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

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Peter May: A Treatise on Viticulture by A I Perold

A new edition is now available

A new edition of A Treatise on Viticulture has now been made available by Peter May as he explains:  

'A Treatise on Viticulture by A I Perold was published in 1927 but was never reprinted as a result of the printing plates being destroyed in war time bombing and the death of the author. Used copies sell for vast sums. The book is now out of copyright and I have spent a year transcribing the book to create a new edition.

'A I Perold (1880-1941) was South Africa's first Professor of Viticulture and Oenology. He dedicated himself to improving the quality of grapes for wine, brandy and the table. He studied wine and brandy production in Europe, imported more than 60 varieties to the Cape and bred new ones. Perold said this book “is intended to serve both the student and the practical grape-grower. There are in it technical passages that will appeal more to the student, e.g. the chapters dealing with the biology of the vine, its external and internal morphology, the theory of grafting. My remarks on the practice of viticulture, such as those dealing with the propagation, manuring and pruning of the vine, the production of table grapes for export, will, it is hoped, assist the practical grape-grower as well as the student.” This is a newly typeset reprint, not a photocopy. Text has been aligned to match the original pagination so any external references to pages in the Treatise will be valid in this edition.

'Available in both paperback at £25 and hardback at £35 from Amazon or with 10% discount plus free postage direct from me –'

A Treatise on Viticulture by A I Perold, 712 pages B&W

Paperback: ISBN 978-0956152329

Hardback: ISBN 978-0956152336

Published by Inform and Enlighten Ltd, 2012'

Peter May relaxing on a beach@South Island, New Zealand: November 2007

New Zealand: a few photos from the 2007 archive

 A glass with a view, Waiheke Island, New Zealand 

Five years ago next month the Circle of Wine Writers ran a very successful and extremely memorable trip to New Zealand looking at vineyards from Auckland down to Central Otago. The trip was generously organised by the New Zealand Winegrowers. Here are a few photos from the archive of that trip. I expect more will follow    

Man O'War Vineyards, Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island: great visitas 

Jouko Mykkänen (Finland) risking all for the art of the photo!

 Waiheke Island with Auckland in the distance (above and below)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

London 30.10.12: late pm light

Setting sun on building beside the Gherkin (above and below)

Light across the city 

Dawson Heights and the Shard

The Strada Building@The Elephant & Castle + Dawson Heights flats

Honor Oak before Canary Wharf 

 Horniman Museum including the conservatory

Looking southwards over the chimney pots and Penge

Young Wine Writer of the Year 2012

Yesterday I finished judging the 33 entries for this year's Young Wine Writer of the Year Award. 33 is a record number for the award now in its 12th year.

I was impressed by the overall standard of the entries and choosing a shortlist of eight candidates was a hard task as there were some very fine pieces of writing from writers of natural talent. The best were those who wrote concisely and amde you want to read on. There is always a temptation to try too hard and some of the entrants fell into this trap. But it is encouraging that there is a pool of talent coming through

And the winner is....? I don't know yet. I have sent my list of suggestions in. We will have to see how far they accord with the views of the other judges: 

Circle of Wine Writers: Stuart Walton (chair of CWW0, Charles Metcalfe and Oz Clarke. 

Anova Books (publishers of Oz Clarke): Polly Powell (CEO) and Fiona Holman (editorial director).

Wine Australia.

The winner and the runners up will be announced on the evening of Monday 19th November at Australia House.

The Young Wine Writer Award has been sponsored since 2007 by Pavilion Books – the publishers of Oz Clarke and Michael Broadbent, in association with The Circle of Wine Writers and Wine Australia. The aim of the award is to help develop promising young wine writers.

 Barley Blyton: 2011 Young Wine Writer of the Year


Monday, 29 October 2012

2012 Loire Vintage: report from Charles and Philippa Sydney

 Bunch of Chenin Blanc in Anjou: 9th October 2012

Early October 2012 was fantastic for mushrooms – for grapes?

Report on 2nd half of the Loire 2012 harvest from Charles and Philippa Sydney, wine courtiers based in Chinon. Given the arrival of rot in the vineyards in early October, the report on the Chenin Blancs while encouraging may be a bit optimistic.  

'A quick follow-on to Philippa's and my early Loire vintage report  
The 2012 harvest is pretty well over, with just a few parcelles of chenin hanging out in the Layon, waiting for the weather to go cold, sunny and windy (the forecast is good), in which case we may get some stickies this year after all. Keep praying!
Otherwise :
Dry whites - sauvignon & Muscadet : as per, quality is good to fantastic in Muscadet, Touraine, Sancerre & Pouilly Fumé, with the Muscadets promising to be among the best ever. Quantities are way down in Muscadet and Touraine but look fine in Sancerre & Pouilly.
Muscadet's yields are a problem and compounded by the appellation going from 13000 hectares to under 8000 as growers have ripped up or abandoned 40% of the vineyards since the 2008 frosts as bulk prices have been way below production costs. Luckily the serious single estates have survived so far. Hopefully you'll be able to use the quality of the vintage to really put across to the consumer just how attractive this appellation can be.
Reds - cabernet franc : starting 2 weeks later than average (and a month later than last year) was always going to be a gamble, so the rain end September that helped ripen the sauvignons were less of a blessing here, especially as the last couple of weeks have seen about 5 inches of rain. That said, there's been hardly any rot until this week (picking is now effectively over) so although there's obviously been some concentration lost as growers waited for ripeness, this should be a pretty and easy-drinking vintage for the cab francs.
Reds - pinots : Our guys in Sancerre and over in St Pourçain are pretty ecstatic about quality, with lovely ripeness - and the concentration that comes with low yields. With 35 hectos/hectare, winemaker Sylvain Miniot in St Pourçain reckons they lost more through the grapes being roasted by the sun and drought than they did through hail or frost.

 9th October clear signs of rot in the Chenin Blanc in Anjou 

Chenin Blanc - Vouvray, Montlouis & the Anjou : First things first : there won't be any great moelleux this year - but growers have stocks of the truly great 2010 and 2011 vintages, so that's not a problem.
For dry and off-dry chenins, things are looking surprisingly good, though again, yields are down. In Vouvray and Montlouis the juice is tasting fresh, clean and nicely aromatic. Less concentration than 2009 and 2010 especially, but this should make for a pretty, consumer-friendly vintage - and growers like Jacky Blot, who really did a serious 'tri' at harvest should make some super 'secs'..
Meanwhile, the hand-picked chenins of the Anjou are promising to be really lovely, with some real ripeness and concentration.
The proof of the pudding is of course in the eating, and we're about to start tasting with our growers all along the Loire. We expect to send you a 'real' vintage report early in the New Year.'

Sunday, 28 October 2012

John Radford dies: born 1st December 1946 - died 19th October 2012

John Radford judging@The 2012 Decanter World Wine Awards

Very sad to learn this morning that John died recently of heart failure aged 65. (I believe he died on 19th October and there was a quiet family funeral.)

A great and generous character, a fine wine writer – amongst the very best. Spain had the good fortune to have his love and attention – a wonderful and very professional ambassador for Spanish wines. How very distant from the tawdry goings on in parts of Spain exposed at the end of last year. 

John had been in declining health for a number of years but this did not quench his enthusiasm. Unfortunately he was involved, through no fault of his, in a very serious car accident involving a lorry at the end of the 1990s and this may have been a contributory factor.

The October edition of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers, will be published next Wednesday and will feature appreciations and tributes to John. If anyone would like to contribute memories of John, please email them to me by Tuesday morning to

Will certainly be raising this evening a copita or so of Sherry to his memory.  

John presenting Alejandro Fernández with bottle of Bollinger 
 @Circle of Wine Writers tasting of the wines of Pesquera in 2008

John Radford: The New Spain 

Miguel Torres on the publication of John Radford's The New Spain in 1998:

‘This image of Spanish winemaking, the modern reality, is what the reader will find in the pages of The New Spain. For many years, John Radford has had a special interest in Spanish wines, as evidenced by his work in all the major English-language wine magazines in Europe, as well as his television and radio career. No one but John, a genuine Hispanophile and an enthusiast for every Spanish region, could have written this comprehensive, contemporary, complex but very enjoyable review of the wines of Spain.’    


