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 November 2013

Laura Semeria's Domaine de Montcy 2011 Rosé – refreshingly delicious

2011 Rosé Domaine de Montcy, Cheverny 

There isn't really a great deal to say about this rosé from Laura Semeria: it is delicious and refreshingly moreish to drink. A rosé – blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay – to be enjoyed rather than analysed. Although now over two years old it shows no sign of being tired as rosé often can be after the first twelve months. 

Unfortunately 2012 and 2013 have not been kind to Laura Semaria as she has been twice hit by April frosts.

Laura Semeria@MillésimeBio 2013 with Fred Niger (Domaine Guy Bossard) 

 Domaine de Montcy on the D102 that heads 
straight to the Château de Cheverny


Bienvenue Joseph Luneau et santé!

 2007 Le L d'Or, Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur lie, 
Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin

 Joseph Luneau

 2007 Le L d'Or, Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine sur lie, 
Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin

Last evening we celebrated the recent arrival of Joseph Luneau (son of Marie and Pierre-Marie Luneau) with an excellent bottle of the 2007 Le L d'Or from Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin. Still wonderfully fresh with no sign that this is now six years old. Attractive citric flavours with some floral notes, delicate texture and good length and a delicious match with the plainly grilled gilthead bream bought from our local fish shop Billings in Sydenham (London SE26).  

Friday, 29 November 2013

A few harvest photos: 2010 and 2012 around Sancerre

View of Château de Tracy from slopes to east of Sancerre (2012)

A few fairly random photos from a short sorting out session: 

 Dessiccated grapes (2012)

 Joseph Mellot winery to east of town of Sancerre (2012)

 Vincent Pinard with his team of pickers

Slopes to south east of Sancerre (2012) 

Early autumn colours@Bué (2010)

New installation near Chavignol but not sure – identification please?

Domaine de Vassal: report on today's meeting + PF Vranken's Green Book

From André Deyrieux's Facebook page his report on today's meeting about saving the collection of 7000 different grape varieties at the Domaine de Vassal:  
 'Salle comble, plus de deux heures de réunion. 
Isolé sur ses positions, JP Géné, manifestement dépassé par les enjeux de l'affaire.

Merci à Michel Issaly (President des vignerons indépendantspour son accueil et son engagement. 

Bravo aux participants qui n'ont pas manqué de clarté ni d'arguments.

Quelques révélations, notamment sur le fait que l'INRA ne paye pas ses loyers depuis un an, et sur la proposition de PF Vranken d'examiner l'avenir autour d'une table.

Le plus important est la demande de fond : maintenir le conservatoire à Vassal, et en tout cas ne pas accepter le déménagement sur un site inadéquat et sans les conditions d'une réussite totale.

La pétition est bien sûr toujours en ligne :

Nous avons dépassé les 3800 signatures.'
(Maintenant 3858 – Jim)

Jim's loose translation of the above: 
'The meeting was packed out and it lasted for more than two hours.

JP Géné’s position was isolated and he is obviously overwhelmed by this affair.

Many thanks to Michel Issaly (President des vignerons indépendants) for his welcome and his support.

Well done to the participants in the debate for the clarity of their arguments.

Several revelations: the INRA has not paid rent on the Domaine de Vassal for the last year. PF Vranken is prepared to talk about the future of the Domaine de Vassal. (See below)

It was agreed that the most important aim is to preserve Domain de Vassal’s collection of grape varieties and not to accept this collection being moved to another site unless it was entirely satisfactory and fit for the purpose.  

The petition remains online and we have more than 3800 signatures. (Currently 3858 – Jim) 

Vranken-Pommery's Green Book

Biodiversity – at the heart of our activities

Extract (below) about the Domaine de Vassal from Vranken-Pommery’s Green Book (rapport de dévelopment durable). French version of the Green Book here.

Vranken-Pommery own Listel, of which the Domaine de Vassal is a small part.  You would think that Vranken-Pommery has a great deal of kudos to gain by helping to find a solution to what should happen to the Domaine de Vassal and its unique collection. Hopefully they will be part of the solution.  

‘Biodiversity – At the heart of our activities:
The largest collection of wine varietals in the world
Since 1949, Domaines Listel has hosted an experimental research centre managed by INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), whose mission is to preserve, gain better knowledge of and promote vine biodiversity. This centre is called Domaine Vassal. It covers over 27 hectares and is home to INRA's national and international collection of vines. The sandy soil is a true health sanctuary where neither phylloxera nor virus vector nematodes exist. In addition, the climate is ideal for the healthy development of all varietals.

