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

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Two items of French motoring news: speed radar warnings and further delay on alcohol testers fines

Heavy traffic on the A28 autoroute 

The French Interior Ministry has recently decided to re-introduce the roadside panels warning motorists of fixed speed radar cameras. The Ministry has also delayed implementing fines (11€) for motorists who are not carrying the obligatory alcohol test kits. Under French law carrying at least two kits or an approved testing machine became obligatory from the beginning of July 2012 with fines to be imposed from the 1st November 2012. Fines were then pushed back to 1st March 2013 but have now be delayed with no starting date announced. 

'À la suite des recommandations du Conseil national de la sécurité routière (CNSR), le ministre de l’intérieur a décidé jeudi 21 février 2013 :

• de rétablir les panneaux signalant les radars fixes,

• de ne pas imposer la possession obligoire d’éthylotest dans les véhicules.

Le rétablissement des panneaux signalant les radars fixes doit se mettre en place progressivement sur 2 ou 3 ans. Conformément à la décision du Comité interministériel de la sécurité routière (CISR) du 11 mai 2011, les panneaux indiquant la présence de radars fixes avaient en effet été retirés (décret publié au Journal officiel du 19 mai 2011).

Despite the non-imposition of fines, drivers should still carry the required alcohol test kits. Drink driving laws (0.05% max – 50mg of alcohol per 100mls of blood) are strictly enforced as are those on excess speeding. Drivers, who are considerably over drink  or speeding limits, risk having their licences taken away on the spot. 

Although the legal limit in the UK is 0.08%, this level and above is viewed in France as an aggravated offence and can attract a license suspension for three years, 4500€ fine and up to two years in prison.  

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

2013 Salon des Vins de Loire: Jean Teissèdre, Domaine des Bérioles, Saint-Pourçain

Jean Teissèdre, Domaine des Bérioles, Saint-Pourçain

While tasting some attractive 2012 wines from the Côte Roannaise with Carine and Stéphane Sérol (Domaine Robert Sérol), they urged me to taste the wines of Jean Teissèdre, who was sharing the stand with them. As I invariably do as I'm told, I went and tasted Jean's wines and am I glad that I did for this was a welcome new discovery.

Jean Teissèdre took over the running of the eight hectare Domaine des Bérioles in 2011. Prior to this he had gained experience in Pouilly-Fuissé as well as Mâcon plus a time in 2010 with the excellent François Crochet in Sancerre. The eight hectares are two thirds white and one third red. The whites are Chardonnay and Tressalier, which is Saint-Pourcain's local special grape, while Gamay and Pinot Noir make up the reds. Most of the vines are on clay and limestone, while the Pinot Noir is on granite. 

Of the five wines I tasted I particularly liked the 2012 Trésaille, which 90% Trésailler and 10% Chardonnay. It would be good to taste this once it is in bottle. I also enjoyed the 2011 L'intrepide made from 100% Pinot Noir and aged in barrique. This had sweet ripe fruit, nice concentration, some spice. It needs more time in bottle but there is certainly potential there and worked better than the 2011 Auvernat, which is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Gamay – easy drinking but a bit cloying. 2012 Les Grands Brières was the other red I tried. This soft, fruity red is 90% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir with a touch of spice in the finish.  

I look forward to tasting Jean's wines again in the future. 

2012 Trésaille, Saint-Pourçain, Domaine des Berioles
Good modern but classic label

Jean Teissèdre, Domaine des Bérioles

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Umbria – out and about photos

 De rigueur wear for the Castello di Magione (above and below)

Some more photos from our visit to the Umbrian countryside:

 Castello di Magione

 Umbrian landscape with snow

 Cantina Peppucci

Underfed and possibly fractious wine lover!
Castello di Magione

Fabien Lainé and Umbrian countryside

 Filippo Peppucci

2007 Alter Ego, Cantina Peppucci

London restaurants, pubs, bars, retailers participating in the Real Wine Month promotion

Green Man & French Horn, St Martin's Lane

The Real Wine Promotion takes place in March across the UK in around 150 restaurants, bars, gastropubs, retailers and wholesalers.

Organic, biodynamic and natural low intervention wines will be listed by the glass or visibly promoted to a potential audience of thousands of consumers in order to highlight the quality of well-crafted, artisan products.

