winning the polka dot Mountains Jersey.

2010 le Tour de France: Contador wins TT battle with Schleck but only just

Alberto Contador duly won his time trial battle with Andy Schleck but it was much closer than expected as Contador perfomed well below his best between Bordeaux and Pauillac. Initially he gained a few seconds on Schleck and then started to lose them. Around about the halfway mark Schleck was just two seconds behind Contador overall. Then Contador gradually started gaining on Schleck as the effort of riding into the wind started to tell. At the end Contador crossed the line 31 seconds better than Schleck on the day, so with an overall lead of 39 seconds, exactly the time that Schleck lost on the stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon when he slipped his chain.

Fabien Cancellara, who started early before the wind got up was the clear winner of the stage by 17 seconds from Tony Martin, who had also been second to Cancellara in the Prologue in Rotterdam three weeks ago. Contador finished 5.43 behind Fabien and Schleck@6.14. Denis Menchov (11th@3.51) did a good time trial moving himself into third place overall above Samuel Sanchez. Lance Armstrong in his final time trial finished well down – 67th and 7.05 minutes behind Cancellara.

Today's short celebratory stage runs from Longjumeau to Paris Champs-Élysées (102.5km). There will be no racing until they reach the Champs-Elysée when the sprinters will be expected to contest the last points for the Green Jersey, the only contest not yet decided. I expect Alessandro Petacchi (213 points) the current holder to win it, although the most likely winner of the stage on current form must be Mark Cavendish. As well as the points for placings at the end of the stage, there are two intermediate points sprints on the Champs-Elysée. If Mark Cavendish (197 points) could take those he might just snatch the jersey on the final day. I do expect him to overtake Thor Hushovd (202 points).

Saturday, 24 July 2010

2010 le Tour de France: the race of truth – Bordeaux-Pauillac

Large format bottle on the Quai Antoine Ferchaud, Pauillac
A time trial in cycling is often called the race of truth – pitting one rider against another without the support of a team. At 52 km, today's trial is quite a long test for the riders. It is widely expected that Alberto Contador will increase his slender eight second lead over Andy Schleck today on the virtually dead flat route from Bordeaux to Pauillac past some of the world's most famous wine châteaux. The only First Growth riders might catch a glimpse of will be Latour.

Part of Latour from Pichon-Lalande

The time trial has already started. Last rider – Contador will be off around 4pm French time. So far Tony Martin, who nearly won the Prologue back in Rotterdam, has set the fastest time and at the first intermediate check Fabian Cancellara was nine seconds slower than Martin. Still a long way to go, however.

PS The second time check has just come up with Cancellara now nine seconds up on Martin.

Barbier's Restaurant Le Lion d'Or

2010 le Tour de France: Mark Cavendish makes it No 14 in Bordeaux

Artisanal bakery in Bordeaux 

 Mark Cavendish duly notched up his fourth stage in this year's Tour de France at Bordeaux yesterday. This brings his total number of stage victories to 14 and puts him 13th in the list of riders who have amassed the most stages. Mark has achieved this in just three seasons – a remarkable achievement.  Given that he won easily yesterday without his brilliant lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, makes it very likely that he will also win on Sunday in Paris on the Champs de l'Eylsée. He retains an outside chance of winning the Green Jersey but realistically that looks to be going to Petacchi, who took the Green off Thor Hushovd yesterday. Petacchi now has 215 points, Hushovd, who finished a poor 14th yesterday, has 202 points with Mark Cavendish just behind on 197 points.    

Friday, 23 July 2010

2010 le Tour de France: it's a draw but surely Contador has won

Fish shop in the market in Bordeaux

Watching Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador race up the last 10 kms of the Col du Tourmalet together was certainly gripping, although it was increasingly apparent that they were so equally matched in the mountains that neither could gain an advantage. Inevitably it ended in a draw with Alberto allowing Andy to take the stage victory – his second in this Tour. However it is clearly an advantage for Alberto before the time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac unless he stops for one too many glasses of cru classé!

