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

Friday, 31 May 2013

2013 RAW stats

 Part of the RAW Fair

Attendance figures for the RAW Wine Fair: 19th-20th May

'For those of you who are interested in figures, here’s a breakdown:
Like last year, we had over 3000 visits to RAW over the two days, including…

A couple of hundred growers and their vineyard representatives showing the wines of 169 vineyards, as well as a cider producer, an importer of proper sake, a London brewery and a natural tea tasting bar;

923 visits by consumers/wine amateurs/drinkers;

1996 visits by trade individuals, including sommeliers, restaurant owners, wine buyers, importers, etc, some of whom came from far afield;

153 press visitors from around the world.

The above included people from all over the world – including a large contingent of Scandinavians, Americans and Canadians! Thank you for taking the time to cover over and visit. We really appreciate it.'

Figures for the Real Wine Fair in March were: 1500 visitors and 110 wine growers. Add the two together and there were between 4500-5000 visitors to these two natural wine fairs. 

RAW 2014: 18th and 19th May


Domaine Sauvète (Touraine): Strolls in the vineyard (Saturday); Randonnée Gourmande (Sunday)

Samedi 1er juin : Flâneries au Domaine Sauvète
Une visite de notre vignoble où nous vous accompagnons pour vous conter les légendes locales, l’histoire de la région et de notre famille et pour vous chuchoter quelques secrets…
Départ à 14h30. Durée approx. : 1h30. Tarif : 8 € – gratuit enfants (jusqu’à 12 ans).

Dimanche 2 juin
Randonnée gourmande. Organisée par le Domaine Sauvète, dimanche 2 juin, au cœur de son vignoble, avec dégustation. Départ à 8h30 au 9, chemin de la Bocagerie. Tarif: 15€ sur réservation obligatoire au

Jérôme and Dominique Sauvète 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

4th Salon des Vins d’Ici @Bourgueil Sunday/dimanche 2nd June

Great opportunity to taste lots of interesting Loire wines plus, if previous experience is any guide, a few off-the-wall examples. 

4th Salon des Vins d’Ici @Bourgueil Sunday 2nd June: centre of Bourgueil – Place des Halles and the Maison des Vins. 10h-18h.

Loire producers present:

Jean-Marie Amirault  
Pierre Borel 
Catherine and Pierre Breton 
Château de Minière 
Xavier Courant 
Domaine de Bel-Air 
Domaine de la Chevalière 
Delaunay Père et Fils 
Domaine des Ouches 
Bertrand Galbrun 
Domaine Georget 
Laurent Herlin 
Nau Frères 
Jean-Marc et Thomas Pichet

Cyril et Fabien Boisard 
Clos des Quarterons 
Sébastien David 
Frédéric Mabileau 
Gérard Vallée

Bernard et Mathieu Baudry
Clos des Capucins 
Nicolas Grosbois 
Pascal Lambert
Alain et Jérôme Lenoir

Gérard Marula

Stéphane Mureau

Jean-Christophe Pelletier

Wilfred Rousse

Marc Plouzeau

Frédéric Sigonneau

Coralie et Damien Delecheneau

Domaine les Loges de la Folie

Lise et Bertrand Jousset

Frantz Saumon

Xavier Weisskoft

Sébastien Brunet

Vincent Carême

François Pinon

Château de la Cour Berruyer

Marie Thibault-Cabrit

François Plouzeau

Les Vins du Coin, Vignerons du 41
Bruno Allion

Domaine de Montcy

Domaine de Montrieux

Grégory Leclerc

Les Capriades

Vincent Roussely

Cyrille Sevin

Pascal Simonutti

Brendan Tracey

Hervé Villemade

Les Angevins, Vignerons du 49
Sébastien Bobinet

Didier Chaffardon

Clos Cristal

Benoît Courault

Sébastien Dervieux

Domaine des Sablonnettes

Domaine Juchpie

Jean-Christophe Garnier

Richard Leroy

Agnès et René Mosse


Bruno Rochard

Antoine Sanzay

Jérôme Saurigny

Les Halles@Bourgueil

 Maison des Vins@Bourgueil

Cabernet Franc and Johnny Depp by Dave March CWM

 2010 Cabernet Franc@Mi-Pente, Bourgueil, Domaine de la Butte 
(also below)

Interesting article by Dave March on Cabernet Franc with a South African perspective. One small misconception, Côt (Malbec) tends not just to be added in difficult years. In AC Touraine there are specific cuvées blending Cabernet Franc and Côt that are made every year – examples include Cuvée Pif (Clos Roche Blanche), Le Clos Mabille (Domaine de la Grange) and the red from Château de la Roche en Loire. Côt cannot be added to Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil etc. Blending Côt with Cabernet Franc is a much more successful blend than when Gamay is also included.    

'Members of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters were treated to a very special tasting of Cabernet Franc recently, and discovered the split personality of the grape.

The event was organised and presented by Lizette Tolken CWM, who is passionate about the variety and who was keen to show what it could do in the right hands. Enter the host of the evening, winemaker Bruwer Raats, perhaps SA’s leading producer of Cabernet Sauvignon’s misunderstood daddy (DNA has shown Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc to be the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon).

The mention of Cabernet Sauvignon is pertinent. Lizette opened the evening with her belief that, ‘Cabernet Sauvignon is Cabernet Franc’s biggest drawback’.  The world enjoys Cabernet Sauvignon and is growing accustomed to its styles and flavour profiles. It is undoubtedly a majestic grape and Cabernet Franc might appear close enough to prepare the average drinker for more of the same.  Perhaps they are disappointed, then, having probably paid more for the Cabernet Franc, that it has a different flavour profile and that it might well seem lighter bodied, leaner, ‘greener’ or just less of a blackcurrant lozenge, certainly less brazen than its offspring. Not as well known for sure; Bruwer remembers how he was pulled aside on a visit to a restaurant stocking his wines and told that on his delivery he had spelt Cabernet Sauvignon wrongly!

‘The key to Cabernet Franc’, says Bruwer, is ‘perfume and Asian spice’. It does not have to be deeply coloured or full bodied or with massive alcohol.  What it does have is clean, precise fruit. Bruwer says, ‘if Cabernet Sauvignon is a Broadsword of flavours, then Cabernet Franc is the Scalpel’. Lizette and Bruwer took this further, and explained Cabernet Franc’s duality consists of being both rich, textured and with strong flavours whilst being refined, often subtle and a touch effeminate – especially in the vineyard.  Jancis Robinson MW says that it is, ‘the feminine side of Cabernet Sauvignon’, and she enjoys its precociousness and flirtatiousness. Lizette believes it is definitely‘in touch with its feminine side’ and showed why this makes the wines so exciting. It was suggested that Cabernet Franc is the Johnny Depp of the wine world.

Certainly, there was perfume on samples from Chinon and Bourgueil from the Loire in France, Cabernet Franc’s ancestral home.  They also showed classic Old World structure and firmish tannins. In the Loire, Malbec (known as Cot) is often added in ‘more challenging’ years to beef the wine up a bit. The final wine of the second flight stood out, and though some were mixed about its qualities, its depth of flavour, complexity and length showed why Château Cheval Blanc 2005 was so highly rated (and priced).

Examples from Hillcrest in Durbanville, Raats, Buitenverwachting, Oldenburg and Hermanuspietersfontein stood up very well against the foreign opposition and were preferred by some tasters.

Excellent SA examples, but not cheap and this is just one of many problems Cabernet Franc poses. It is a nightmare in the vineyard, says Bruwer.  It is light sensitive and buds unevenly and early and vulnerable to nearly every disease going. It is very vigorous and needs a huge amount of vineyard work to contain the canopy. And it will overcrop and produce big berries (not conducive to quality) if allowed.  Not only does green growth need to be contained, but Bruwer stresses the importance of green harvesting; removing young berry bunches in order to concentrate the remaining development. Sometimes you need to drop half the crop to achieve any real quality, Bruwer believes, sometimes giving as little as seven tons per hectare maximum. He explains why this means expensive wine; ‘if it takes 100 hours in the vineyard to make a quality Merlot, it takes 300 hours for the same with Cabernet Franc’.

It is not a variety for everyone, says Bruwer; ‘the people who say that Pinot Noir is difficult only say that because they have never tried to grow Cabernet Franc’.

The pursuit of producing ten years of top quality Cabernet Franc drives Bruwer and he believes he has the vineyard land to do it. His trips to producers around the world has taught him that the structure and content of the soil is crucial. ‘All the best soils showed three things; they had good drainage, they were of low to medium potential and they all had some white in them, whether it was chalk, lime, calcium or granite’. Bruwer’s farm sits on decomposed dolomite granite and similar pockets of like-minded soils can be found around the Cape.

After sampling more luscious, blueberry American oaked versions from Duckhorn in California, which were well received, Bruwer generously offered a ten year vertical of his Raats Family Wines Cabernet Francs. Despite noticeable vintage variations, the wines displayed freshness and structure. Even the 2001 from a cooler vintage was youthful and the fact that only 5 or 6 barrels were made in the wetter 2002 vintage shows Bruwer’s commitment to reducing quantity to achieve quality. My favourite was the 2004, though most preferred the fabulous 2003; sensual and rich. A second block was added to the harvest from 2006 and the mid palate stands out in this wine – unusual for Cabernet Franc – it was layered and textured, silky and elegant. Recent vintages are consistent, firm, with ripe tannins, structure and clean, rich fruit; I loved the intensity of the 2009. This flight proved Cabernet Franc’s aging ability and left everyone convinced that SA’s version is as good as any from elsewhere and that it is time for this Cinderella to go to the Ball. It seems consumers are beginning to realise her beauty; the Raats 2011 Dolomite Cabernet Franc sold out within two months of release.

Price is an issue, though. Paying around R200 or more is a push for a wine that isn’t Cabernet Sauvignon, and interestingly Hermanuspietersfontein is sold as ‘Swartskaap’ rather than the varietal. Bruwer understands this and the Dolomite is priced around the critical R100 mark. Cape Wine Masters were convinced that with this sort of price/quality ratio, the variety has much to offer.'

Source: Reprinted with their kind permission.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Château la Conseillante warns against ChateauOnline (part of 1855 group)

Jean-Michel Laporte, director of La Conseillante (Pomerol) has warned French consumers not to buy Conseillante through ChateauOnline part of the infamous 1855 group. Posting on La Conseillante's Facebook page Laporte warns that the price (52€ a bottle) quoted by ChateauOnline is ridiculously cheap and that the 1855 group has a long and well documented history of failing to supply wines ordered by their customers.

It is good to see a Bordeaux château coming out and warning against buying through ChateauOnline and other companies in the 1855 group. It would be even better to see other Bordeaux châteaux issuing simlar warnings.

Nicolas de Rouyn has covered this on his bonvivant blog here and includes a brief interview with Laporte.

ChâteauOnline's offer of La Conseillante 2012 
'ridiculously low' warns Jean-Michel Laporte  


VitiLoire 2013: photos of some vignerons

Photos of a few of the vignerons present@the 11th edition of VitiLoire in Tours last weekend.

 Guitars on a Bourgueil stand

 Jean-François Mériau (Vignoble des Bois Vaudons, Touraine)

20 hectare estate established in 1860 with one hectare

 Pascal Desroches (Reuilly) – above and below

above and below

Above and below

A kind offer ..... but I'll pass ......

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Art by' Cabernet d'Anjou 2013: ce jeudi le 30 mai@Montmartre, Paris


Art by' Cabernet d'Anjou 2013
Le 30/05/2013

Cette année, Art'By cabernet-d’anjou joue la carte du street-art et vous donne rendez-vous dans le quartier Montmartre à Paris le jeudi 30 mai de 19h à 21h30.

10 bars accueillent 10 vignerons de l’appellation et 10 artistes qui réaliseront des œuvres inspirées du cabernet-d’anjou, avec l’aide du public. A l’aide de l’« Art’Pass », les participants déambuleront entre les différents lieux de dégustation pour découvrir ou redécouvrir la 1ère appellation de rosé tendre de France.

Lieux :

Paris – quartier Montmartre – rue Lepic, rue Durantin, rue des Abesses  (18ème arrondissement)
Liste des bars partenaires :
Le Luxe bar
Les 2 Moulins 
Le Zèbre
Le Burq
Le 16 TYholozé
Le Prohibido
La Bascule
La Part des Anges
Chez Camille,
Le Petit Montmartre


Monday, 27 May 2013

River Cher high@Chisseaux

River Cher near Chisseaux: bridge in distance leads to – Chenonceaux (above and below)

Close to bursting its banka

large volume of water coming down  

High levels looking upstream – another storm awaiting

Despite what a few people say about heavy rain recently and clearly both the Char and La Loire are high at the moment, rainfall for the last two months – April and May has not been way above the norm. Both April and May have seen above average rainfall – Indre et Loire (from Tours readings) has had 74.3mm over the month of May compared to the average of 62.3mm. Similarly 2013 rainfall in April was 68.4 compared to an average of 56.8mm. 

So not a huge rainfall but sufficent to lead to saturated land, especially as much of it has been concentrated into a few days in each of the last two months.. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Vitiloire 2013: some photos from yesterday in Tours

Vitiloire banner 

A first batch of photos from Vitiloire 2013 held in Tours close to Le Gare de Tours. Vitiloire continues today and features some 130 Loire producers. In marked contrast to last year, which was held during a heatwave with temperatures close to 30˚C, yesterday the temperature had barely reached 10˚C by 11.00 am. It was decidedly chilly until the sun came out around 1.00 only to be replaced within a fairly short time by showers.   

 Large bottle of Crémant/Saumur by L'Hotel de Ville

A few bubbles 

Musicians (above and below)

 Wearing this T-shirt may contravene Le Loi Evin as it obviously attracts female admirers!

 Lunch during a short period of sunshine in a day punctuated by showers – some heavy
(above and below)

 Vitiloire: parking restrictions

More photos to follow mainly of producers.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Vouvray – a tasting of 2011s

Vouvray's Espace du Vin

 The tasting room

Jean-Michel Pieaux, president of the Vouvray producers 

In early April Marie Thomas of the Syndicat des Producteurs de Vouvray kindly arranged a tasting of the 2011 Vouvrays at the appellation's Espace du Vin. The building that houses the Espace previously belonged to M. Musset, who was formerly president of the Vouvray Syndicat des Producteurs.

Before we started the tasting we talked briefly about the 2012 vintage, especially the frost of April 16th/17th when Rochecorbon was more affected than further east in the appellation around Vernou and the valley of the Brenne. Catherine Dhoye-Deruet.

2011 in Vouvray was a rather easier vintage than 2010 when rained arrive at the wrong time in late September/early October provoking rot and forcing the vignerons to pick very quickly.  

In the tasting there were 22 Vouvray secs, eight demi-sec and seven moelleux. The wines were tasted blind.

Coup de Fougue, Florent Cosme in Noizay

2011 sec
Coup de Fougue, Florent Cosme  
Florent is the brother of Matthieu (Domaine de Beaumont) and has only recently set up his domaine in Noizay. Vibrantly citric, fresh style with good length.

Cuvée de Silex, Domaine des Aubuisières, Bernard Fouquet
Attractive weight, texture and complexity with a touch of sweetness and then a typical hint of bitterness in the finish that is so characteristic of Chenin Blanc.

Francis Mabille
Lean, austere style with very clean flavours - just a touch of sweetness mid-palate. Will be interesting to see how it ages.

Also showed well:
Domaine de Beaumont, Matthieu Cosme
Jean Michel Gautier
Clos de Nouys
Le Peu Morier, Domaine Vincent Carême
Denis Breussin
Vignoble Brisebarre
Domaine de la Fontainerie, Catherine Droye-Deruet
Le Clos de la Meslerie, Peter Hahn

 Les Jours Heureux, Alain Robert


Les Jours Heureux, Alain Robert
Clean, citric aromas, quite complex although will benefit from further time in bottle for all the elements to come together harmoniously.

Cuvée Marcus, Clos de l'Epinay, Luc Dumange
Cuvée Marcus, Clos de l'Epinay, Luc Dumange
Good concentration and texture, quite a taut, austere style for a demi-sec  but with good length and should age well.  

Also showed well
Domaine de la Rouletiere, Jean-Marc Gilet


Cuvée Lubin Grand Liquoreux, La Croix des Vainqueurs, Laurent Bonneau
Discreet aromas but rich, concentrated fruit on palate, complex flavours – honey and rich dried apricot, barley sugar and baked apple.

Also showed well
Les Perruches, Domaine de la Poultiere
Cuvee Beauclair, Christian Blot
Souvenirs d'Automme, Caves Cathelineau, Jean-Charles and Frédéric Cathelineau