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, 31 January 2012

The Shard on a cold, clear January night

The Shard from the Embankment Bridge (Charing Cross) 

Although not yet completed The Shard@London Bridge has become an increasingly compelling building – a forceful and dominant feature of the London skyscape. Because of its height it is often visible from unexpected places. 

 Taken from the pedestrian Hungerford Bridge beside the railway into Charing Cross (above and below)

1855: going to court? Voici – a recommended firm of Paris lawyers – DDG

1855: 10 Rue des Moulins, Paris: HQ of 'le plus grand choix de vins non livrées sur Internet'

I frequently receive messages from frustrated customers of 1855 seeking advice on what to do about getting hold of their wines. Recently I have received two very positive reports about a law firm in Paris – DDG, who seem to be making taking on 1855 somewhat of a specialty. The people to contact there are Gwendoline Cattier or Pierre Deprez, details at the end of the following report from JH:.

‘As you may be aware, in September 2011 I started a procedure at the Tribunal D'Instance de Paris 1er against I have had to push back the hearing twice as I did not fully appreciate that it was in my interest to get legal counsel given that has full legal representation. Given this development, I have taken's C****’s recommendation and instructed DDG to act for me.

I have just come off the phone with Gwendoline Cattier of DDG and I am very impressed, she obviously knows the situation inside out and was able to walk me through the process.

Even though my next hearing is on 20 March 2012, optimistically I can't expect a refund until July 2012, which allows time for the judge to opine, for the Greffier to publish this and then for this to be executed by 1855. This is the best case scenario, which assumes that 1855 co-operates, failing which we will need to get bailiffs involved. Gwendoline's advice is to ask for the current value of the missing wine and then add the same again as compensation.

The good news is that there are so many on going cases against 1855, that the judges are more than aware of the case and highly likely to take a dim view and side favourably with plaintiffs. However, the bad news is that it pays to start the process as soon as possible given the delays in repayment and obviously the longer the delay to starting proceedings, the higher the risk that 1855 becomes insolvent, particularly with the number of proceedings against them (even though this development would delight me, I still harbour hopes of getting my money back).’

Gwendoline Cattier
Avocat à la Cour
Pierre Deprez
Deprez Guignot Associés
21 Rue Clément Marot, 750008 Paris

It seems to me sensible to employ a French lawyer if you decide to take 1855 to court, especially if you live outside France and if your knowledge of French law is limited. There would appear to be a good chance of your legal fees being paid by 1855.

Here is a previous post that also recommends DDG.


1855 is a probationary member of La Fevad.

From 1855's press release of 31st January 2011 announcing that they had become a member of La Fevad

'La Fevad accorde depuis toujours la plus grande importance à la promotion de règles fondées sur des valeurs de transparence et de respect du consommateur. Ces règles garantissent l`éthique de la profession et permettent de renforcer la confiance des consommateurs, dans l`intérêt de l`ensemble de la profession.'

'Toute entreprise membre de la Fevad s`engage à respecter les principes généraux et les règles prévus par les codes et chartes de la Fevad, tant dans l`esprit que dans la lettre.

"Le fait pour 1855 d`être devenu membre à part entière de la Fevad et signataire de ses codes et chartes est une nouvelle illustration de notre engagement à bâtir une qualité de service de référence » selon Fabien Hyon, Directeur général de 1855."

Born Digital Awards 2011 – time running out – only a few hours left!

Horniman Museum clock: London SE23

Last ticks of the clock for 2011 Born Digital Award entries 

Strike action in the UK has extended the deadline for submitting tax returns on line by two days until midnight on 2nd February but there is no such extension for those wanting to enter the 2011 edition of the Born Digital Awards.  The deadline is midnight tonight (31st January) GMT

The organisers are particularly keen to have entries in languages other than English. Click here for the entry forms and details. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Epeigné-les-Bois: Fête de la Saint Vincent 2012

Crowded Salle des Fêtes for the 2012 Saint-Vincent (photos: Mark Robertson)

Report on yesterday's Saint-Vincent celebrations in Epeigné from Mark Robertson, vigneron and correspondent sur-place for Jim's Loire: 

'A very successful Saint Vincent in Epeigné yesterday, organised by the Comité des Fêtes. François Garanne was the St Vincent this year, and he and Guy Henault ( a retired vigneron and doyen of the CDF) planted a vine each along the cemetery wall.

The Gidelle presented their traditional dance following which there was a wine tasting (Cave Francueil, J C Legrand and Cave Garanne). The Salle des Fêtes was packed for the lunch prepared by M. Emery of Luzille, we were 92 at table.

A menu and photo of the wines is attached. As you can see the Cave Cooperative have redesigned their label which looks a bit more modern. The 2009 Côt was actually quite good.

During a brief speech Francois Garanne mentioned that there are still approx 30ha of vines planted at Epeigné so all is not lost. A distinguished guest at the lunch was Alain Kerbriand-Postic former mayor of St Martin le Beau and Conseiller General – seen bottom left in conversation with Michel Mergot.