Today's flat stage from Salies-de-Béarn to Bordeaux through the pine forests of les Landes will be a nice change after the last four stages in the mountains. Although there will doubtless be a breakaway it is expected that it will end in a bunch sprint in Bordeaux, especially as the Green jersey competition is still so tight. I expect that Petacchi will reclaim the Green from Thor Hushovd. Perhaps another stage win for Mark Cavendish?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

2009 Quincy

Picking machine in Quincy 2008

Here is a slightly expanded version of my post in early June on the Quincy wines tasted at Sancerre:

'Last Thursday afternoon I started my tasting of 2009 whites from Pouilly-Fumé, Quincy and Sancerre with 15 from Quincy. This was the most homogeneous flight with many of them having the typical grassy and citric characteristics of Loire Sauvignon Blanc. Although none showed great complexity, equally there were none that were just too big and fat, lacking freshness as was the case with some of the Sancerre whites.

Of the 15 wines tasted my very clear favourite wine was the concentrated, grassy 2009 from Jean-Michel Sorbe with attractive minerality and acidity – a fine bottle. Other wines well noted were Villalin from Domaine Villalin – I preferred this cuvée to their Tradition, Philippe Portier and Vincent Siret-Courtaud. I also noted Tradition from Domaine Trotereau and Haute Victoire from Domaine Bourgeois.

2010 le Tour de France: showdown in the Pyrénées – Schleck's last chance

Today's last stage in the Pyrénées is billed as the final crunch – the day that Alberto and Andy have to stop their cat and mouse tactics and really try and put as much time into each other as possible. In reality it is Andy Schleck who has to attack if he is to win the 2010 Tour. If Alberto still has just eight seconds of a lead when they reach the top of the Tourmalet this afternoon then, barring a crash or major problems in Saturday's time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac, he will have won the Tour.

Can Andy Schleck gain enough time on this stage to provide enough of a cushion against the time he is likely to lose in the time trial? I doubt it. The two have seemed to be very evenly matched in the mountains and I can't see either gaining a big chunk of time today.

This 17th stage runs from Pau to the top of the Tourmalet – 174 kms with four climbs, which starts with the short Côte du Renoir (4th category), followed by the steep and difficult Col de Marie-Blanque (1st category with 9.3 kms at an average of 7.6%), then the Col du Soulor (1st category with 11.9 kms at 7.8%) and finally the Tourmalet (hors categorie with 18.6 kms at 7.5%).

Although it is a long way from the finish I fancy that there could be an initial selection up the Marie-Blanque and then up the Soulor, so that by the bottom of the Tourmalet there with only be a small group of top riders still together. There seems to be some dispute over which is the harder side of the Tourmalet. Schleck going for this western ascension, while Sean Kelly* on Eurosport on Tuesday going for the eastern side up through La Mongie, the ski resort. I've ridden up the Tourmalet from both sides, admittedly a long time ago and I wasn't racing, and I found the eastern side tougher.

Today could be a really exciting stage or it could be a damp squib – last year the Ventoux didn't fully live up to its billing as the decisive moment. Hopefully Tourmalet will be different as last year it was already clear that Contador had won. Let's hope so.

* Sean is now saying the opposite that the western side is the tougher.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Pancho Campo MW: removed from Interpol's wanted list

Last September I broke the news, along with Adam Lechmere, on that Pancho Campo MW was wanted by Interpol. I subsequently made several posts about this story on Jim's Loire. I have been informed and have verified this evening that Pancho Campo's name has been removed from Interpol's wanted list.

At this time it is not clear whether Campo's conviction in Dubai in June 2003 and one year prison sentence and subsequent deportation has been quashed or set aside. I am seeking clarification on this and will update this post once this has been clarified.

22nd July 2010
I understand from Paulina Campo-Bacque, the executive director of The Wine Academy of Spain that the lawyer of the Butler family (Campo's in-laws) who will be handling all matters related to the case. I have asked Campo-Bacque to forward some questions to this family lawyer and am awaiting a response.

28th July 2010
I'm still awaiting a response.

Tours: annual garlic and basil fair – 26th July

Lundi 26 juillet 2010

Tours (37000)

Comme chaque 26 juilet, la ville de Tours accueillera la Foire à l'ail et au Basilic. Pour cet effet, la ville sera envahi de vert (basilic) et de blanc (ail). Vente de ces 2 condiments durant toute la journée.

