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 July 2012

Patrick Rols' Chenin Blanc from the Averyron

2010 la coccinelle, Vin de pays de l'Aveyron, Patrick Rols 

Back label giving brief details 

Note deposit@the bottom of the bottle 

This 100% Chenin Blanc from Patrick Rols in Conques in the Aveyron, which is amongst the least populated French départment is the first of a small case of samples from Les Caves de Pyrène, which I will be tasting over the next few days. 

Some may be surprised that Chenin Blanc is grown down in the Aveyron. In fact it is the white variety of two small appellations nearby – Entraygues et du Fel and Estaing. Quite why Chenin Blanc ended up as the principal variety of this rather hidden part of France is something I need to research. 

Here is Douglas Wregg's (Cave de Pyrène) bio on Patrick Rols and explanation about his wines:

'Patrick’s domaine is in  the  village  of Conques, in the Aveyron, the undiscovered heart of the South West. The  total vineyard  area  is a piffling 6 hectares. Although vines had  been  established  in  the  Aveyron  region  by  Burgundian  monks  in  the middle  ages,  these  were  subsequently  wiped out by phylloxera and the two world wars. Patrick replanted on a  beautiful site overlooking  the  village on predominantly schist soils. He  farms  organically,  and  also  uses  biodynamics treatments.  His vineyard  received  a  certificate for organic  farming from the  agency Qualité France  in  2009. Patrick  uses  either barriques or  ’foudres’  to  carry out  the  alcoholic  fermentation  of his white wines.'

La cochinelle is the French for ladybird – a very useful insect that eats many unwanted insects. Of course, if you stray weedkiller over your vineyards, you won't have any ladybirds. Indeed you vineyard will have few, if any, insects and no biodiversity. Patrick Rols doesn't use weedkiller at all in his six hectares of vines, so should get plenty of ladybirds and other insects.   

Light golden colour with ripe apple aromas and flavours plus good typical Chenin acidity in the finish. Also there is a touch of sweetness in the finish and some oak. Should not be served too cool. I enjoyed this as an aperitif. It was also a fair match with a very good piece of smoked haddock (bought from Billings in Sydenham High Street) and served with a cream and horseradish sauce.


Patrick Rols la coccinelle, 2010 Vin de pays de l'Aveyron 


Panzoult (AC Chinon) en fête: Sunday 5th August

Dimanche 5 août 2012, venez faire la fête à Panzoult! Du bourg à la cave touristique, gastronomie, brocante et vins seront au rendez-vous!

Le programme:

Dans le bourg et au plan d’eau:

- Vide grenier,

- Expositions,
- Animations,
- Buvette,


Dans la cave des Vignerons de Panzoult:

- 10h-19h dégustation des vins de Chinon et d’ailleurs, exposition artisanale et produits du terroir, animations pour les enfants.

- A 20h30: COQ AU VIN servi dans la cave, repas animé,

- RENDEZ-VOUS à partir de 22h sur l’esplanade de la Cave pour admirer le FEU D’ARTIFICE!!!

Church@Panzoult from Baudry-Dutour

1855: Philippe Castéja pokes Jean-Pierre Meyers with a sharp stick!

Entrance to Château Latour 

(1855 were recently condemned by a court in Bordeaux for failing to deliver 2008 Lafite and Latour to a customer)

 Château Lafite

I'm delighted to see that Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Grands Cru Classées in 1855 has now spoken out against both 1855 and its investors (Jean-Pierre Meyers and Caisse d'épargne) that provide the financial muscle that allows 1855 and its associated companies (Cave Privée and Chateauonline) to continue to fleece its customers. Castéja's comments are from an excellent article in Le JDD published on 30th July 2012. 

"Nous sommes extrêmement gênés…" Président du Conseil des grands crus classés en 1855, Philippe Castéja ne veut pas employer de mots qui fâchent, mais le ressentiment est palpable. "Nous sommes en permanence questionnés par des consommateurs lésés qui ont payé pour acheter nos vins et qui ne sont pas livrés. C’est inadmissible. Et je ne comprends pas comment des gens comme M. Meyers ou la Caisse d’épargne peuvent se rendre complices de ces manoeuvres."

