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

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Lynda's great 60th party@Hugo Naón's El Nacional

Lynda's sparkling cake

The menu

Last night and early into this morning we had a great birthday party with Lynda at Hugo Naón's El Nacional in Bordeaux. The food was excellent, in particular the lamb grilled on the parrilla – the special Argentine grill that Hugo had installed in the restaurant and which is the centre piece of the cooking.

Champagne Nicolas Maillart to start

Derek and a glass of Maillart


2009 Rémus, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups

Unfortunately Bordeaux doesn't grow Chenin Blanc, so Lynda and Derek had to import some 2009 Rémus in from Montlouis to the party's general approval. Although 2009 is likely to be less long lived than the very precise and classic 2008 Rémus, I think the 2009 fitted the bill better last night as it is rounder and softer than the 2008. It also went very well with the assortment of tapas and charcuterie served for the first course.

2007 Château l'Eglise, Montagne Saint-Emilion

The lamb


2007 was a difficult vintage in Bordeaux with the wines not expected to have a long life. However, this softly textured 2007 and I suspect others are drinking well at the moment. This went very well with the delciously succulent lamb. An example of a wine that high not get a high score in a tasting but which was abolutely right for the occasion.

Digestif: 10 ans d'Age, Bas Armagnac, Francis Darroze

Back in August we had lunch at El Nacional and it was clear that there were some teething problems. These have clearly been sorted out as last night was excellent. I gather from Hugo that he is now doing 2000 covers a month, which is considerably more than he thought he would be doing at this stage in the restaurant's first year. Hugo will have to keep this level up as his girlfriend is expecting their first child due next July!


Hugo and Derek

Young chef

Vivek Singh: Cinnamon Club
bottle chandelier
Jazz pianist who started the evening off

Some more pics:

Lynda and one of the servers

The amazing cake

Derek and Sue

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Plachutta: exploring the art of lunch in Vienna

 2009 Federspiel, Hinter Der Burg, Grüner Veltliner, Prager

It is, of course, self evident that lunch is not the same as dinner. There is a thrill about a long lunch that is naturally not present at dinner as part of the fun of a week day lunch is that others are working while you are enjoying and pampering yourself. Even for the self-employed there is the delicate whiff of the illicit about settling down to a good lunch.

There was an element of this last Monday seated in Plachutta, an apparently well known Viennese restaurant and certainly buzzy with good, skilled service. Looking at the wine list before CRM arrived – I had stayed on at the Renaissance Hotel getting on with the 99th edition of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers. CRM had headed out to do some sightseeing, although sadly the lovely weather of the first two days of the European Wine Bloggers' Conference had been replaced by wet, cool weather.

I had hoped that the restaurant would have some half bottles, so that we could have a white for the apero and a red for the Tafel Spitz (boiled beef in stock with vegetables and marrow bone), which one of us planned to have since it is the restaurant's speciality. One guide book claimed that they had raised Tafel Spitz to an art form – which proved to be the case.

There were no half bottles, although there was a selection of wines by the glass but I decided to a go for a bottle of 2009 Grüner Veltliner from Prager (Wachau), which had both some youthful weight and mineral vibrancy and was actually a surprisingly good counterpoint to the beef.

We shared the selection of starters, which included beefsteak tatar and jellied goose liver paté. Then came the tafel spitz for CRM. You start with some of the stock and vegetables, before trying the generously thick slice of boiled beef. I don't know what the cut used is but it seemed similar to sirloin and wonderfully tender. Left out of the stock for a while the beef did become a little less melting. You finish with the beef marrow spread on dark rye bread.

Clearly tafel spitz belongs to the tradition of substantial dishes like pot au feu that are often eaten as two dishes the cooking liquid and then the meat and vegetables, although certainly Plachutta's version is decidedly refined.  

I chose that other typical Viennese dish – Wiener Schnitzel – here made with the traditional veal rather than pork and also excellent. A fine pampered lunch and a fitting conclusion to our stay in Vienna. 

2000 Les Cépages Oubliées Gamay de Bouze

2000 Les Cépages Oubliées. Vin de pays Jardin de la France, Henry Marionnet

This 2000 from Henry Marionnet is still remarkably youthful with a full rich, deep colour – Gamay de Bouze is a teinturier (red fleshed grape) so it naturally has plenty of colour. It has plenty of ripe, black fruits, especially blackberry, and is very much a wine to enjoy with friends. Tasted blind I would be surprised if anyone guessed that this is now ten years old.