En savoir plus
Ville de Tours (Service communication)
02 47 21 65 47

2010 le Tour de France: Lance's last hurrah

Lance Armstrong featured throughout yesterday's classic stage through the Pyrénées. He was out front in the breakaway over all four climbs – Col de Peyresourde, d'Aspin, Tourmalet and the Aubisque. Had he won the bunch sprint into Pau, it would have been a fine way to end his career. But as Lance was well aware his chances of winning a bunch sprint were slim and so it proved. His best hope for a stage victory would have been if he had been able to break away on the last climb of the day and gain sufficient time to see him stay ahead on the remaining 60 km down from the top of the Aubisque into Pau. At nearly 39 Lance no longer has that sort of strength, even though yesterday's ride was impressive. With four stages left it is very hard to see Armstrong getting any further chances of winning one last stage.

After fireworks on the Peyresourde and Aspin that split the field into pieces it all quietened down as the peloton let the new and less dangerous breakaway escape. Really the stage needs to be ridden in the other direction for a real chance of the overall lead being shaken up as the long ride into Pau can easily nullify short time gains made on the final climb. In the other direction the descent from the Peyresourde is straight into Bagnères-de-Luchon, so very little chance of making up time lost.

Impressive ride by Thor Hushovd to stay in the main bunch through the mountains and to pick up enough points in Pau to take the Green Jersey back by four points. However, if he is to hold off Petacchi I think Thor will need to pick up some more intermediate points. Unfortunately Petacchi is now under investigation in Italy for possible doping.

Today is a rest day before the final showdown in the mountains. Let's hope the stage lives up to its billing.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

2010 le Tour de France: Contador takes yellow but should he have waited?

Alberto Contador grabbed the Yellow Jersey from Andy Schleck by just eight seconds but in controversial circumstances. About three kilometres from the top of the Port de Bàles Andy put in a successful attack quickly opening up a small gap. Vino was the first to take chase and was just about up on Schleck's shoulder when Andy shipped his chain – did he hit a stone causing the bike to rear up or did he just try to shift from the small chain-ring to the big too quickly? Anyway he had to stop to sort out his chain. By this time Alberto had reacted and flew past Schleck along with Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez.

Should Contador have waited for Schleck to sort out his chain problem – some think that an unwritten fair play rule required Alberto to wait or not attack until the Yellow Jersey had sorted his chain out. Others don't agree and say that it is all part of normal racing: it wasn't Alberto's fault that Andy messed up his gear change. Alberto has claimed that he didn't realise at the time what had happened to Andy.  This doesn't seem entirely convincing as he probably realised that Schleck had a problem as he passed him even if he didn't know exactly what this problem was.

Anyway in the furious ride to the top of the Col followed by a very rapid descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon Contador gained 39 seconds on Schleck.

Today's stage, which has already started, is a long tough one from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Pau going over the Col de Peyresourde, Col d'Aspin, Tourmalet and then finally the Aubisque.

Grande Tablée du Saumur-Champigny: 4th and 5th August

Grande Tablée 2005

4 et 5 août 2010
Saumur, Place de la République, 19h30, la table est dressée au coeur de la ville pour 10 000 convives !

Ambiance au programme : rock, chansons françaises et populaires, flamenco... Repas autour des produits du terroir, dégustation de Saumur-Champigny bien-sûr, le tout orchestré par les producteurs de l'appellation.

Alors si vous voulez participer à La Grande Tablée version 2010, réservez vos places dès maintenant !

Modalités d'accès :
Réservation auprès de l'Office du Tourisme de Saumur : entrée 10 € (verre de dégustation seul 4 €).
Attention, le repas affiche complet 10 jours avant la manifestation.

Lieu : Saumur
Renseignements :
Office du Tourisme de Saumur
Tél : 02 41 40 20 60

Foire aux Vins de Vouvray: 11th-15th August 2010

Entrance to Caves de la Bonne Dame, Vouvray

11 au 15 août 2010
Venez découvrir les vins de Vouvray présentés par les vignerons au coeur des Caves de la Bonne Dame.

Accompagnez ces riches dégustations par les spécialités gatronomiques locales !

Modalités d'accès : Accès libre - verres en vente sur place : 3€
Appellation(s) d'Origine Contrôlée à découvrir : Vouvray

Lieu : Vouvray - Caves de la Bonne Dame
Renseignements : Syndicat des vins de l'AOC Vouvray
Tél : 02 47 52 71 07

Monday, 19 July 2010

2010 le Tour de France: a draw in the first day in the Pyrénées

The first day in the Pyrénées turned out to be a draw between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck. Alberto did try a couple of attacks but couldn't drop Andy, so they played cat and mouse allowing Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez to get away. It looked like these two were going to gain a bit of time on the two leaders until Alberto and Andy started working together to limit the loss to just 14 seconds.
This leaves the top 10 in the overall classification like this:

1  SCHLECK Andy (TEAM SAXO BANK)                  68h 02' 30"
2  CONTADOR Alberto (ASTANA)                                  + 00' 31"
3  SANCHEZ Samuel (EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI)          + 02' 31"
4  MENCHOV Denis (RABOBANK)                                + 02' 44"
5  VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen (OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO)   + 03' 31"
6  GESINK Robert (RABOBANK)                                     + 04' 27"
7  LEIPHEIMER Levi (TEAM RADIOSHACK)                 + 04' 51"
8  RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin (KATUSHA TEAM)     + 04' 58"
9  SANCHEZ Luis-Leon (CAISSE D’EPARGNE)               + 05' 56"
10 BASSO Ivan (LIQUIGAS-DOIMO)                            + 06' 52"

Today's stage of 1987.5 kms from Pamiers to Bagnères-de-Luchon is another tough one with temperatures in the early 30s forecast. The main action should be on the last climb, Port de Balès – an hors catégorie. This is followed by a steep descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon. Should Alberto gain a little time on Andy on the climb it might well be difficult for Andy to make it up on the descent as he is not a very good descender. Hopefully it won't be cat and mouse time again today. The advantage remains with Contador as Schleck needs to gain more time before the time trial. Andy also has to be careful about Denis Menchov, who is also a good time triallist.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

An evening with Alain Brumont's wines and his winemaker

Fabrice Dubosc, winemaker for Alain Brumont
My report on this evening is now complete. See here.

2010 le Tour de France: Vino wins in Revel, Cav second, Petacchi in Green

It was so nearly stage win number four in this year's Tour for Mark Cavendish. Unfortunately for him it was spoilt by Alexandre Vinokourov's successful attack at the top of the short steep hill at Revel some five kilometres from the finish. Vino held on during the descent and the the flat section leading to the finish with the sprinters' teams unable to get organised in time to get him back. 

I did predict a breakaway win yesterday but I had expected a long break to be successful, so Vino's win wasn't what I had in mind. However, the sprinters' teams thought otherwise and chased down the day's long break. 

Vino's victory made up for missing out the day before at Mende when Alberto Contador, his team-mate and Joaquin Rodriguez swept past him near the top of the Mende climb. Alberto has been criticised for attacking when his team-mate was in a position to win the stage. However, it was Rodriguez who made the initial attack. Also Astana's main goal is to win the Tour and Contador's 10 second gain was psychologically important. 

Mark Cavendish easily won the sprint for second place showing that even without his great lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, he has the potential to win further stages. The finishes in Bordeaux and Paris should be down to a bunch sprint. Yesterday Alessandro Petacchi was third with Thor Hushovd only eighth, so Thor lost his Green Jersey to Alessandro with Mark Cavendish some 25 points behind. The competition for Green is hotting up with Mark still having an outside chance of winning.

Today sees the first of four tough stages in the Pyrénées to celebrate the 100 years of including these mountains in the race. Versus has a good four part video of the 100 years of the Tour in the Pyrénées here.   