Philippe Castéja is clearly astonished that Jean-Pierre Meyers, a respectable businessman, banker and board director of L'Oréal and Nestlé, is complicit in the 1855 scam. It can hardly be comfortable for Jean-Pierre Meyers to be so publicly and pointedly criticised by one of the pillars of the Bordeaux wine establishment. Equally this is an embarrassment for Caisse d'épargne, who have recently invested in 1855 through Midi Capital, one of their associated companies.          

Monday, 30 July 2012

Vignes Vins et Randos: new rando in Savennières

Vignes Vins et Randos: 1st and 2nd September 

Details of a new walk as part of Vignes Vins et Randos: 1st and 2nd September

'Idée week-end n°1 : l’AOC Savennières à l’honneur !

A visiter en exclusivité : nouveau parcours de cette 9 édition
Maine-et-Loire, Beaulieu-sur-Layon - Samedi 1er septembre  
(1jour / 1nuit en chambre d’hôtes de luxe –  68€ par personne) 
Le Samedi le 1er Septembre Rendez-vous place de la mairie, à Savennières, pour découvrir le nouvel itinéraire de Vignes, Vins et Randos.

La nature sera reine de cette nouvelle randonnée. La prestigieuse coulée de Serrant de ce terroir unique éveillera vos papilles, ainsi que la récente appellation savennières-roche-aux-moines.

Les amoureux de peinture apprécieront à l’arrivée, les toiles datant du XVIIIème siècle dans le magnifique parc du château des Vaults.

Laissez vos 5 sens se libérer au travers des autres randonnées : Coteaux-du-layon, Bonnezeaux, Anjou-villages ou encore Saumur-champigny !

Dégustations gourmandes sur notes musicales sauront réveiller en vous le vrai plaisir des Vins de Loire.

Un grand nombre d’animations égaieront votre week-end ! Sans oublier qu’un kit du randonneur et un verre de dégustation vous seront remis afin que vous puissiez profiter au mieux du terroir.

Alors soif de découvertes ?

Participation : 5€ / personne (sur place) – 3€ pour les pré-inscrits
Pré-inscriptions sur le site ou en composant le n° Azur 0811 11 95 40 (prix d’un appel local)'

Some recent Loires

 Turbulent – Sauvion Préambule (front and back labels)

A quick round up of a few recently drunk Loire bottles. To start with the nicely punning white sparkler from Sauvion – now part of Grands Chais de France. This vin mousseux de qualité comes from Château du Cléray in Vallet in the heart of the Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine appellation. The blend is 45% Folle Blanche (locally called Gros Plant) from vines on 'silico argileux' (clayey sand), 55% Chardonnay on gneiss and 5% Cabernet Franc on limestone. Quite creamy this makes an attractive, easy drinking, fresh apéritif. 

Staying with bubbles we opened a bottle of Triple Zéro Rosé (Jacky Blot) to celebrate Lizzie Armitstead's silver medal. I suppose it really ought to have been the white Triple Zero to celebrate the Silver but the Rosé was already in the fridge, chilled and to hand. Made from 50% Gamay and 50% Grolleau Noir, this hit the spot as usual with its delicate red fruits and crisp acidity. 

2007 Sancerre Rouge, Henry Natter

2007 was not an easy vintage for Loire reds – the wines needed to be made in an easy drinking style while trying to avoid extracting too much tannin. This 2007 Sancerre Rouge (12.5% alc) from Henry Natter in Montigny at the extreme west of the appellation is still drinking very well. Light Pinot Noir colour and a light silky texture it has charming spicy fruit. Probably time to drink it up over the next year or so. 

2011 Le Pied de la Butte, Bourgueil, Jacky Blot Domaine de la Butte 

This deliciously easy drinking Bourgueil is a current favourite – probably not for much longer as the case is rapidly disappearing. Le Pied de la Butte is always Jacky's easy drinking and early bottled Bourgueil. It sees no wood instead matured in stainless steel tanks and bottled in April. Juicy red fruits with some concentration – all the pleasure of drinking a youthful Cabernet Franc!



Sunday, 29 July 2012

Olympian weather and Boris' warning


After a few days of summer weather to lull visitors and, perhaps, Londoners too into a false sense of security today has seen a return to classic 2012 summer weather with some torrential downpours this afternoon. 

The centre obscured by dark clouds

A building storm (above and below)

 Towards the O2

Greyness around the Olympic stadium

Rain-pain encore

What next for Mark Cavendish?

 Hyde Park: the big screen showing the men's Olympic road race yesterday

Has Mark Cavendish reached his limit with Sky? Now that the Olympic men's race is over it may well be decision time for Mark Cavendish. Will he stay with Team Sky or will he be tempted to move away to a team that is dedicated, like HTC Columbia was, to helping Cav to win the sprints. 

Doubtless Mark was happy to be in the Sky this year to help Bradley Wiggins be the first British rider to win The Tour de France. However, will he happy to work again as super-domestique fetching and carrying water bottles for the rest of Team Sky for a second year running? It seems unlikely as surely Cav will want to win as many stages as he can in the Tour and perhaps overhaul Eddy Merckx's record 34 victories, while Sky will want next year to concentrate on either helping Bradley to win for a second time or work for Chris Froome to take Yellow. Also with Sky Mark will have problems winning the Green Jersey again. 

Will Mark Cavendish move from Sky – David Brailsford has acknowledged that Cav could go. If Cav does move I wonder what the chances are of reuniting with Mark Renshaw, his brilliant lead-out man when they were HTC Columbia together. 

It was disappointing that the men's road race didn't come down to a big bunch sprint giving Cav a good chance to win a gold medal. It was, however, always going to be a big task for four riders to control the race. I can understand why other teams wouldn't work to bring the break back – Cav is just too fast for his own good! The Australians had someone in the break and André Griepel seemed to have lost some of his legs in the last week of the Tour. He was quite well back in the last two bunch sprints at Brive and on the Champs Elysées, so probably wasn't confident he could beat Cav on the Mall. Griepel did win the peloton bunch sprint but no real indication what would have happened had there been a full out bunch sprint for the medals. 

Women's Road Race
This was considerably more exciting than the Men's race yesterday. Very fine ride by Lizzie Armitstead to get Silver and also excellent by Emma Pooley. Congratulations to the winner – Marianne Vos.   
PS: Ludicrous security@Hyde Park
Ticketed spectators at the Hyde Park enclosed big screens not allowed to take any food or liquids into area. I was told it was due to security but surely had much more to do with persuading you to buy food and drink from the many stalls inside. Allowed to take in an empty small plastic or metal water bottle (no glass) but not with the top of a plastic bottle! Why? 

Riders on Box Hill shown on the big screen in Hyde Park

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pancho Campo's MW still has legs!

'Primer Master of Wine español'

I was intrigued to receive a copy of marketing blurb from The Wine Academy twinned with Chrand Management about a three day course – Curso de Marketing, y Organización de Eventos para la Industria del Vino. The course will be held in Marbella on the following dates: 16th-18th November 2012 and 22nd-24th February 2013. The blurb was sent out this week to a potentially interested party.   

'Primer Master of Wine español'...... Curiously there is no mention that Francisco 'Pancho' Campo is the first Spanish/Chilean Master of Wine to resign his MW. I assume that the Institute of Masters of Wine* are relaxed that ex-MW Campo is still making use of the qualification he resigned in May 2012 because of a change of direction – as he told the Institute of Masters of Wine: 'in light of his move into more sports and music events and away from wine'. 

*: Siobhan Turner, executive director of The Institute of Masters of Wine'  clarified the Institute's position in early May 2012 in response to a query from Harold Heckle regarding whether a ex-MW could use their previous qualification to 'vie for business'. Her response:  

'It is a matter of fact that someone passed or did not pass the MW exams, and as long as it was clear that the person in question was no longer a member of the Institute, we could not complain.' (6.5.2012)

Does Pancho Campo make it clear above that he is no longer a 'Master of Wine'? I leave you to judge. 

I'm also impressed that Francisco is still claiming, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that he organised Pink Floyd concerts – a master of elasticity!  

Future Economy Barcelona 2012: 'As usual you are totally misinformed'

My post yesterday on the slashing of ticket prices for Future Economy Barcelona produced a swift tweet response from The Wine Academy – the Siamese twin of Chrand (aka Charade) Management. 'As usual you are totally misinformed. The difference between a serious journalist and a blogger.'

Mid-July's prices 'early bird': VIP 950€, Gold 750€, Silver 550€ ex vat

Revised prices end of July: Gold: 290€, VIP: 690€ ex VAT

Since all the information in the post came from Chrand Management and the Future Economy Barcelona 2012 site, I naturally asked 'what detail is inaccurate please?' Rather than answer the question, this produced a rather tetchy response:

'FEB2012 has nothing to do with wine. None of your business.'

Although it is clear that the conference prices have been substantially cut rather than the significant rise previously planned for 1st August, The Wine Academy may be right that FEB2012 now has 'nothing to with wine'. If so, this is another change. Certainly Miguel Torres was previously listed as a speaker: 'Miguel Torres, uno de los bodegueros españoles más respetados, explicará cómo han implementado el uso de energías renovables y el reciclaje de agua, así como a sus grandes inversiones en investigación y desarrollo' (eco-union 10.7.2012)

'The wine industry will be represented by Miguel Torres and Carlos Moro at Future Economy Barcelona 2012.' (22.6.2012)

'Topics to be covered: Sustainable agriculture and the wine industry' 27.7.12

However, neither Miguel Torres nor Carlos Moro are now listed as speakers. I did ask The Wine Academy whether they have dropped out. So far no response... However, it is now clear that Miguel Torres has withdrawn as a speaker – was it something the former Olympian said?  

Topics to be covered: 'Sustainable agriculture and the wine industry' now omitted: 28.7.2012

Agriculture and the wine industry are now (see above) not part of Future Economy Barcelona 2012. For Chrand Management luxury lifestyle would appear now to be more important than sustainable agriculture. 

2012 London Olympics – opening ceremony from a distance

Olympics – lights and Canary Wharf (above and below)

 Fireworks on long delay
 Smoke, London and darkness

Friday, 27 July 2012

Pancho Campo's Future Economy hit by current economic reality?

It looks like the grim reality of the current economic climate is impinging on Francisco 'Pancho' Campo's planned Future Economy Barcelona 2012 on 19th-20th October. Al Gore is the headlining act.

When ticket prices were announced in mid-June, the early bird offer ran up to the end of July. The nearly 1700 conference tickets available with split into three categories – Silver, Gold and VIP – and 'early bird' prices ranging from 550€ + vat (Silver) up to 950€ + vat (VIP). Prices would increase substantially from the first of August rising to 1200€ + vat (if I remember correctly) for the VIP. Spanish VAT is currently 18% but will rise by 3% on 1st September to 21%.  

July's prices 'early bird': VIP 950€, Gold 750€, Silver 550€ ex vat

From Facebook thread started by Robert Joseph

I assume that ticket sales were rather sluggish as the conference prices have fallen from their Olympian heights with a new special offer until 15th September. Gold has been renamed Silver and priced at 290€ + vat – down 260€ on the previous price. VIP tickets have also been cut by 260€. 

Future Economy Barcelona 2012 is being organised in collaboration with the Generalitat de Catalunya. Although there is as yet no main sponsor, the Platinum sponsors are Ecoembes (a non-profit waste management organisation), Grupo Matarromera, Torres and Francisco Campo's wine academy. The three media partners are essential marbella magazine, and Revista Rusa en España (for Russian visitors in Spain).      


Thursday, 26 July 2012

1855 – can't pay €2750 or won't pay or trading while insolvent?

Charles Ponzi signing cheques – did he pay by instalments, too? 

Here is another extraordinary chapter in the 1855 saga. In 2009 TF ordered some 2008 Mouton-Rothschild en primeur from 1855 and then later also ordered some other 2009 Bordeaux en primeur. As is their practice 1855 failed to deliver the Mouton-Rothschild, so TF took his case to a Paris court. He was given judgment in his favour with 1855 ordered to pay €2750. TF instructed a bailiff (l'huissier) to collect the debt.

Amazingly the bailiff came back to TF and told him that 1855 was in financial difficulties, so could not pay €2750 and could they pay by instalments?!!

TF has told the bailiff that instalments are not acceptable. The bailiff has undertaken to seize assets to the value of €2750 if the debt isn't paid by the end of this week. 

If 1855 cannot pay the relatively trifling sum of €2750, does this indicate that they are trading while insolvent?

What I wonder does Jean-Pierre Meyers make of this?