This collection has been progressively added to through donations, exchanges and prospects in France and abroad. At present it constitutes a unique resource worldwide. It consists of more than 7,000 "clones" from 40 different countries, wild vines, cultivated vines or vines of newly created varietals.

Such a collection is important for a range of reasons:

• The many varietals conserved come from very diverse regions and countries; some are no longer cultivated in vineyards and constitute a magnificent cultural and historical heritage. Current genetic erosion therefore makes this type of conservation centre necessary; today it would no longer be possible to reconstitute such a collection. Older source vineyards that used to produce the grape varietals have in fact disappeared in France and worldwide.

• It is also a source of vital genes for varietal improvement. Some of these genes might be essential in the future in order to cope with vineyard diseases, the changes in tastes of consumers or even future climate change. INRA currently uses several useful genes in this way in its improvement programmes.

• This central collection helps to reconstitute or complete other collections in France and abroad, or to establish experimental vineyards. It has led to the creation of a number of clones and also to the cultural renewal of old grape varietals.

To achieve this, Domaine Vassal dispatches several hundred varieties each year in response to requests from researchers, scientists, technicians or other professionals. Domaine Vassal also has an exceptional document base. It is regularly asked to provide information on vine varieties. This collection is a magnificent genetic tool for improving the cultivation of vines worldwide.

Domaine Vassal's collection of vines is therefore remarkable on many fronts, including in terms of its historical experience, its size and the quality of the analysis of its plant material.'

Good to see Vranken-Pommery's eloquent and concise explanation of the importance of the Domaine de Vassal and its unique collection.  

See news story (29.11.13) on
The story confirms that there are plans to move the collection:
'Although final confirmation is still pending, it is due to be moved again from next year to the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) site at Peche Rouge in Gruissan, near Narbonne.'

The crucial question is whether the INRA site at Peche Rouge is phylloxera free? The INRA site says it is part of La Clape, so it looks as though the collection of vines would not be planted in phylloxera-free ground.  

Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin: Saturday 30th November with friends

Portes Ouvertes this Saturday 30th (tomorrow) from 10h-19h: with Pierre-Marie, Marie, Monique, Pierre, Jeanne and Joseph Luneau (Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin) with friends Romain & Gwenael Paire (Côte Roannaise) and Carine & François Crochet (Bué, Sancerre). Details here

 Marie and Pierre-Marie Luneau@RSJ Restaurant London May 2013 

 New PDG: Joseph Luneau

Monique, Pierre-Marie, Marie et Pierre: fin Vendange 2011

François Crochet

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Real Wine Fair 2014: Sunday 13th April – Monday 14th April

The 2014 edition of the Real Wine Fair will be held on Sunday 13th April for trade and the public and Monday 14th April for trade only. Venue as in 2013 is Tobacco Dock – closest stations Shadwell or Wapping. Hours 10am-6pm on both days. There will be further details here.  

Real@Tobacco Dock 2013

Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants: Paris Friday 28th Nov-2nd Dec + Vassal Petition

The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants is on this weekend in Paris running from today 928th November) until Monday 2nd December at Pavillon 7/1, Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles. There are producers from all over France here including nearly 140 from the Loire.

This should be an excellent opportunity for any vigneron who hasn't signed the petition to defend the Domaine de Vassal to do so and to encourage visitors to the Salon to sign as well. Signatures now stand at 3650 – still a long way to go before reaching the target of 5000. There are still some producers from the Loire, who have yet to sign and will be at the Salon, so I trust they will sign while in Paris!

Tomorrow at the Salon there will be a round table discussion on the threat to and the future of the Domaine de Vassal. Details:

Le vendredi 29 novembre à 11 h 
Table ronde sur l'avenir de Vassal animée par François Morel (rédacteur en chef de la revue Le Rouge et Le Blanc).

Les intervenants seront: André Dubosc, Michel Grisard (Président du Centre d’Ampélographie Alpine Pierre Galet), Bruno Chevallet (Membre de l’Association de Défense des Cépages Modestes), Jean-Michel Deiss (Dirigeant de l’association Vigne Vivantes d’Alsace) et Michel Issaly (Président des vignerons indépendants).