The route for today runs from Revel to Ax 3 Domaines climbing the hors category Port de Pailhères (2001 metres) before flying down into the valley for the final shorter climb up to Ax 3 Domaines (1360 metres). Will today prove to be an opportunity for Alberto to take time out of Andy? We will see but at the moment it is Andy who needs to take time out of Alberto if he is to win in Paris. Potentially a crunch stage today!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

2010 le Tour de France: Alberto Contador gains 10 seconds@Mende

Alberto Contador gained an important 10 seconds on Andy Schleck yesterday reduceng his lead to 31 seconds when he broke away on the Montée Laurent Jalabert (a famous French cyclist now retired when won the first Tour stage run up this short, steep hill to the airport of Mende). This is the first attack Contador has made during this year's Tour and on this occasion Schleck couldn't stay with him. Whether it will be the same in Pyrénées we will know over the next few days – starting on tomorrow. The forecast for Sunday and Monday shows temperatures around 30˚C.

Ten seconds isn't all that much and Schleck did well to limit his losses but it gives Contador the advantage for the moment. and yesterday he looked back to his best. Alberto is a way better time triallist than Andy. Alberto won the Annecy TT in last year's Tour and took 1.45  min out of Andy in 40K. This year's time trial, the penultimate stage,  from Bordeaux to Pauillac is 52K and is essentially dead flat for these top riders. It should suit the powerful Contador more than it does Schleck, unless his time trialling has improved greatly. This looks unlikely as he rode a poor Prologue in Rotterdam.  

Going into next Saturday's TT I reckon Schleck needs to have at least at least two minutes advantage on Contador. Anything less and Alberto is likely to take the Yellow Jersey and win the race. 

Tyler Farrar, one of Mark Cavendish's sprint rival, dropped out of the race yesterday suffering from a wrist injury that happened in a crash on Stage 2 in the Ardennes.

From the forecast it looks like today's stage may be a bit cooler with temperatures around the mid to upper 20s. The 196K stage from Rodez to Revel is quite lumpy, although less than yesterday. It four 4th Category climbs and two 3rd Category. The second of the 3rds comes very close to the end – 1.9K at 6%, so it's short and pretty steep. It might be a sprinters' stage as it is the last chance before Bordeaux, next Friday. The climb right at the end makes it difficult, however, and I'm not sure the sprinters' teams will want to ride hard all day with four very tough stages in the Pyrénées looming. My guess is that a breakaway will be successful today.

Friday, 16 July 2010

First Concours International for Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux: 25th-26th June

  Sauvignon Blanc@Château de Tracy vintage 2008

25 et 26 juin 2010 Concours Mondial Sauvignon
This first Concours was run under the aegis of the Concours Mondial, which is based in Brussels. Several hundred Sauvignon Blancs from all over the world were judged.  

Here are a list of selected medal winners from the Loire. Except for the wooded Sauvignon examples I have chosen only those that got a gold medal. Also in each category I have listed the trophy winner whether they came from the Loire or not.  

Sauvignon non-boisé (no wood) less than 12 Euros 

Trophée Spécial
Michel Laurent 2009 (France) Sancerre Blanc

Médailles d'Or 
Château de Vallagon Touraine Sauvignon 2008 (France) Touraine Blanc
Cuvée Fleur de Lys 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
Domaine de Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (France) Touraine
Domaine de la Bergeonnière Sauvignon 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
Domaine de la Girardière 2009 (France) Touraine
Domaine de la Gitonnière Touraine Sauvignon 2008 (France) Touraine Blanc
Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
Famille Bougrier 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
Les Grenettes Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
Les Hauts Lieux Domaine Guenault 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc

Domaine de la Perrière 2009 (France) Sancerre Blanc
Domaine Roland Tissier & Fils 2009 (France) Sancerre Blanc

Sauvignon non boisé – more than 12 euros

Trophée Spécial
Casa Marín Sauvignon Blanc Cipresses Vineyard 2009 (Chili)
Médailles d'Or
Domaine du Pré Baron, L'Elégante 2009 (France) Touraine Blanc
La Comtesse 2008, Gérard Boulay  (France) Sancerre Blanc

Sauvignon boisé 

Trophée Spécial   
Château Penin 2009 (France) Bordeaux Blanc
Rose de Sigoulès 2009 (France) Bergerac sec

Médaille d'Argent
Mégalithe 2008, Domaine de la Perriere (France) Sancerre Blanc

2010 le Tour de France: today a lumpy stage past the source of the Loire

Today's 210.5k stage through the Ardèche and into Lozère will be tough, although not as tough as the Alps nor what awaits the riders in the Pyrenées, but it will be a hard grind. Hot again but probably not as hot as yesterday on the road from Bourg-de-Péage and Mende.