Also small wonder that 1855 is no longer a member of La FEVAD

Message from TF (26.7.2012)


I thought that you would be interested in the email exchange below.

I have a judgment and have instructed a huissier who tells me that is unable to settle the €2,750 judgment debt unless it pays by instalments.

It’s beyond a joke.



The email correspondence:  

From: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: 26 July 2012 10:23
To:  TF
Subject: Tr : Réf : Tr : RE: S005350/RG NO 91-11-137/ SA 1855


----- Réacheminé par Francisco RODRIGUES/noc le 26/07/2012 11:25 -----
Emma Martineau/noc
26/07/2012 11:10

Réf : Tr : RE: S005350/RG NO 91-11-137/ SA 1855Lien


Je fais suite à votre courrier.

La société rencontre des difficultés financières, elle ne peut régler la totalité de la dette en une seule fois.

Si à la fin de la semaine je n'ai reçu aucun acompte, je diligente un procès verbal de saisie vente.

Je ne manquerai pas de vous tenir informé.

Mlle MARTINEAU Emmanuelle
Huissiers de Justice Associés
10 avenue de l'Opéra
75001 Paris
Tel: 01 42 60 33 24
Fax: 01 49 27 06 67
Envoyé par : Francisco RODRIGUES/noc
19/07/2012 14:04
Emma Martineau/noc@noc

Tr : RE: S005350/RG NO 91-11-137/ SA 1855

----- Réacheminé par Francisco RODRIGUES/noc le 19/07/2012 14:06 -----
19/07/2012 14:02
SCP Nocquet Salomon Flutre 10 av. de l'Opéra 75001 PARIS

RE: S005350/RG NO 91-11-137/ SA 1855

Cher Monsieur

Ce n'est pas acceptable.

La dette jugement doit être payé en entier en un seul versement.

La société est commercial et possède des actifs qui pourraient être saisis et vendus afin d'effectuer le paiement.



-----Original Message-----
From: SCP Nocquet Salomon Flutre 10 av. de l'Opéra 75001 PARIS []
Sent: 17 July 2012 17:25
To: TF
Subject: DR:S005350/RG NO 91-11-137/ SA 1855

 Le 17/07/2012

 REF. à rappeler :
 S00535  /0 / S
 SA 1855

       EF : RG NO 91-11-137

              Monsieur le Directeur,

              Je fais suite à votre courrier.

              Le commandement de payer aux fins de saisie vente 
a été
              signifié à la société débitrice.

              Cette dernière vient de me soumettre une proposition
              d'échéancier de paiement sans en indiquer les mensualités.

              A réception de la proposition modifiée je ne manquerai pas
              de vous tenir informé.

              Je vous prie de me croire,

              Votre bien dévoué.

Noël Pinguet's last vintage: three 2011 secs from Huet

2011 secs: Le Haut Lieu. Le Mont and Clos du Bourg 

Although these three 2011 sec samples arrived from Domaine Huet (Vouvray) in late June, I have not been in a position to taste them until yesterday. No bad thing as this has given the wines more time to rest after bottling. 2011 will be the last vintage made by Noël Pinguet, who resigned in February having been running the estate and making the wines since 1976.

2011 Le Haut Lieu sec
Mid-lemon and the palest of the three secs as well as having a slightly lowered degree of alcohol – 13% against 13.5% for Le Mont and the Clos du Bourg. Delicate but discreet floral and lemony aromas, citric palate with some weight and length but lacking complexity. This is particularly noticeable going back to it after tasting the other two – 2011 Le Haut Lieu lacks that extra dimension. It is often the case that the other two vineyards, right on the premier côte, have greater depth and complexity.

2011 Clos du Bourg sec
Slightly deeper in colour than Le Haut Lieu, the Clos du Bourg is noticeable more generous and textured on the palate with citric as well as slight mousseron aromas. The quite richly textured fruit is well balanced by crystalline acidity and has length and complexity. Can be drunk with pleasure now but will gain additional complexity with more time in bottle. 

2011 Le Mont sec 
Similar colour to the Clos du Bourg with a touch of exotic fruit aromas – none of these secs are very expressive aromatically at present. Good fruit texture and again well-balanced with quite marked acidity.   

Of the three I have a slight preference for the Clos du Bourg over Le Mont but this may well change with time!