The volunteers of the municipal library arranged an exhibition ‘La vigne et le vin’ which was provided by the Conseil General. This comprised some informative posters and a selection of interesting books on all aspects of wine.

Apparently the dancing (and reading) continued until late in the evening.'


Menu and line-up of bottles 

Duo of crus communaux + Finkus Bripp interviews 'This blogger'

Finkus Bripp: "Can anyone tell me why I've got a camera growing out of
my ear and a shade attached to my cap? I thought I did the off-beat stuff!"

Plenty of entertaining this weekend that gave me the opportunity to try out some more of the Muscadet crus communaux and to gauge people's reactions to them.

First on Saturday evening we had friends over for dinner. The willingness of our recently opened fishmongers and butchers – Billings – to take orders prompted me to opt for a first course of mulet aux olives et au vin blanc (grey mullet with olives and white wine) served cold. This simple recipe comes from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking and used to be one of my regular dishes in the days when Richards, a fine fishmonger in Brewer Street in the heart of London's Soho still existed. Sadly this shop along with others like Hamburger (also on Brewer Street specialising in a variety of smoked fish) and Gomez Ortega (a wonderful Spanish grocers on nearby Old Compton Street) have long gone. Grey mullet came hard to find. The dish is very easy to make but served cold and decorated with thin slices of lime and lemon can look pretty impressive. As an experiment we offered the option of some Polish horseradish sauce bought from Topolski in Druid Street. It worked well.

2006 Monnières Saint-Fiacre, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

With the mullet we drank the 2006 Monnières Saint-Fiacre, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine from Véronique Gunther-Chereau at Château du Coing. The Monnières' quite opulent and rich fruit matched the meaty flesh of the mullet and with enough acidity to freshen the palate. Our friends were surprised to discover a Muscadet in this style and of such quality.

Finkus Bripp

Then yesterday lunchtime Finkus Bripp (wine on the rocks) made his way down from Hendon to South London to interview 'this blogger'. Finkus is normally based in Munich but is over in the UK for a few days. He continues to be a busy boy having recently launched his own 'pointless' wine shop and making a wine in Portugal's Douro Valley.

Miolo Brut, Franciacorta, Villa Crespia

In preparation for the rigours of the 'on the rocks' interview we had a glass of the full textured Miolo Brut, Franciacorta from Villa Crespia with its toasty and honeyed notes balanced by good, ripe acidity. Sadly this was the last of our half bottles that we brought back from our October visit to Franciacorta for the European Wine Bloggers Conference. These halves have proved to be a very useful and practical size providing an evening apéro for two or even a glass each for three people.

Then over a light lunch – baked omelette with bacon, potato and cheese and salad – we tried another Muscadet from Véronique Gunther-Chereau – the 2005 Château de la Gravelle from Gorges. This proved to be more mineral than the 2006, which was somewhat of a surprise for the vintage but may instead be a reflection of the terroir of Gorges. The Gravelle, however, did have enough buttery weight to partner the omelette.

Finkus prepares to interview 'this blogger'

Lunch over it was onto a wide-ranging interview with Finkus (shot using a Canon EOS 7 with a 16-35 L lens) – to be released at some date in the future.

The trademark Bripp cap – 'the Bripp effect'

Sunday, 29 January 2012

New book: The Finest Wines of Burgundy

The Finest Wines of Burgundy by Bill Nanson with photos by Jon Wyand £20, 320 pages  
I recently received a copy of this new book on Burgundy – the lastest in the World of Fine Wines in cooperation with Aurum Press. The text is written by Bill Nanson, author of the highly respected on-line Burgundy Report, while the photos are by Jon Wyand. Jon is a very fine photographer and Burgundy is his particular passion. I haven't yet had time to read all of Bill's text but have had time to look through Jon's photos to see how an expert goes about their work and get some tips on how to improve my portrait photos, while trying to avoid copying!

Millésime Bio 2012: The first day (cont)

2010 Clos de Guichaux, Saumur, Domaine Guiberteau (Romain Guiberteau)

At Millésime Bio I tasted a number of fine dry Loire Chenins – some already featured on the earlier post.

2010 Clos de Guichaux, Saumur, Domaine Guiberteau
Romain Guiberteau has just under 10 hectares of vines. The Clos de Guichaux is in Bizay near to Brézé and was planted with Chenin in 2003/4 with the first vintage in 2008. So far Romain has planted 1.5ha of this three hectare Clos. The area around Brézé is particularly known and suited for its whites from Chenin Blanc. The 2010 Clos de Guichaux is rich, powerful with good concentration, long apricot flavour and considerable potential to age.

2009 Le Sec de Juchepie 'Le Clos', Anjou, Eddy & Mileine Oosterlinck-Bracke 

Eddy & Mileine Oosterlinck-Bracke at Domaine Juchepie are best known for their Coteaux du Layons but their dry whites should not be overlooked. Again this is a ripe and full Chenin with fine mineral character and length. 