There are three First Category climbs and two Seconds. The stage finishes at the top of a Second Category climb – the Côte de la Croix-Neuve Montée Laurent Jalabert. This climb is only 3.1 km but it is steep – an average gradient of 10.1%, so surely Contador and Schleck will be head to head here each trying to claw a few crucial seconds advantage. I will be surprised if one of them doesn't gain a little bit of time here.

About halfway through the stage passes Le Gerbier de Jonc, the source of La Loire, which is as you know at 1000 kms France's longest river that drains two fifths of the country. Its source is only around 100k from the Mediterranean and, as if sensing the easy option, La Loire heads south - south west for its first 15K or so before making a reluctant loop to starting heading north and then westwards to the Atlantic Ocean.

2010 le Tour de France: Cavendish makes it 13 but Renshaw out!

 It was a bitter-sweet victory for Mark Cavendish in Bourg-les-Valence yesterday. he got his third stage victory of this year's Tour in a toughly contested sprint. This brings his overall tally to 13 stage victories. However, Mark Renshaw, Cavendish's excellent and vital lead-out man, was disqualified and thrown out of the race because he tried several times to head butt Julian Dean (Garmin) in the charge to the finish. Dean had moved across and doubtless Renshaw was concerned that this move might block Mark Cavendish's way to get clear. Once Cavendish had departed for home, Renshaw then moved left, which blocked American Tyler Farrar (Garmin). Quite why Tyler was to the left and not behind Dean, his lead out man is not clear. Perhaps it was his famous reflective glasses over-reacting so he couldn't see where he was going. Dean received no punishment – had he kept to his line none of the tussling would have happened.

Anyway 13 stage victories is a tremendous achievement but Mark may find it difficult to add to that tally this year as Renshaw is such a vital cog in the Columbia sprint team. There remain two clear sprint finishes – Bordeaux and the final stage on the Champs d'Elysée, Paris. Tomorrow's stage from Mende to Revel might also end in a sprint. Renshaw also helps Cavendish through the mountains and there is the Pyrenées still to come.

Mark's victory moves him up in the Green Jersey competition, where Alessando Petacchi, who was second yesterday, has taken over from Thor Hushovd, who finished in seventh place and hasn't been at the top of his sprinting this year. Despite all the injuries and hard times he has suffered this Tour Robbie McEwen got third place.

Top five in the Green Jersey Competition

1.    PETACCHI Alessandro       LAMPRE - FARNESE    161 pts
2.    HUSHOVD Thor    CERVELO TEST TEAM    157 pts
3.    MC EWEN Robbie    KATUSHA TEAM    138 pts
4.    CAVENDISH Mark    TEAM HTC - COLUMBIA    132 pts
5.    ROJAS Jose Joaquin   CAISSE D’EPARGNE    122 pts   

It is possible that Thor will try to get into a breakaway at the start of today's lumpy stage to Mende to pick up some intermediate sprint points.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Caves Ouvertes 2010: Menetou-Salon 7th/8th August more details

I have received more information from the Union Viticole de Menetou-Salon about their Caves Ouvertes on the weekend of 7th/8th July. Unfortunately I have had to reduce the size of the flyers to get them onto the blog

List of produces involved

Map of Les Caves Ouvertes 

More details from the Union Viticole de Menetou-Salon
Tél :  - Fax :

2010 le Tour de France: rare Portuguese win on Bastille Day

Most of the riders took a day off on the ride to Gap yesterday – understandable given Tuesday's very tough stage and the continuing heat. This allowed a breakaway of six riders to succeed. The break included two Frenchmen hoping to claim a victory on Bastille Day. However, the six were whittled down to two on the final climb of the day – unfortunately both Frenchmen were dropped. On the sprint to the finish 30-year-old Sergio Paulinho (RadioShack) won with barely half a bike wheel to spare. Paulinho comes from Oeiras, on the western side of Greater Lisbon beside the Tagus. It was a rare Portuguese win in the Tour – there last stage winner was Acácio Da Silva, who got the last of his three stages wins in 1989. Paulinho's win was also the first good news that Armstrong's RadioShack team has had so far this Tour.

Good ride by Nicolas Roche yesterday breaking away from the main bunch on the final hill and gaining 1.21 mins to move him a few places up overall. In contrast Armstrong dropped a further 1.28 mins overall as the bunch must have split on the descent. Still as he is over 17 minutes behind Andy Schleck this is all academic now. 

Today's stage from Sisteron to Bourg-lès-Valence, close to Valence, will see the sprinters come out to play again, especially as the Green Jersey competition is pretty tight between Hushvod and Petacchi. Mark Cavendish will fancy his chances for another stage win providing there isn't a successful breakaway.    

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Le Grand Pressigny: Paysages nocturnes – 19th July - 1st August

Le Grand Pressigny 

'Voilà, c'est parti, acteurs et bénévoles sont sur le pont pour préparer la 12 e édition des Paysages nocturnes, du 19 juillet au 1 er août, au Grand-Pressigny.'  

2010 Le Tour de France: Andy Schleck in Yellow – Alberto 41 seconds behind

Yesterday's toughest Alpine mountain stage brutally exposed the fragility of many of the favourites for overall victory. Three days racing in the Juras and the Alps have left Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador as the only real contenders, as things stand, to win the 2010 Tour de France. Although Schleck has perhaps looked strongest in the mountains and Contador has yet to try an attack, the advantage for the moment remains with Alberto as hitherto Andy is not great at time trials. The penultimate stage is a 51 km individual time trial from Bordeaux to Pauillac and Contador should easily be able to take 41 seconds and more out of Schleck here. The Pyrenees will be decisive but something might happen on the  lumpy 16th stage (this Friday) from Bourg-de-Péage to Mende. Incidentally this stage passes by Le Gerbier de Jonc, the source of La Loire.

Two very courageous rides yesterday – Cadel Evans with a fractured elbow defending his yellow jersey in vain and David Millar's long solo ride at the back weakened by crashes the the first week and now by illness. On the bike Lance Armstrong had a better day but off the bike the news is less good: the investigation into the doping allegations made by Floyd Landis appears to be gathering pace. See here.

Today is a less difficult Alpine stage to Gap. Overall there may be a truce between the two As with the possibility of a breakaway group succeeding.    

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Château du Rivau: still open despite extensive damage to the roof.

La Nouvelle République reports here that Sunday's fire caused considerable damage to the roof and parts of the building that the Château remains open. It is thought that the fire was probably caused by an electrical fault and is not believed to be malicious. Unfortunately the library which had many old books was destroyed.

2010 Le Tour de France: big Alpine stage

Today should be the toughest stage in the Alps with five climbs. First there is the 4th category Côte de Châtillon (a pimple), followed by Col de la Colombière (1st), Col des Aravis (2nd) and the Col des Saisies (1st) and then the big one – Col de la Madeleine, which is hors category at 2000 metres. However, the top of this last climb is 32 kilometres from the finish, although the next 20 kilometres is straight back down but this leaves another 13 k on the flat.    

I suspect that there will only be a small number of top riders left together on the top of the Madeleine but there may not be a decisive shakeout between then as it would be possible to get a few seconds back on the run from the top of the col to the finish. Will Cadel still be in yellow tonight or will Andy Schleck have taken over?

Les 5 du Vin: Jim shares a glass with Modération

Modération considers a chilled glass of Vinho Verde

 Enjoying glass avec Modération and further reflections on matching cyclists to wine

Modération: You know Jim it is high time you had a break. You have been slaving over that laptop all day. You deserve a drink. Time to enjoy the evening Lisbon sunshine.

Jim: As  usual, you’re right Modération! Time for a glass.
Modération: I’d suggest a nicely chilled Alvarinho Vinho Verde.
Jim: It would be rude to argue. I’ll do as you say.