A l'invitation de Michel Issaly (Président des vignerons indépendants de France), Michel Grisard (Président du Centre d’Ampélographie Alpine Pierre Galet), Olivier Poussier (Meilleur Sommelier du monde 2000), Nicolas Joly (Président de l’association Renaissance des Appellations), Bruno Chevallet (Membre de l’Association de Défense des Cépages Modestes), Eric Rominger et Jean-Michel Deiss (Président et dirigeant de l’association Vigne Vivantes d’Alsace), Marc Parcé (Membre de l’association SEVE et du Comité National de l'INAO), André Mercier (Président des Vignerons Ardéchois), Jean-Luc Etievent (Président du Conservatoire International des Cuisines Méditerranéennes), Guy Kastler (Délégué Nature & Progrès général du Réseau des Semences Paysannes), et Claire Julien (Coordinatrice de la Fédération "nature & progrès")


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Domaine de Vassal Petition – important message from Michel Grisard

Important and very interesting comment from Michel Grisard, one of the organisers of the Vassal petition (a loose translation of Michel's comment below).
'We have been looking into this threat to the Domaine de Vassal since the spring. We have written letters to the French Ministry of Agriculture and to the Research Ministry with copies to the director of the INRA (The Institut national de la recherche agronomique) but have had no response – not even an acknowledgement!
This petition is just part of a campaign to protect and preserve the collection of over 7000 grape varieties at the Domaine de Vassal. It is designed to raise people’s awareness.

The INRA is taking this decision by itself without reference to any other organisation. This is not entirely surprising as the various Interprofessionnel bodies around France have shown over many years no interest in this collection.

There is still a long way to go. Thank you for your support.'

'Pour être à l’initiative de cette pétition, car nous avons interpellé le ministre de l’agriculture et le ministre de la recherche, les 2 ministères de tutelles de l’INRA, avec copie au directeur de l’INRA, que nous n’avons même pas reçu un accusé de réception, 2 mois après, cette action a été pour nous une évidence. Pas une pétition pour une simple pétition, mais pour aller plus loin, en proposant une table ronde sur le sujet, en mobilisant les professionnels qui doivent être impliqués. C’est aussi pour créer un déclic dans le monde de la viticulture et pour avoir une certaine "légitimité"dans notre action.

Le sujet, je commence à bien le connaitre depuis le printemps. Il est très complexe, mais principalement politique, une gestion du problème mené par la direction de l’INRA, à Paris. Des études ont été faites. De vrais problèmes sont à résoudre et pas que les 2 raisons avancées. Mais l’INRA prend sa décision seul, sans communiquer avec un bien public et d’intérêt général. La profession, les inter-pro de toutes les régions de France ne se sont plus intéressée à cette collection depuis très longtemps. Alors l’INRA, n’a pas complètement tord de procéder comme elle le fait. Encore est-ce déontologiquement correct???? L’idée de créer une fondation a beaucoup d’avantages, et pour la profession et pour l’INRA, et pour l’état qui permettrait des dé-fiscalisations rentables.

Il nous reste encore beaucoup de chemin à parcourir. Merci de votre soutien.'

Earlier post on Jim's Loire with link explaining how the Domaine de Vassal works and why it is important to preserve this unique collection.

To date there are 3533 signatories from around the world. See the stats here

Updated list of the great and the good who have signed:

