Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 10 September 2010

Stars from the Layon: a few reflections

Catherine and Vincent Ogereau; Joëlle and Claude Papin, Marie-Annick and Yves Guegniard
Although brief, it was a very successful visit to London this week by the stars of the Layon – both the meet the winemakers tasting and dinner at the RSJ Restaurant on Monday and then the small press tasting and lunch on the Tuesday. Furthermore the six Musketeers managed to get back to Anjou on the Tuesday night despite transport strikes in both London and France.
As Vincent explains here, they just managed to catch the train to Angers at Montparnasse by sprinting down the platform:

'Ier  mousquetaire : Claude (notre chef)
2ème mousquetaire : Yves, à 8 secondes
3ème mousquetaire : moi, à 10 secondes
4ème, 5ème et 6ème mousquetaires : Joëlle, Marie-Annick et Catherine, à environ 30 secondes.
Fermeture des portes du train : 10 secondes plus tard.'

At Montparnasse it's a long way from the Metro platform Line 4 (from the Gard du Nord – the Eurostar station) and the mainline platforms. Furthermore it is a bit of an obstacle course as you go up and down staircases.

Six not three
Although I referred to the three stars of the Layon, it should really be the six as the women are very much part of the team. Indeed it is probably they who really keep the show on the road. They organised the trip to London, for example.

More reflections to follow later this morning.

10.40 pm Rioja
Apologies my promise of further reflections this morning proved to be over-optimistic – mainly because I had a number of things to do before flying out to Spain mid-afternoon. I'm now in Logroño for the 2010 edition of Los Grandes de la Rioja.


Anyway back to the reflections on the Layon stars' visit. Many on Monday night remarked on how different the three Savennières from the Clos le Grand Beaupréau were. Even though there are variations between the sites of each growers vines in the Clos – Claude and Joëlle's, for example, are at the top on the higher slopes, each producer's Savennières has a different personality.

Claude said that the better the vignerons the more marked are the differences from similar plots and that wines made by poor vignerons or those with high yields and who pick at the wrong time when the grapes are not flavour ripe the more the wines are similar.   


At the Tuesday press tasting and lunch one of the older vintages included was the 1997 Anjou Villages Cuvée from Domaine Ogereau. This was the last year that Catherine and Vincent blended in their Cabernet Sauvignon with the Franc. It was showing wonderfully well with complex sweet and spicy fruit, lovely texture and structure with soft tannins and a long finish. Amazing value given that this 1997 probably retailed for around 25-30 FF, so possibly around 4/5€. Put into a line up of Bordeaux wines I fancy it would be far from disgraced.   

From a high point to a potential low one, I gather that there is a demand from a few of the Quarts de Chaume producers that the Quarts de Chaume syndicat should agree to allow the use of cryoextraction, which would help to concentrate the wine in difficult vintages. This would also mean that the grapes could be picked less ripe and thus not at optimum ripeness and would allow higher yields, so commercially more attractive.

If Quarts de Chaume really is a top Loire terroir/site and one must assume it is as it has both its own appellation and there have been two recent court cases to defend its reputation from the interlopers of Chaume, then it has no need of cryoextraction or other similar processes. 

I trust that the Quarts de Chaume Syndicat will ensure that cryoextraction has no place in their appellation. Equally I can see no reason why it should be permitted in the Layon, particularly in the village wines. Should the Syndicat mistakenly agree to allow the use of cryoextraction then this would be a real threat to the reputation of the Quarts de Chaume.

Any Quarts de Chaume producer who wants to be able to use cryoextraction to make their wines is very welcome to make their case here. Either by posting a comment or by sending me an email at  

Excellent comment from David McDuff on the Facebook link ( to this post:

'David McDuff Let's hope the syndicat votes it down. Quarts de Freezer would be a true travesty.' 

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