Read the rest here on Les 5 du Vin blog.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Château du Rivau : part of the roof damaged by fire

Yesterday afternoon part of the roof of the Château du Rivau, to the south east of Chinon was  damaged by fire. Rivau is particularly famous for its gardens and the château has recently been renovated. Some 60 people and 20 fire engines some from as far away as Tours were deployed to bring the fire under control.

Read the rest in La Nouvelle République here.

2010 Louis Roederer International (ie English-speaking) Wine Writer Awards: shortlist

Shortlist announced for the Louis Roederer International
Wine Writers’ Awards 2010

After much deliberation and stacks of reading, the judges met to discuss their scores at China Tang, underneath the Dorchester, last week. Despite many late nights and early mornings the panel were alert and raring to go and by lunchtime the shortlist was agreed upon.  Therefore Champagne Louis Roederer and the Judges of the 2010 Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards are delighted to announce this year’s nominees:

International Wine Feature Writer of the Year 2010

Joanne Gibson
Articles from Wine Magazine

Jamie Goode
Articles from The World of Fine Wine

Margaret Rand
Articles from Decanter and The World of Fine Wine

John Stimpfig
Articles from The Financial Times – How to Spend it

International Wine Columnist of the Year 2010

Michael Fridjhon
Columns from Business Day

Andrew Jefford
Columns from Decanter and Waitrose Food Illustrated

Will Lyons
Columns from The Wall Street Journal

Anthony Rose
Columns from The Independent

International Wine Book of the Year 2010

Nick Belfrage
The Finest Wines of Tuscany and Central Italy

Michael Edwards
The Finest Wines of Champagne

Benjamin Lewin
What Price Bordeaux

Remington Norman and Charles Taylor MW
The Great Domaines of Burgundy

Regional Wine Writer of the Year 2010

Tom Bruce-Gardyne
Articles from The Saturday Herald

Rose Murray Brown MW
Articles from The Scotsman

Liz Sagues
Articles from Hampstead and Highgate Express

Helen Savage
Articles from The Journal (Newcastle)

International Wine Publication of the Year 2010

Decanter Magazine
Guy Woodward

Imbibe Magazine
Chris Losh

The World of Fine Wine
Sara Morley

International Wine Website of the Year 2010

Tom Cannavan

Jamie Goode

Gabriella Opaz

Jancis Robinson MW  

International Wine Columnist / Blogger of the Year 2010

Andrew Jefford
Articles from

Anthony Rose
Articles from

Kate Thal
Articles from

Simon Woods
Articles from

Emerging Wine Writer of the Year  2010

Rebecca Gibb
Articles from various publications

Richard Hemming
Articles from

Gabriel Savage
Articles from The Drinks Business

Lucy Shaw
Articles from Decanter

The Artistry of Wine Award  2010

Jamie Goode

Catharine Lowe

Mick Rock

Jon Wyand

The Panel of Judges

Charles Metcalfe
Wine Writer, presenter, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge
Chairman of the Panel of Judges

Tim Atkin MW
Wine Columnist, Feature Writer,
            Lecturer and broadcaster,           
Trophy Winner at LRIWWA 2009

Christine Austin
Author, Lecturer, Wine Columnist,
Trophy Winner at LRIWWA 2009

Christine Parkinson
Group Winebuyer for Hakkasan Restaurants

Susy Atkins
Weekly Wine Columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and Wine Editor for Delicious Magazine, Author and presenter on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen

Victoria Moore
Author, Feature Writer and Wine Columnist

Tom Stevenson
Wine Writer specialising in Champagne, winner of 33 literary awards, including triple trophy winner at the LRIWWA

The winners will be announced and the awards will be presented on Monday 13th September 2010 at a prestigious ceremony (by invitation only) at The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London.


Note to editors:  Where there was a conflict of interest for a judge with a piece of work, the judge did not mark that entry.

For further information about the competition, or the awards presentation, please contact:

James Samson                                                 
Maisons Marques et Domaines Ltd                 
T : 020 8812 3384                                            
E :                    

Carol Sturch-Hibbitt
Pike PR & Marketing Ltd
T : 020 7384 7507