Signatories include a selection of the great and the good: 
Jancis Robinson MW, José Vouillamoz, Randall Grahm, Jean-Michel Deiss, François Mauss, Pierre Amadieu, Bruno Chevallet, Michel Grisard, Fabien Lainé, André Deyrieux,  André Dominé, Jamie Goode, Luiz Alberto, Jane Anson, Louise Hurren, Wink Lorch, Brett Jones, Antoine Kreydenweiss, Ken Payton, André Ribeirinho, Robert Plageoles, Julien Brocard, Sylvie Augereau, Thierry Germain, Catherine Breton, Eddy Oosterlinck,  Wilfrid Rousse, Olivier Jullien, Pascal Potaire, Stéphane Mureau, Lydia Bourguignon, Michel Bras, Benoit Tarlant, Vincent Carême, Xavier Weisskopf, Bertrand Jousset, Catherine Simon, Antoine Gerbelle, Élian da Ros, Gérard Marula, Agnès Mosse, Paul Strang, Becky Wasserman-Hone, Chantal Lecouty, Alice Feiring, Lincoln Siliakus, Olivier Grosjean Thierry Puzelat, Antoine Foucault, Eric Nicolas, François Pinon, Olivier Bompas, Olivier Humbrecht, Luc de Conti, Jeremy Seysses, Bernard Baudry, Philippe Gourdon, Philippe Faure-brac, Stephanie Caslot, Emmanuel Caslot, Michel Chapoutier,  Emmanuel Cazes, Eric Narioo, Thierry Michon, Xavier Amirault, Pascal Joulin, Yves Girardin, Bertrand Galbrun, Sylvain Fadat, Marcel Orford-Williams, Alexandre Monmousseau, François Plouzeau, Nathalie Prieur, Annie Sauvat,  Philippe Stuyck, Roger Kolbu, Robert McIntosh, Emmanuel Ogereau, Charles Philipponnat, Vincent Pétré, Jean Clavel, Elisabetta Tosi, Lily Dimitriou, David Cobbold, Jeffrey Davies, Irene de Vette, Jean Abeille, Marc Kreydenweiss, Stefano Raimondi, Dominique Lafon, Peter Handzus, Philippe et Catherine Delesvaux, Ryan O'Connell, Pierre Pichot, Elisabeth Seifert, Tania Pithon, Luciana Braz, Elizabeth Gabay, Xavier Planty, Denis Gambier, Simon Woolf, Frédéric Brunier, Louis Villard, Patricia Boyer Domergue, Edouard Pisani-Ferry, Anne Graindorge, Nicolas de Rouyn, Patrick Baudouin, Vasco Magalhães, Heather Dougherty, Lizzie Shell, Jo Landron, Jacques Sire, Steven Defour, Ilkka Sirén, Cathy Henton, Roger Voss, Giampiero Nadali, Finkus Bripp, Andrew Barrow, Ted Lelekas, Mick Rock, Isabelle Legeron, Pieter Rosenthal, Leon Stolarski, Tom Perry, Benoît Fouassier, Chris Kissack, David Rowe, Ewan Murray, Elisabeth Gstarz, Ralf Kaiser, Margaret Rand, Gavin Quinney, Steve De Long, Boris Maskow, Hervé Lalau, Michel Smith, Anthony Rose, Georges Truc, Sabrina Sykes MW, Catherine Roussel, François Ribo, Marilena Barbera, Ricardo Bernardo, François Demouy, Erica Landin, Sébastien Durand-Viel, Dusan Jelic, Rod Smith MW, Ryan Opaz, Aleks Mehtonen, Keith Prothero, Harold Heckle, Hande Leimer, Liz Sagues, Gabriella Opaz, Christopher Topham-Smith, Anne Naumanen, Régis Chaigne, Michel Bettane, Christelle Guibert, Magnus Reuterdahl, Dan Tudor, Fergus Muirhead, Tina Gellie, Susan Hedblad, Jérôme Saurigny, Hamish Wakes-Miller, Dany Rolland, Sophie Ragot, Caroline Gilby MW, Sharon Parsons, John Matson, David Lehmann, Nigel Blieschke, Lotte Karolina Gabrovits, Justin Roberts, Lionel Gosseaume, Lisa Hall, Siobhan Turner, Peter McCombie MW, Michael Denton, Amy Wislocki and other Decanter magazine staff, Ivo Pages, Eric Morgat, Charles Metcalfe, Subhash Arora and Natasha Hughes. 

Adegga Wine Market: Hotel Florida, Lisbon Saturday 6th December.

The 7th edition of the increasingly famous Adegga Wine Market will be held in Lisbon on Saturday 6th December at the Hotel Flórida@Marques de Pombal. in central Lisbon. A chance to taste the best wines from 40 selected Portuguese producers. Tickets, which includes a tasting glass, are 10€ if bought on line or 12€ if bought at the event. 

'A 7ª edição de um dos melhores eventos de vinho em Portugal.
Prove os melhores vinhos de 40 produtores seleccionados.
Prove e compre os vinhos em prova a preços de evento!
Disfrute do ambiente informal do HotelFlórida.
Deguste os deliciosos petiscos que estamos a preparar.'

More details here including a list of the producers who will be present and a video of a past Adegga Wine Market.

Also Thursday December 5th BYOB hangout for Wine Lovers  

Two of the Agegga movers: