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, 30 June 2012

2012 Tour de France: Fabian Cancellara wins Prologue and is in Yellow

Decorated shop in Pauillac in 2010 for the finish of the time trial from Bordeaux 

Clearly I should have gone for Fabian Cancellara to win the prologue as seven seconds in such a short distance is winning by a mile! Tony Martin might have had second place if he hadn't the rotten misfortune to puncture but even so Cancellara would still have won comfortably. Good ride by Bradley Wiggins down by six seconds on long-time leader Sylvain Chavanel at the half-way stage to take the six seconds back on the second half and just pip Chavanel. However, Chavanel's ride was for me the big surprise of the day. Also fine ride by Denis Menchov – just six seconds behind Wiggins – plus also David Millar only 18 seconds down despite being ill over the last couple of days. 

Wonderful ride, of course, for Cancellara after his injury in the Tour of Flanders but a successful and morale boosting start for Bradley Wiggins taking time on all the overall contenders: Cadel Evans (10 secs), Vincenzo Nibali (11 secs), Levi Leipheimer and Jurgen van den Broeck (21 secs) and Frank Schleck (30 secs). Difficult to see Frank Schleck as a serious contender in this year's edition given his limitations in time trialling as well as descending. Will he even finish the Tour this year?

Young Peter Sagan (22 years old) looked impressive but overcooked it on one of the roundabouts. Clearly youthful over-enthusiasm but he may well feature in the days to come. Whether he will go all the way to Paris is another matter as 22 is young for a Tour ride. 

Fabian Cancellara is now on 8 stage wins equal with Barry Hoban, Marco Pantani, Rudi Altig among others. List of all time stage winners now updated here.

Tomorrow morning some thoughts on the far from easy first full stage.      

2012 Tour de France: the Prologue

Little time for a bottle of red during the Prologue! 

At 14.00 (CET) Tom Veelers will head down the ramp and be the first rider to start the short, full-out 6.4 kilometre ride through the streets of Liège. The course is virtually flat with four roundabouts to negotiate – two which should be possible to sweep through as long as it stays dry and two with 180˚ turns. The forecast this afternoon is overcast around 21˚C with a wind speed of 30K veering from the south to south west during the afternoon. This may make the final kilometre or so particularly tough.

Riders will follow Veelers at one minute intervals until the last man sets off, the 198th rider Cadel Evans as last year's Tour winner – at 17.17. Most of the favourites for the Prologue are towards the end: Dave Zabriskie (16.49), Peter Sagan (16.50 – the very promising young rider), Tony Martin (16.58), Denis Menchov (17.04), Jurgen van den Broeck (17.06 – Georges Meekers's tip for yellow), Bradley Wiggins (17.07), Fabian Cancellara (17.16 – Fabian won his first Tour stage, the 2004 Prologue, here in Liège) followed by last man Evans. Frank Schleck is off at 16.54 – how much time will he lose?     

My guess for the winner: I'll play safe and go for either Tony Martin or Fabian Cancellara with Martin my marginal favourite, although it would be good to see Cancellara repeat his 2004 triumph and get Yellow for the first full stage. I will be surprised if Evans and Wiggins are far behind. 

Details of where you can find live coverage here on steephillTV.

Also Le Journal du Tour.


Multiple Tour winner, Lance Armstrong, has been formally charged with doping between 1999 and 2011. Details here.

Lisbon: One Love Family@Freguisia de Santa Isabel

One Love Family@the Festa of Santa Isabel, Lisboa

Last evening we dropped round to catch part of One Love Family's extended set at the Festa of Santa Isabel, which is running over this weekend. Later today it is the Lucky Duckies – 25 Anos from 21h. although it probably actually starts later. Friendly and relaxed neighbourhood festival.    


Lead singer

 Guitarist and singer

The bar


Somebody has to work! – No such thing as a free concert!