John's entry in Wikipedia (although it neglects to include John's various appearances in Christmas panto):

John Radford is a writer and broadcaster in the field of wine and food, with an emphasis on Spain. Radford was born in Nottingham on 1 December 1946 and was educated at Stamford School in Lincolnshire.

After a background in the food and drink industry and retail, Radford's writing career started with children's comics, principally for the Dundee publishing house of D.C. Thomson, with Judy comic for girls, for which he wrote a good deal of the annuals from 1978 to 1985 as well as the weekly paper. He also wrote for the same publisher's science fiction series Starblazer, and contributed to other publications, including a series of stories about Dixon Hawke the Dover Street Detective for the Dundee Sporting Post.

He began lecturing about wine whilst in the wine trade, from 1975, and started writing about wine from 1977. His first regular column was in 1981 in the Coventry Evening Telegraph and this was subsequently syndicated to local dailies around the UK. He also contributed wine articles to Decanter Magazine from 1985, as well as writing general features for regional and county glossies and business magazines.

As a result of his perceived interest in Spain, he was commissioned by ICEX, the Spanish Embassy Commercial Office in London, to write the trade/press textbook for Spanish wines The Spanish Wine Education Notes, which appeared bi-annually from 1989 to 2001, after which ICEX took it in-house and it went online.

In 1997 he was commissioned by the publisher Mitchell Beazley to write a new and definitive consumer guide to Spanish wines - The New Spain. Since then his books have a won a number of international awards. The New Spain (1998) won the Glenfiddich "Drinks Book of the year" and the Prix de Champagne Lanson "European Wine Book of the year" awards, as well as 'Best European Wine Book' at the Livre Gourmand Awards in Versailles, and was awarded the silver medal of the Gastronomische Akademie Deutschland. His 2004 book The Wines of Rioja also won the Livre Gourmand award for "Best European Wine Book". In 2006 he was awarded the Premio Especial Alimentos de España in Madrid for his continuing work on Spanish food and wine, and he is a member of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino. His most recent book Cook España, Drink España, written in collaboration with chef Mario Sandoval of Restaurante Coque in Humanes de Madrid was published in October 2007. In November it won the Livre Gourmand Award 2008 for 'Best European Wine Book Outside France'. In December 2007 it was shortlisted in the top three for 'Best Wine Book in the World (outside France)', and went on to win the world title at Olympia, London on 13 April 2008.

Radford writes articles for a number of UK wine publications, including Harpers, Drinks International and Off-Licence News (all trade publications) and Gourmetour, Decanter, Wine Press (Beijing) as well as other consumer publications.

In March 2007, the first issue of Yes Chef! magazine was published, with a launch at Harvey Nichols in London, and Radford as editor. The magazine was quarterly and aimed at kitchen and restaurant professionals as well as interested amateur cooks. In 2011 it was relaunched as the bi-monthy Chef magazine, with Radford as Consultant Editor. In addition he continues to write mostly wine-related articles for magazines in the UK and abroad.

Radford has appeared on several wine-related British television shows including A Question of Taste which ran from 1997 to 1998 on Carlton Food Network, hosted by Russell Grant.

From 1993 to 1997 Radford co-presented the breakfast programme for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire with BBC Three Counties Radio[3] based in Luton. In 1997 he transferred to BBC Southern Counties Radio based in Brighton where he stayed until March 2006.

From April 2006 until August 2009 he worked as a local radio presenter for Splash FM in Worthing.