Please find listed below are the current participants in the London area – details from Doug Wregg:

The Hampshire Hog, Hammersmith
The Hampshire Hog is a beacon in Hammersmith, a comfortable pub serving wholesome seasonal, responsibly-sourced food and has a very good wine list featuring small biodynamic producers.

The Good Wine Shop, Chiswick & Kew
An independent wine merchant with two shops, one in Chiswick, the other in Kew. No brands, no pretention, friendly knowledgeable staff and a great selection of value-for-money wines.

Osteria dell Arancio, Kings Road, Chelsea
Osteria is a homage to the same philosophy of hospitality and simple good food, offering a choice of seasonal and authentic dishes, with an outstanding wine list and the chance to taste some really fine wines by the glass.

Red Squirrel Wine, Richmond, Surrey
Brilliantly and imaginatively marketed wine boxes from this new wine company. Lots of discoveries (wines from Slovenia, Uruguay) and fun labels, majoring on the artisan and the organic, this is sourcing par excellence.

Kensington Wine Rooms, Notting Hill
Fulham Wine Rooms, Fulham
Two wine bar/shops serving Modern British food. Well sourced small selection of wines with around 40 by the glass. From small boutique winemakers to great classics these are great venues to go to sup and sample.

The Henry Root, Park Walk, Chelsea
The inspiration owes much to  “William Donaldson is none other than we share the street in which he lived and from which the Henry Root Letters were sent, obviously we thought his life was worth celebrating, a life that epitomised Chelsea, the swinging 60’s and the humour that the English are renown.” The menu changes daily with the markets and is focused on the best of the season and always from artisan suppliers and of sustainable sources.

Handford Wines, Old Brompton Road, South Kensington
Handford Wines has a huge selection of well-chosen wines and provides an excellent service for its loyal customers.

L'Art du Fromage, Chelsea
From cheese fondue and Raclette to classic French dishes accompanied by a good glass of rustic wine L'Art du Fromage is a fun, sharing and unpretentious dining experience.

Albertine Wine Bar, Shepherd’s Bush
Cosy, friendly bar that has no pretentions other than to serve a great selection of wines and an equally tasty selection of food including a cracking cheese board, Gromit. Knowledgeable service and a terrific range of wines by the glass adds to the experience and prices are as reasonable as you will find anywhere in London.

Brula, St Margaret’s, Twickenham
Once a Victorian butchers shop and now an institution, much-lauded Brula’s intimate dining room has been transformed with Parisian style and flair. Its beautiful stained glass, dark wood seating, parquet flooring, velvet curtains and large mirrors on every wall inspire a wonderful backdrop to the seasonally changing a la carte and set menus allowing for the very best in British produce and French cooking to be combined. An intelligent wine list of small producers tops off the experience.

The Glasshouse Restaurant, Kew
The award-winning Glasshouse is owned by Nigel Platts-Martyn and Bruce Poole, the partnership behind Chez Bruce and The Glasshouse.  The restaurant goes from strength to strength achieving plaudits for its well-conceived, satisfying menu, friendly expert service and top wine list.

The French Table, Surbiton
The French Table opened in June 2001 and is run by husband and wife team Eric and Sarah Guignard. It was their aim to provide the very best food and service of the highest standard to a local clientele in a warm and relaxed environment. The restaurant is a real treasure showing attention to detail on every level.

Roberson Wine Merchant, Kensington High Street
Terrific award-winning shop and retailer with the most amazing selection of wines from tiny boutique growers to the top fine wines (at very competitive prices). In the last few years there has been a distinct move towards buying natural and biodynamic; the shelves are full of rare gems and discoveries. Roberson will be running the pop-up wine shop at The Real Wine Fair.

Askew Wines, Shepherds Bush Road, Shepherd's Bush, with an emphasis on good value wines and friendly service.

Noble Green Wines, Hampton Hill
Wine store that ticks all the boxes with a wide selection of wines appealing to the novice drinker, the expert and the seeker after more unusual pleasures. Useful web site guides you through the choices, friendly service on the floor. Great selection of beers as well!

The Real Ale Company, Richmond Road, Twickenham
Drinks Retailing Awards National Independent Beer Retailer of the Year 2013 The Real Ale Shop opened its doors in May 2005 and has been supplying a wide range of high quality, but often unknown, real ales, ciders, perries and beers produced by British micro-breweries. They also have over 100 wines available from small producers across the world.

Park Vintners, Wimbledon
Specialist wine shop that opened in Wimbledon Park in 2010 by Alex Roberts and Wayne Blomfield and servicing the needs of the community ever since. They run their own wine courses, hold tastings and other events.

The Lawn Bistro, Wimbledon
The Lawn Bistro opened its doors in September 2011, and since then has gone from strength to strength. It is located at the heart of Wimbledon Village, and has slotted in well amongst the stables, chic boutiques and local pubs. Owned by Akbar Ashurov, The Lawn Bistro has French cuisine as its inspiration, with seasonal menus from acclaimed head chef Ollie Couillaud. His dishes are a good mix of classic and contemporary styles with a wealth of well-sourced ingredients.

Dalla Terra, Covent Garden
Located in the heart of Covent Garden, Dalla Terra is an urbane, contemporary take on the Italian enoteca. The mission here to bring a unique collection of Italian wines to a wider audience in a friendly, inviting atmosphere. Dalla Terra pays homage to the roots of the classic enoteca, as the bar’s name translates literally as “from the earth”.

La Gourmandina, Bloomsbury
Dedicated to French and Italian gastronomy and combining elements of local Mediterranean delicatessen, fine food grocery store and seated tasting areas this little gem opened recently in the foodie enclave of Lamb’s Conduit Street.

Barrica Tapas Bar, Goodge Street
An authentic tapas bar that would not feel out of place if it were on a busy street in Barcelona. Great range of sherries and wines by the glass from small producers, delicious brilliant value small plates ranging from well-sourced charcuterie and inventive combinations.

The Orrery, Marylebone
Orrery is located on the first floor of a converted stable block, overlooking St Marylebone Church gardens in the heart of Marylebone village. As well as a fine dining restaurant there is a terrace, a bar, a café and shop (Orrery Epicerie). Kathrine Larson who oversees the wine list, is one of the leading sommeliers in the UK.

Roganic, Marylebone
Roganic is a two year pop-up restaurant that is passionate about the very best in British natural ingredients, all cooked with skill and imagination and served with warmth and style. The space belies its urban location, bringing you a taste of the country to the heart of Marylebone where mother nature, flavour, balance and seasonality is everything.

The Cinnamon Club, Westminster
Set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library, the restaurant presents constantly evolving menus and a carefully matched wine list - all designed to reflect an ethos of innovation and creativity in one of the most stunning dining rooms in the country. 

Donostia, Seymour Place, Marble Arch
Modern Basque kitchen close to Oxford Street. Speciality is meat, but consistency across an array of tapas dishes is strong. Interesting drinks list.

Bubbledogs & Champagne Bar, Fitzrovia
Gourmet dogs (of the hot variety) matched to fabulous, usually biodynamic growers’ champagnes and sparkling wines.

Kai, Mayfair
Michelin star restaurant serving Chinese food with a twist. Excellent wine list with difficult-to-get-hold-of wines and a well-above average selection of organic and biodynamic numbers.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, Baker Street
Now in its 7th year the Bistrot was the original restaurant to be opened by the Galvin brothers. It was an overnight success with both food critics and customers alike and has won several prestigious awards amongst them Best French Restaurant for 2 years running as well as top awards from the AA and Tatler Magazine.

Hardy's, Marylebone
Super brasserie and wine bar on Dorset Street, just off Baker Street, a relaxed family-run establishment attracting locals and business diners alike. Eclectic wine list that gives pleasure.
The Perserverance, Marylebone
Top-notch nosherie near Marylebone station. Pub on the ground floor, no-frills dining room on the first floor. Wholesome, earthy menu, very well-executed. A great local.

Dego Wine Bar, Great Portland Street
Brainchild of Head Chef/Patron, Massimo Mioli, Degò offers a new and exciting approach to experience Italian food and wine in London. Set in a quiet side street just one minute's walk from Oxford Circus, Mioli's concept of an open-all-day “Degustation Osteria” (Deg-ò) offers a less formal timeframe in which to enjoy the pleasure of both gastronomic osteria-style dishes and a careful selection of fine wines.

Newman Street Tavern, Fitzrovia
Newman Street Tavern serves elegant British food using the best seasonal, specialist and wild produce from around the UK. The kitchen runs very traditionally with meat ageing, butchery and fishmongery skilfully handled on site.  The wine list has a strong natural component with many organic, biodynamic and low intervention producers.

Duck Soup, Dean Street, Soho
Inspired by the small neighbourhood restaurants of France Duck Soup is a small natural wine bar and restaurant based around the simple idea of eating good food and enjoying delicious artisan wines.

Harvey Nichols, London, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol
Fifth Floor, Knightsbridge
Oxo Tower, South Bank
Prism, City of London
We are delighted to announce that Harvey Nichols will be supporting the Real Wine Promotion in eight of their restaurants and shops. In London the flagship store in Knightsbridge, the 5th Floor restaurant and café, Prism in the City and Oxo Tower will be selling an array of organic, biodynamic and natural wines, whilst Leeds, Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester have also signed up.

Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus
Whole Foods, Kensington High Street
Whole Foods have one of the largest selection of organic, biodynamic and natural wines in the UK. The setting is unpretentious and the wines are well priced. The Kensington branch has a small wine bar where you drink by the glass and munch an array of cheeses, smoked meats and snacks.

Terroirs Wine Bar, Covent Garden
A buzzy bar-cum-restaurant serving French-influenced sharing plates on the ground floor with a more classic menu in the basement. Terrific charcuterie, good cheese and a whole host of rustic little and large dishes. The 300 bin wine list majors on natural wines from France, but there is a sizeable chunk from Italy too.

The Green Man & French Horn, St Martin's Lane, Central London
The river runs through this restaurant (as a theme), the river in question being the Loire which informs the no-frills, hearty cooking and the huge natural wine list with its alluring verticals of Chinons and Muscadets.

Mele et Pere, Soho
Mele e Pere, serves the best of authentic Italian cuisine in the heart of Soho. This family-run restaurant uses high quality, fresh ingredients to produce a menu of both classic and modern Trattoria dishes which changes daily. Homemade Vermouth is served along with a list of predominantly Italian wines by the bottle and glass, complementing the menu of rustic, well-sourced and lovingly-prepared dishes perfectly.

Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley
Rated as one of the top fine dining experiences in the UK, a restaurant where the name above the door is truly in residence. Fabulous, beautifully presented food, great service and a very serious wine list.

The Empress of India, Victoria Park
This all-rounder café/bar/restaurant is now in the hands of a small, dedicated team who are on a mission to turn it into a culinary destination, albeit one with a neighbourhood vibe and pricing. The food is comforting, the wine list extremely well chosen.

The City Beverage Company
Independent specialist wine and beverage company located in Shoreditch, London supplying wines, spirits, beer, teas and coffee from all over the globe, focusing on the very best produce each region has to offer. “Our quest to source an eclectic collection has introduced us to passionate local producers in all the major growing areas of the world, as well as some very interesting and lesser known regions.” The result is a comprehensive list of high quality and diverse wines, spirits and beverages whatever the price.

Bistrot Bruno Bruno Loubet, Clerkenwell
In early 2010 the owners of The Zetter Group, Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan, went in to partnership with celebrated chef Bruno Loubet to open a modern French bistrot on the ground floor of The Zetter Hotel. Bistrot Bruno Loubet has enjoyed rave reviews and has quickly become one of London’s most popular restaurants. The wine list is packed with well-sourced gems.

The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
More than a restaurant The Modern Pantry is now one of London’s institutions. Led by Anna Hansen it serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, has a deli and outside catering arms. Food can loosely be termed fusion but is so much more than that, great ingredients lifted by ingenious combinations and clever spicing. Service is lovely and efficient, courtesy of Candi Giacchetti and her team. The wine list is modern, customer-friendly, well-chosen and wittily annotated.

Moro Restaurant, Exmouth Market
Sam and Sam Clark's legendary Spanish & Moorish influenced restaurant in the foodie enclave of Exmouth Market. Sit at the bar and drink sherry with tapas or have simple, well-executed dishes in the always packed, buzzy restaurant. Good drinks list.

Noble Fine Liquor, Broadway Market, Hackney
A brilliant newcomer and already one of the best wine shops specialising in artisan, terroir-driven wines. Excellent selection of biodynamic and natural wines.