Friday, 29 June 2012

2012 Tour de France: Velonews on leading contenders

2010 Pauillac: end of the time trial 

With well under 24 hours before the first rider sets off in the Prologue at Liège signalling the start of the 2012 Tour de France, here is a good round up by Velonews of the contenders for overall victory. Naturally these include the two big favourites – Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins – but also there are profiles on the following riders: Vincenzo Nibali, Fränk Schleck (personally a very long shot given the amount of time trialling), Chris Horner, Ryder Hesjedal (winner of this year's Giro d'Italia), Levi Leipheimer, Alejandro Valverde and Juanjo Cobo, Samuel Sánchez and Denis Menchov.   


1855: Emeric Sauty de Chalon and Fabien Hyon: not people to do business with ...

'Fraudeur': Fabien Hyon, Directeur Général en charge des opération: Not someone to do business with 
(another photo on 1855 site)

Charles Ponzi – the inspiration for 1855?

'Fraudeur': Emeric Sauty de Chalon: Président de 1855: Not someone to do business with.

Plus video of Emeric Sauty de Chalon explaining how the internet is a wondrous tool for trousering clients money and not delivering wares ordered. I would be surprised if L'Express were not now a little queasy at this video of Emeric Sauty de Chalon as a 'Who's Who in France!

The saga of this 1855 arnarque (fraud) continues without interruption and increasingly includes the associated companies: Cave Privée and ChâteauOnline.

Cave Privée from La Passion du Vin forum

J'ai recu aujourd'hui (28.6.2012) un mail d'un ami vigneron champenois réputé: 

"Chers Amis, Chers confrères vignerons et négociants,Vous trouverez en copie ci-après, l’e-mail envoyé à la société C... P..... en fin de semaine dernière,… resté sans réponse à ce jour ! Vous pourrez vous rendre compte de l’attention que ses dirigeants portent à leurs fournisseurs en ne répondant à aucune de nos sollicitation. La société C... P..... nous doit en effet 4248.79€ dont la majeure partie depuis plus d’un an, sans qu’il nous soit possible de joindre une personne décisionnaire pour en obtenir le règlement. Je vous invite à redoubler de méfiance à leur égard, ou mieux encore à boycoter cette société qui depuis son rachat, a adopté les mêmes méthodes de gestion que celles de sa nouvelle maison mère : Je vous autorise bien évidemment à transmettre ce courrier à vos amis vignerons et négociants, membres de vos associations, susceptibles d’être en relation avec eux. Pour plus d’informations, n’hésitez-pas à nous contacter. Bien à vous." ......,179053,683576#msg-683576

There is also a recent post on this thread by a client of Cave Privée who has ordered some of Guy Bossard's fine Muscadet. The order has been placed by Cave Privée but has not been dispatched because the wine has not been paid for. 

Only this week Decanter magazine asked me to write a response to a client of ChâteauOnline. The client, who is based in the UK, had ordered some 2008 Bordeaux en primeur. Now ChâteauOnline are refusing to deliver his 2008 en primeurs to the UK and he is finding it impossible to contact them.

1855 (two messages today)
Un nouveau commentaire (29.6.2012) vient d'être posté sur la note "" du weblog "Chroniques Vineuses" :

N'arrivant à joindre personne via telephone et mail, je laisse ce message.

Je suis toujours en attente d une commande de 12 bouteilles primeur 2008 de Chasse Spleen, commande nº 363489862867.

Two: :
"Bonjour, J'ai envoyé un message le 12 juin, j'ai reçu une réponse lapidaire par mail, mais toujours rien reçu de ma commande de vin primeur 2009!! Entre temps, l'assemblée a eu lieu, les administrateurs ont reçu leur 30 000 € de cachet voté par les actionnaires! Nous les acheteurs, nous attendons le bon vouloir de 1855 de livrer les commandes payées!!! Amis lecteurs, avez vous une association de défense avec avocat? merci pour vos réponses."


The first clear lesson here is not to buy from 1855, Cave Privée or ChateauOnline.