Selected bibliography
  • 2011 RIOJA REVISITED (e-book updating THE WINES OF RIOJA)
  • 2011 THE WINES OF RIOJA (republished as an e-book)
  • 2010 THE ULTIMATE WINE COMPANION (Sterling Epicure, New York - Spanish chapter)
  • 2009 COMPANION GUIDE TO THE WINES OF THE WORLD (New edition - Spanish chapter)
  • 2009 COOK ESPAÑA, DRINK ESPAÑA (American edition)
  • 2008 WINE REPORT 2009 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2007 WINE REPORT 2008 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2007 COMER EN ESPAÑA, BEBER EN ESPAÑA (Spanish language version)
  • 2007 COOK ESPAÑA, DRINK ESPAÑA (with Mario Sandoval)
  • 2007 GREAT WINE TOURS OF THE WORLD (New edition - Spanish chapters)
  • 2006 WINE REPORT 2007 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2005 WINE REPORT 2006 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2004 VINOS DE ESPAÑA - Spanish Translation of THE NEW SPAIN (New Edition)
  • 2004 THE NEW SPAIN (New Edition)
  • 2004 WINE REPORT 2005 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2003 WINE REPORT 2004 (Spanish chapter)
  • 2002 DE WIJNEN VAN SPANJE - Dutch translation of THE NEW SPAIN
  • 2002 GREAT WINE TOURS OF THE WORLD (Spanish chapters)
  • 2001 A CENTURY OF WINE (Spanish chapter)
  • 2000 GLOBAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WINE (Spanish and Portuguese chapters)
  • 2000 A CENTURY OF WINE (Mitchell Beazley, London - Spanish chapter)
  • 2000 POCKET BOOK OF FORTIFIED AND SWEET WINES (with Stephen Brook - fortified wines)
  • 1999 WEINLANDSCHAFT SPANIEN - German translation of THE NEW SPAIN
  • 1998 THE NEW SPAIN

  • 2008 Best Wine Book in the world, Livre Gourmand Awards (London)
  • 2007 Best European Wine Book, Livre Gourmand Awards (France)
  • 2005 Premio Especial Alimentos de España (Spain)
  • 2005 Best European Wine Book, Livre Gourmand Awards (France)
  • 2000 Silver medal, Gastrononmische Akademie Deutschlands (Germany)
  • 1999 Best European Wine Book, Livre Gourmand Awards (France)
  • 1999 Prix de Champagne Lanson, Best European wine book (UK)
  • 1999 Glenfiddich Award, Best European wine book (UK)
  • 1996 Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, elected to membership (Spain)

From Wikipedia here:

See also a tribute to John by Gabriella Opaz here on Catavino.

April 2010: John@Enoteca Turi, Putney, London during DWWA regional chairs' lunch


Saturday, 27 October 2012

1000 producers in Paris: 22nd-26th November

Le Vignoble Français à Paris Porte de Versailles

Du 22 au 26 novembre 2012

22/23/24/25 de 10h à 20h le 26 de 10h à 18h

Pavillon 7/1 Paris Expo

La plus grande cave du monde !

Á votre prochain dîner, vous pourrez dire à vos invités « Je connais le producteur » !

La cuisine comme un jeu de société ! À la maison comme à la télé, qui va faire le « parfait dîner ? »

Comment réussir un repas avec le vin qui va lʼagrémenter ?

Pour bien choisir, Il suffit de venir faire un tour au salon pour sʼinitier, comprendre, goûter, discuter…

Ne jamais oublier que la découverte est au bout dʼune allée…
La présence indispensable du vigneron. Le vigneron présent sur le stand vous accueille comme à la propriété. Il vous fait partager son savoir et lʼamour de son métier. Qui peut être meilleur ambassadeur du vin que le vigneron ?

Chaque année, il remet son titre en jeu, prêt à partager avec le visiteur ses impressions et pourquoi pas ses critiques !

995 Vignerons / 11 régions / des centaines dʼappellations.
79 producteurs en Alsace, 202 Bordelais, 170 Bourgogne, 29 Champagne, 21 Cognac-Charentes, 121 Languedoc-Roussillon, 125 Loire Vendée, 35 Provence Corse, 23 Savoie Jura, 90 Sud Ouest Armagnac, 100 Vallée du Rhône.

• Séances gratuites dʼinitiation à la dégustation

• Confort parfait pour le visiteur :

Fini de porter ses caisses de vin. Il existe maintenant un service gratuit de prêt de chariots et un service de livraison à domicile

• Préparez votre visite à lʼavance :

Un verre de dégustation gravé est offert à lʼentrée à chaque visiteur. Prix dʼentrée : 6€ -