It is also difficult to see why on this evidence Gamay de Bouze is considered to be of lower quality than 'normal' Gamay de Jus Blanc' – the white fleshed variety that is now today's standard in Beaujolais, Touraine, Côte Roannaise etc. Gamay de Bouze has partly become a forgotten variety, I think, because it is not a permitted variety in AC Touraine. Although it is understandable that the French wanted to move away from the widespread use of hybrids following the devastation of phylloxera, it has reduced the diversity of grape varieties and given wine drinkers a more limited range of flavours. 

Friday, 29 October 2010

News: Patrick Baudouin on Loire 2010 and Christian Stevanin + EWBC film

Quarts de Chaume: bunch of grapes 26th September 2010

Brief news of 2010 vintage from Patrick Baudouin on his blog then a post concentrating on Christian Stevanin of the Lycée Hôtelier in Dinard, who will retire next year. 

'Mercredi le 20 octobre, 12 heures : fin des vendanges 2010. Très belles vendanges, nous en reparlerons. Mais surtout, ce jour là, à Princé, nous avons eu un visiteur.  Christian Stevanin. Ce n’est pas un vigneron star, un journaliste vedette du vin. Pas un chef étoilé...  C’est "simplement" un enseignant, en sommellerie, du lycée hôtelier de Dinard. Un prof, quoi, qui va prendre sa retraite en 2011.. Quand je vois ou pense à Christian, je pense irrésistiblement aux paroles de Claude Got, l’hygiéniste ...'


3rd European Wine Bloggers' Conference: Vienna 
Five minute film here of the conference on YouTube made by the Austrian Wine. Over 20 places already sold for next year's addition.


Notes on a Loire trip from Oswaldo Costa

Coulée de Serrant: grapes in late September

Some fine notes here on The Wine Lovers Forum on a recent trip to the Loire in mid-October by Oswaldo Costa. Includes visits to René Mosse, Richard Leroy, Jo Pithon and Coulée de Serrant – very sorry to hear that Nicolas Joly apparently suffered a slight stroke recently and trust that he will soon be fully recovered.*   

Read the notes here. My thanks to Albertan Bob for informing me about this post.

Nicolas Joly

* Very pleased to hear from Nicolas that it was nothing serious:

'pas de probleme Jim , c'etait juste une petite protestation de l'organisme devant les avions, aeroport, et hotels plein de giga hertz par le WIFI . 
Il y a des tissus et des vetements qui protegent  totalement de ces frequences qui ne conviennent pas du tout a l'homme ( Steiner l'avait deja prevu  au debut du 2O eme siecle ...comme la vache folle du reste) je vais m'equiper !!!
Merci de ton mail

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sunrise over South London: Tuesday 26th October 2010

Looking towards the Dartford Bridge and Gravesend

4th European Wine Bloggers Conference and Born Digital Wine Awards

As announced on Saturday night in Vienna the 4th European Wine Bloggers' Conference will be held in Brescia and will feature the sparkling wines of Franciacorta. Registration for EWBC4 opened today@ Places are limited at 200.

The American Wine Bloggers' Conference is in Virginia on July 22-24, 2011, where you can taste the wines of the Eastern seaboard of the USA. Register HERE! Places are limited at 325.


Further details on the new Born Digital Wine Awards here. In some quarters these awards have been nicknamed The White Noise Awards.

Robert Parker and 'white noise'

There is an interesting interview by Bernard Burtschy with Robert Parker posted on Le Blog du Grand Jury – particularly interesting following Elin McCoy's presentation  on Friday at the European Wine Bloggers' Conference. The interview was originally published in L'Amateur de Bordeaux in French. Initially Bernard covers the 2009 Bordeaux vintage but then finishes by asking Parker about his views on the internet.   

The quote here gives a flavour:

'It is my experience that the more "white noise" that comes from free wine forums and blogs, the higher the amount of irrelevant, badly written, grossly incompetent, and negligent wine information is posted. If anything, the proliferation of free wine forums and blogs has actually pushed more and more people to seek out experts who do the work, who have no agenda, who study and appraise the situation fully.' 

Unlike Elin McCoy, Parker clearly believes that the internet has actually strengthened the position of 'ivory tower' critics. It would be interesting to have some hard facts on who the younger generation of wine drinkers get their wine information and advice from and who they trust. 