The second lesson is that if your wine does not turn up in reasonable time to take legal action in France or, if you have paid by credit card, to get a refund from your credit card company. 

2012 Pique-nique chez le vigneron et Grande Tablée Saumur-Champigny

@Isabelle et Aynard Clermont-Tonnerre in their Montlouis vineyard 

Elise Girard of Les Vignerons Indépendants du Centre Val de Loire has put together a selection of photos here from the domaines who were involved in this year's Pique-nique chez le vigneron. The photos show what a simple but excellent and very enjoyable idea this initiative is. I look forward to the 2013 edition!   

@Château de l'Aulée, Azay-le-Rideau


2012 Saumur-Champigny La Grande Tablée – 11th edition

Part of the crowd@2005 edition 

Cette année le menu change, on pourra retrouver notamment :
  •  Les champignons farcis de France Champignons.
  • Le flan de légumes et le concassé de tomates de la Rosée des Champs.
  • La tête au carré par Sebastien Girardeau.
  • Les fromages de chèvre de la ferme Louvy.
  • Les muffins aux fruits d'Anjou Myrtille.

Bien sûr cela accompagné de Saumur Champigny, à discrétion !

Vous pourrez visiter ou revisiter le Saumur Champigny à travers le temps et les expressions des millésimes qui vous seront proposés. Les vignerons, aux barriques, vous serviront la Cuvée des 100 et vous informeront sur les conditions de récolte et la typicité des millésimes proposés.
La spécificité de la Cuvée des 100 est d'être élaborée à partir des raisins apportés par l'ensemble des 100 vignerons de l'appellation. Elle est une photographie de l'appellation.

Prochaine édition mercredi 1er et jeudi 2 août
Attention les tickets sont datés du jour de la soirée et ne sont en aucune façon interchangeables
Tarifs :  Repas + verre de dégustation 11 €  -  verre de dégustation seul 4 €

Tickets are now on sale at:

Office de Tourisme du Saumurois
Place de la Bilange
B.P 241
49418 Saumur Cedex

Attention la manifestation affiche généralement complet 15 jours avant la date.
Contact: 02 41 40 20 60

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bourgueil: Portes Ouvertes this coming weekend


Domaine du Cèdre
Earl Ballif Eric
13 bis, avenue Arthur Le Jouteux
1 06 25 49 23 52
GPS 47.282487/ 0.168611
Du vendredi 29 JUIN au dimanche 01 JUILLET
C10h à 18h
Entre châteaux, vignobles et Loire, le domaine du Cèdre sera heureux de
vous accueillir dans son caveau authentique. Une dégustation de nos vins
d’appellations Bourgueil et Saint Nicolas vous sera proposée, accompagnée de quelques spécialités. Venez découvrir le terroir au travers d’une balade dans les vignes, d’une visite de la cave et du chai commentée par le viticulteur. Sur place, des cartes vous détailleront les modifications du paysage au cours des ères. Des activités ludiques seront proposées pour les enfants.

Domaine le Pont du Gué
Eric Ploquin
19, rue de la Gitonnière - Le Pont du Gué
1 02 47 97 90 82 U
GPS 47.2903562 / 0.190707
Du vendredi 29 JUIN au dimanche 01 JUILLET
C08h30 à 12h30 et 14h à 18h30
Le domaine Le Pont du Gué est une exploitation familiale qui s’étend sur 13
hectares en plein coeur de la Vallée de la Loire sur l’appellation Bourgueil.
Une visite explicative du domaine et une dégustation de nos différents
millésimes vous seront aimablement proposées lors de votre visite.

Domaine de la Closerie
Jean-François Mabileau
28, route de Bourgueil - 37140 RESTIGNÉ
1 02 47 97 36 29
GPS 47.287468 / 0.26732
Samedi 30 JUIN et dimanche 01 JUILLET
C10h à 18h
Découverte et historique de notre patrimoine bâti, ancienne brasserie de
bière ! Visite commentée dans notre chai et nos caves. Dégustations de nos
vins et autres produits du terroir !
Un parking devant le Domaine le long de nos vignes vous est proposé !
«La vigne, le vin sont de grands mystères, venez vite les découvrir !»
A bientôt ! Jean-François et Maëva Mabileau.

St John Hotel: lunch with Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson

St John Restaurant and Hotel with new railings and outside sitting area

Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson outside within their new enclosed terrace seating area 

The lunch had long been arranged but serendipitously it fell on the very day that the railings were finally up after waiting a year and St John at 1 Leicester Street, London WC2 7BL could finally have an outside sitting area. Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson are the co-owners and partners of the St John Hotel and restaurants. 

I had arrived a few minutes before Trevor and had chosen to sit inside as it was quite hot and steamy outside with the now customary 2012 threat of rain. "It's taken a year to get this sorted! The railings are just up today, so if you don't mind we'll sit outside." So the three of us sat outside and celebrated the arrival of the railings and the terrace with a crisp and lemony glass of the St John Champagne from Avize. 

The back label   

Although lunch started around about one and continued until well after four, the threatened rain mainly held off – never more than a few spots at a time and it was warm enough not to matter. 

Conversation ranged widely – the importance of building long-term relationships with a relatively small number of producers who you can properly represent, the new winery project at La Lavinière and the new 2011 Grenache Gris and other wines – blends or single varietals. The recession and opening the St John Hotel on the old Manzi's site, which still comes up on Google maps rather than the new hotel. "The terrace will be a very welcome addition to our capacity," said Fergus, "for as you can see the inside restaurant is quite small."  Trevor added: "The terrace will be open for breakfast – a meal we take seriously here with the cooking done by our chefs not short order personnel." 

We agreed about some natural wines being both expensive and undrinkable. Trevor stressed the importance of resisting the idea of rolling out the St John concept more widely to avoid the danger of dilution. 

Conversation was interrupted from time to time as passing friends hailed Trevor and Fergus.    

 Fergus Henderson 

Trevor Gulliver 

Following the glass of Champagne we looked at Hervé Bizuel's rich and concentrated 2010 Les Sorcieres, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, from his Clos des Fées in the Roussillon. Then a very fine 2009 Givry 1er Cru Les Grands Prétans from Domaine Besson. 

Trevor thinks: "I can't believe it. Another bloody journalist asking about our glasses!"

Well into the Givry I thought it was time to ask about the choice of glassware at St John. Trevor patiently explained the practicalities – the dishwasher, etc. It is also clear that the simple glassware is a part of the unfussy nature of St John. I understand all this but given the obvious commitment and passion that both Fergus and Trevor show in their wine selection it does seem surprising that they don't elect to have a glass that shows shows off their wines' aromas to better effect. But I'm certainly not advocating a phalanx of fragile Riedels!      

2001 Château La Tour Blanche, Sauternes  

We finished our lunch with the 2001 la Tour Blanche – as elegant as the label not a heavyweight but with fine balance and a good match with my excellent Queen of Puddings.  

In time it will be good to learn more about the Minervois venture.  

2012 Tour de France: three days before the off!


Having followed yet another 2012 Euro 0-0 draw in the on the net last evening, I can't wait for the start of the 2012 Tour de France. The race starts in Liège (Belgium) with a prologue on Saturday. Hopefully the 2012 race will live up to the excitement and drama of last year's edition. 

2012 has fewer bigger mountain stages along with fewer mountain top finishes than last year but a lot more individual time trialling kilometres – 101.4 – compared to last year. There will also be no team time trial this year. This will surely favour riders who are good time triallists and who can climb mountains but are not pure climbers. Some of the classic climbs like Alpe d'Huez are not included, although the great Pyrenean classic Pau to Bagnères de Luchon is in after a number of years of absence. This tough stage has the Cols de l'Aubisque, Tourmalet, d'Aspin and the Peyresourde before the final descent straight down to Bagnères-de-Luchon. Robert Millar won has first Tour de France stage win here back in 1983. The next day – the last mountain stage of this year will also be tough with a mountain top finish at Peyragues.

There are some new steep climbs in Alsace and the Jura – La Planches des Belles Filles and Col de la Croix – with gradient up to 17% on the later. Overall there are 25 cols at hors categorie, first or second – the same number as in 2010 and more than 2009 (21) and 2011 (23).  

Cadel Evans, last year's winner, and Bradley Wiggins are many people's favourites. Hopefully both can avoid the crashes that put paid to Evans' race in 2010 and Bradley's last year.

It would be great for the UK to have its first ever Tour winner and certainly Bradley's form has been good this year with victories in the Paris-Nice and, most recently, in the Dauphine-Libre. However, there have been many instances in the past where an impressive winner of the week long Dauphine-Libre has not been able to hold on to that form when it comes to the three weeks of the Tour de France.   

There will be some notable absentees – Alberto Contador, who is banned for doping until August, Andy Schleck who broke his pelvis in 
the Dauphine-Libre, and Thor Hushovd, the popular Norwegian rider who has a virus that forced him out of the Giro d'Italia. if Frank Schleck is to make up for brother Andy's absence he will need to produce some sustained and explosive attacks in the mountains to gain enough of a time cushion for the time trials. 

NBC race 
preview hereofficial Tour de France site and Guardian interactive guide.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

La Nouvelle République pays its dues

Very pleased to receive a cheque today from La Nouvelle République for the use of two of my photos (Vincent Roussely and Pierre Van Den Boom) in their supplement on 2012 Vitiloire. The photos had been used without authorisation or acknowledgment. See hereHowever, full credit to La Nouvelle République for apologising and paying up.   

Vincent Roussely at the RSJ Restaurant, London: 26.6.2012

Exhibition Coco@Jean-Max Manceaux's Domaine de Noiré, Chinon

Exhibition of the paintings of Coco@Domaine de Noiré, Chinon from 15th June to 16th July. The Domaine de Noiré is just to the east of the town of Chinon on the road to Cravant-les-Coteaux.

Jean-Max Manceau@Vitiloire 2012

Forest Hill Pools near completion

The new pool complex incorporating the old facade and part of the old building

The restored and expanded Forest Hill Pools complex on Dartmouth Road will be opening in early July 2012. The old baths – the oldest surviving Victoria pools in London – was closed in 2006 and threatened with demolition. Here is video with narration by Steve Grindlay on the history of these baths. A campaign to save them was successful and the finishing touches to the new complex are now in progress.     

The new block (above and below)

The new complex from the eastern side 

Forest Hill Pools – coming soon

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Dulwich View: null points the view!

dulwich view!! Sydenham/ Forest Hill views more like!

Towards the top of Kirkdale, just before the roundabout with Sydenham Hill, some new three and five bedroom houses are under construction. The development is called dulwich view and will be sold through local estate agents Pedder 'south east london's premier agent'.

'dulwich view to the left' the higher Sedley Court to the right (above and below)

One can assume that the development once complete will be 'high specification' as promised but can it properly be called 'dulwich view'? Dulwich lies to the north west of the dulwich view site over the hill. Between 'dulwich view' the top of the hill is Sedley Court, built higher up the hill and which surely obscures any possible view of Dulwich there might be from 'dulwich view'.     

The side of the 'dulwich view' development that faces Sedley Court – 
no windows except for velux in roof
Only a giant with a long periscope could see Dulwich from here!

I suppose you could argue what's in a name, except that these new homes are priced at from £489,950. Would the price be as high if the development was accurately described as either Forest Hill or Sydenham view? Indeed the majority of the front view from the three bedroom house will be of the large tree just feet from the house. 

Does 'dulwich view' match the Trades' Descriptions Act? Might it contravene the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 or fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority? 

I am awaiting a comment from Pedder's two local offices – Forest Hill and Sydenham – on whether any part of Dulwich can be seen from this development.  