2009 Jarret de Montchenin, Anjou, Château de Passavant

Château de Passavant is in the upper Layon Valley. The rich 2009 Jarret is barrel fermented with attractive notes of honey and is reasonably priced at 14€ from the château. The Passavant 'basic' 2010 Chenin is crisp, lemony, easy drinking and is also fairly priced at 6.25€.  

Château de Passavant





Saturday, 28 January 2012

London SE23: some winter sunrises

  January rise  

One of the few advantages of the long winter nights is that you can take photos of the sunrise while still getting up at a reasonable time. Here are a few January 2012 sunrises over south London.   

 Looking towards Downham, Bexley, Dartford etc. + vapour trails (above and below)

Hopeful Chenin: a view from South Africa

Jim in South Africa with Lucy Warner – 2001

A view from Tim James on South African Chenin Blanc – highlighting their good fortune in having a significant proportion of old vines.

Hopeful Chenin  
Cinderella and workhorse were favourite clichés to describe the role of chenin blanc in the local wine industry of olden days. Well, it is a good few years since the horse has come to the ball and it is great to have her.

Although the quality of chenin blancs has undoubtedly improved (as well as being sometimes pushed too far with excessive ripeness, sugar and oak), quantity has fallen drastically. Chenin blanc used to occupy a third of the Cape vineyard, but is now at ­little more than 18%.

But no other variety has as large a ­proportion of old vines - many 40 years old at least - giving low crops, the intensity and finesse of which wine-lovers should happily pay a premium for and, incidentally, help to save such vineyards from ruthless, ­axe-­wielding accountants.'

Submitted by Tim James on 24 January, 2012 - 07:31

Link to the Chenin Blanc Association based in South Africa. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Horniman Gardens changes

 Renovated bandstand@Hormiman Gardens 

Three photos of renovation work now going in the Horniman Gardens (London SE23):

The bandstand with the view of the City beyond 

New animal quarters under construction 

Millésime Bio 2012: a few more portraits

Jean Noël Millon, Saumur Champigny, La Source du Ruault

François Chidaine: Montlouis, Touraine and Vouvray

An Italian exhibitor relaxing: everyone has the same sized, unfancy tables

Time to text...

See also some photos by Michel Smith (Les 5 du Vin) here.

The Born Digital Wine Awards: 5 Days Left to Submit!!!

The Born Digital Wine Awards submission process is coming into the final stretch, with less than 5 days left to submit your work! Entries close on 31st January at midnight GMT (Gabriella Mean Time) and any work first published on the net is elligible.

Skim through your best 2011 content, in any language, and submit up to 3 pieces across any of the following categories:

Best Wine Themed Video
Best Editorial Wine Writing
Best Investigative Wine Story
Best Wine Tourism Feature
Best Winery Self Produced Content
Best Wine Photo Essay

The submission process is free and winners will be awarded 1,000 euros!!


The Circle of Wine Writers is one of the partners of the Born Digital Awards. The Circle has just under 300 members worldwide and welcomes membership applications from regular bloggers. For further information, please contact the Circle's administrator, Andrea Warren, at




Other partners:


Southampton–Tours: twice weekly return flights from 16th May

Tours Airport

Starting from Wednesday 16th May Flybe will be running twice weekly flights from Southampton to Tours. They will be on Wednesday and Saturday and will run until 8th September. One way tickets will cost 45€. Flybe will run 68 flights this year and anticipate carrying 3,744 passengers of which 70% are expected to be British and 30% French. Flights will take 45 minutes. The other flight option to Tours from South East England is London Stansted operated by Ryanair.

There will also be weekly flights to Corsica (Ajaccio) from Tours, stopping at Châteauroux on the way. These flights will be operated by Air Corsica and will start at the beginning of May and run until September.
More details from La Nouvelle République here.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Millésime Bio 2012: some portraits

Jonathan Pabiot and Nina Schomakers (Domaine Jonathan Pabiot, Pouilly-Fumé + Pouilly-sur-Loire)

It was difficult to make many posts during Millésime Bio 12. It was necessary to decide whether to seize the opportunity and taste as much as possible or take time out to post. I chose the former as it is always possible to post after the event and it gives you time to reflect on what you have tasted. In the event I tasted wines from nearly all the around 60 Loire producers present at the show and will be returning to wines that impressed me. It was also the opportunity to take a few pics of Loire producers – some shown here:    

Jonathan Pabiot

Nina Schomakers
Loïc Mahé (Savennières)
Vincent Caillé, Domaine Faye d'Homme, Monnières (Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine)
Damien Delecheneau, La Grange Tiphaine, ACs Montlouis and Touraine 

Vincent Roussely, Domaine du Clos Roussely (AC Touraine)

Pierre Gauthier, Bourgueil, Domaine du Bel-Air

Loire moustaches: Pierre Gauthier (Bourgueil –above) and Joseph Landron (Muscadet – below) shared the same table