Incidentally I think the term 'ivory tower' can only be applied to a few critics as a number of the top wine writers spend a lot of their time visiting vineyards around the world.

See also my report on the conference here.


70% more wine bloggers at European conference
Written by Gemma McKenna   
Thursday, 28 October 2010
The European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC), held in Vienna over the weekend, attracted 70% more bloggers this year than last.

2010 Les Vins du Coin: Saturday 4th-Sunday 5th December, Blois

This is an annual event featuring 'natural' wine producers Mainly from Touraine. Sadly it falls at a bad time for me as I think it is a really interesting line up. Will have to see what I can do for 2011.

Les vignerons

Bruno Allion — Domaine de Pontcher, Béatrice et Michel Augé — Domaine des Maisons Brûlées, Mikaël Bouges, Samuel Boulay, Alain Courtault et Simon Tardieux, Joël Courtault — Domaine de Bel-Air, Christophe Foucher — Domaine de la Lunotte, Nathalie Gaubicher et Christian Chaussard — Domaine Le Briseau, Renaud Guettier — La Grapperie, Emile Heredia — Domaine de Montrieux, Olivier Lemasson — Les Vins Contés, Noëlla Morantin, Pascal Potaire — Les Capriades, Jean Marie et Thierry Puzelat — Clos du Tue-boeuf, Thierry Puzelat et Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, Sylviane et Michel Quenioux — Domaine de Veilloux, Jean-Pierre Robinot — Les Vignes de l’Ange Vin, Anne-Cécile Roy — Domaine des Roy, Jérôme Sauvète — Domaine Sauvète, Laura Semeria — Domaine de Montcy, Cyrille Sevin, Pascal Simonutti — Le Pré Noir, Jean-Luc Tessier, Philippe Tessier — Domaine Philippe Tessier, Hervé Villemade — Domaine du Moulin

Antoine Simoneau: portes ouvertes Samedi 27 Novembre

 Shop@Antoine Simoneau

Open day@Antoine Simoneau, Le Domaine de la Rablais, 20 Rue des Vendanges, 41400 Saint-Georges-sur-Cher, tel:, 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Wachau in the gloom: Sunday 24th October 2010

All wine boat trips should start from here!

After two glorious days (Friday and Saturday) largely spent inside@the European Wine Bloggers Conference Sunday turned out to be pretty miserable – a foggy but atmospheric morning which turned into a miserable wet afternoon and evening.

Here are a few photos of the earlier part of the day – mainly the boat trip along the Danube from Spitz to Dürnstein past many of the Wachau vineyards.
The gloom and the Danube

Durnstein through the murk
Dürnstein: statue and vines
Dürnstein: Weingut Schmidl
Dürnstein: spider's web, vines and railings

Perhaps more to add.


Quarts de Chaume: Florent Baumard

Am very pleased to have received the following information from Florent Baumard relating to previous posts on cryoextraction and yields in the Quarts de Chaume :

'We just finished our harvest today, under sunshine.

I just had no time to reply yet to your mail.

These green grapes were not going to produce Quarts de Chaume of course. Although, the fantastic arrière saison we had, brought amazing botrytis all over the vineyard this year. I had never seen such conditions, and the wines (even from so so grapes should be very fine...)

Of course, only the adequate grapes are used for Quarts de Chaume, the others end up in non aoc wine, or remain in the vineyard. But with chenin blanc, the color of the grape is not sufficient to judge it's quality, but we will talk about it when you next come. 

And selection in all senses makes Quarts de Chaume.

I am now grown up enough to know what to do with my grapes, and to decide of the way to cultivate. If you had contacted me then, I would have explained the reasons and situation.' 

Naturally when I next visit Domaine des Baumard I will be posting a full account of our discussions. 

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The 'supreme Leitão' series: I'm here with ... (part 2)

... Emidio Santos (Adegga)

This series has been inspired by

News flash: Thursday 28th October. Sadly Mr Suckling has removed his video from youtube. Fortunately it can still be enjoyed here: 

... The  wine sloth
... Susanne Staggl (PR & Marketing – Austrian Wine)
... Tom Harrow (wine hitchhiker and winechap)

,,, The Danube wifi maestro

... Denise Medrano out sleuthing
... Gabriella Opaz and Willi Klinger (Mr Austrian wine)
.... Giampiero Nadali (

... a pair of cherubs

... Edlweiss

More to follow