8th February 2013
The post originally suggested that Goldstar were the developers of this site. This I understand is not the case and the necessary amendments have been made. They were contracted by the developers to built the houses. They had nothing to do with the naming, sale price and location of this developement. My apologies to Simon White, the managing director, and his company.

I do suggest, however, that Simon White and his company take care in future to ensure that they do the necessary due diligence before linking the company name and its reputation so publicly to a misleading name.  



Wine in restaurants in France: some Loire recommendations

Xavier Fortin: ace wine buyer and sommelier@La Promenade, Le Petit Pressigny, Indre-et-Loire

My weekly post on Les 5 du Vin is now up. It follows on from David Cobbold's Monday post on wine in restaurants in France – citing the good and bad. My post includes a number of recommended Loire restaurants and bar à vins where wine is given its proper place and respect.     

Monday, 25 June 2012

Britain from above

Blackpool's famous tower taken from a plane in the 1920s
Just one of the thousands of aerial views

Today over 16,000 aerial images taken between 1919 and 1953 have been put on line at The photos have been saved and digitalised with the help of English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales.

There are some aerial scenes that have yet to be identified and the site is asking for help from visitors to provide identification. 

'Aerial views of a very different Britain' comment by Simon Jenkins. 

Not surprisingly the site is proving to be very popular today so not all the features appear to be working properly but more than enough fascinating photos to whet the appetite! Shows what a wonderful tool the internet can be!

The Crystal Palace, Upper Norwood, South London 

Fascinating photo of Crystal Palace taken in 1928. The railway and the Crystal Palace High Level Railway Station can be clearly seen just to the north of the Crystal Palace Parade. This line, which ran through Nunhead into Victoria, was opened in 1865 and closed in 1954. Although the tunnel along Sydenham Hill still exists, the station has long been demolished and replaced by residential housing. The railway crossed over the South Circular at Lordship Lane and was immortalised by Camille Pissarro and his painting of a train leaving the station at Lordship Lane headed towards Crystal Palace.    

Some other views of The Crystal Palace here and here.       

Restaurants and wine in France

Poor glass on left, good glass on right

David Cobbold has a good post on Les 5 du Vin about wine in restaurants in France. He gives an example of exemplary wine choice and service but also castigates a large number of establishments for the poor way that they treat wine. 

In tomorrow's post on Les 5 du Vin I will be following this up with some examples of restaurants where wine is valued as well as citing some woeful and slovenly practices that need to be changed. 

Agnès Sorel, Génille – excellent value, food and service

Twenty five years ago in 1987 a group of us bought a place in Epeigné-les-Bois. We chose to celebrate our 25 years in Touraine at the Agnès Sorel in Genillé, an attractive village in the valley of the Indrois. Over the years the Agnès Sorel has changed hands several times. It is now owned and run by Estelle and Nicolas Petit. Nicolas rattles the pots and pans while Estelle looks after the front of house. 

The first menu (Agnès Sorel) with three courses is at 22€ and offers very good value. The subsequent menus are based on the à la carte menu – three couses for 36€ (fish or meat for main), 40€ four courses (inc cheese) and 55€ five courses (fish, meat and cheese).  

There is a short but well chosen list of wines, especially from the Loire. Other regions are less interesting: Burgundy is dominated by Bouchard Père et Fils – good merchant but playing safe here and easier to buy from one supplier.

Over the past year or so we have enjoyed a number of very good meals here. The Agnès Sorel is certainly recommended as I think as a quality restaurant it offers the best value in this part of Touraine. They also have three rooms from 50€.     

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Horniman Gardens (London SE23): remodelled and renewed

The new water garden

Following extensive renovation throughout the Horniman Gardens parts have reopened. I managed a quick visit between heavy showers late this morning.  

Striking red and green leaf (above and below)

 Part of an onion tree (above and below)

 Variegated plant

 Rather imprecise – described as a 'white grape'!