Club Gascon, West Smithfield
Cellar Gascon, West Smithfield
Club Gascon is specialised in imaginative cuisine from South-West of France. Since its opening the restaurant has received numerous accolades including one Michelin star (since 2002). We take our food from Gascony very seriously this is why it is monitored by 'Le Comité Renaissance' that has a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of freshness and authenticity. Chef Pascal Aussignac is a true original, creating thrilling imaginative dishes. Cellar Gascon is the wine bar annex, serving small dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.

Season Kitchen, Stroud Green, Finsbury Park
A treasure of a neighbourhood restaurant offering good quality, honestly sourced produce, cooked well without too much fuss alongside a short, well considered drinks list within a warm, welcoming, convivial room.

Galvin La Chapelle, Spitalfields
The third restaurant to be opened by acclaimed chef brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin, La Chapelle has had praise heaped upon it from the very beginning winning no less than 8 top restaurant awards in its first year including AA London Restaurant of the Year and Tatler Magazine Restaurant of the Year. Chef Patron Jeff Galvin provides a menu of modern French classics served with attentive hospitality from a first-class front of house team.

Androuet Cheese Shop and Restaurant, Spitalfields
Affineur, cheese shop, wholesaler and restaurant, Androuet ticks a lot of boxes. Good selection of organic and biodynamic wines matched to a superb selection of well-kept mainly French and British cheeses.

Bottle Apostle, Victoria Park
Bottle Apostle, Crouch End
The first Bottle Apostle in July 2009 with the idea that a wine shop could cater as much to the wine novice as it did to the seasoned tippler. From modest beginnings the shop has gone from strength to strength building up a loyal clientele, allying a good web site to excellent service. The selection of wines is top class.  In 2011 The Telegraph awarded the Bottle Apostle the prize as “Best Small Wine Shop.”

Brawn, Columbia Road, Hackney
Brawn opened a year after sister restaurant Terroirs (q.v.) and has been adept at luring the hipsters of Hackney. A delightful small restaurant with bags of atmosphere, an alluringly democratic menu that invites you to try virtually every dish and a thrillingly unorthodox natural wine list.

259 Hackney Road, Hackney
Small but beautifull formed wine shop (which is surely the epicentre of London's natural wine movement) where the owners source (directly) cracking wines from small French growers.

Caravan, Exmouth Market, Farringdon
Caravan is a restaurant, bar and coffee roastery located on a busy corner site in Farringdon’s Exmouth Market. The restaurant menu showcases seasonal ingredients that draw influences and flavours from all round the world. The wine is equally cosmopolitan, and the coffee, of course, is superb.

Le Pont de la Tour, Shad Thames
Le Pont de la Tour combines traditional yet innovative French cuisine, knowledgeable and friendly staff, thoughtful design that evokes the Parisian chic of the 1930s and glamorous views of the City and Tower Bridge. The wine list is huge and has a wide range of biodynamic growers.

Magdalen Restaurant, London Bridge
South West French food collides with English sensibility on a great menu which is meaty to the core but never heavy. The French influences continue on the wine list which features small growers and a nice number of organic and biodynamic wines.

Zucca Restaurant, Bermondsey
Zucca has been a destination local since 2010. The formula is simple and impeccably executed: modern Italian food based on top-notch ingredients at competitive prices, served by clued-up staff in contemporary surroundings. Big wine list of top names.

Market Row Wines, Brixton
Loveable tiny shop offering around sixty always interesting wines on a list that is constantly changing. Informal, friendly and Bohemian. Strong emphasis on terroir wines and producers who work pretty naturally.

Gergovie Wines, Bermondsey
Fabulous little company working with a small but select group of winemakers eschewing chemical pesticides and fertilizers and equally natural in the winery. Their shop and bar, 40 Maltby Street, is open in the evening on a Wednesday and Thursday, at lunch and dinner on a Friday and lunch on Saturday.

D’Vine Cellars, Clapham
D Vine Cellars believe better wine is produced with passion, understanding and a commitment to ethical winemaking practices. They seek out producers who have passion, prioritise sustainable farming methods, practice ethical winemaking processes and, most importantly, make great wine!

Lambert’s Restaurant, Balham
Lamberts is a modern British seasonal restaurant, offering excellent food and wine in relaxed and friendly surroundings. They are passionate about ethical produce and maintaining the countryside, using local suppliers, many of them small family firms, and endeavour to use only the finest, often organic, seasonal ingredients. The changing menu is complemented by a balanced wine list featuring some exciting bottles at sensible prices.

Further details here on the Real Wine Fair site.