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, 28 February 2014

Lisbon – a final post for a while

 Myriad by SANA Hotels: the recently 
renovated hotel on the Oriente waterfront

A last few photos from my recent stay in Lisbon.

View towards Cemitério dos Prazeres (above and below)

Crest on a house in Lapa

Crab and mango salad 

I enjoy eating at Ibo (Cais do Sodré) especially of I get a table by the window upstairs where you can look across the Tagus. The only problem is that the menu rarely changes, though the food is good and they have an interesting wine list. 

Spun prawns

Roasted Cod with black olive pesto and parmigiano cheese

2009 Dão Quinta de Saes

Quarts de Chaume and Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume: appellations upheld on all counts by Conseil d'Etat

 Florent Baumard (Domaine des Baumard) 
and his father Jean challenged the décrets passed in November 2011

The judgment and decision from France's Conseil d'Etat (France's Supreme Court) has now been published on their site. It is on the ArianeWeb (jurisprudence) section and can be accessed by typing in the case number – 356103. 

Although I will readily admit that legal French strains my normally reasonable French to its very limits*, it is clear that the Conseil d'Etat upheld the two décrets passed in November 2011 and which established Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru and Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume. 

Jean and his son Florent Baumard (Domaine des Baumard) challenged these décrets on the basis that the state had exceeded their powers in signing them into law. The Conseil d'Etat rejected the Baumards' challenge on all counts. 

The decision by the Conseil d'Etat is based on the report from M. Guillaume Odinet, auditeur, and the conclusions of Mme Marie-Astrid Nicolazo de Barmon, rapporteur public (also here); These were presented at the hearing on Wednesday 29th January 2014. Before and after the conclusions were given the Baumards' lawyer from law firm SCP Waquet, Farge Hazan addressed the court.

The grounds for the Baumards' challenge:
'En ce qui concerne la légalité externe :

3. Considérant, en premier lieu, qu'il ressort des pièces du dossier que, conformément à l'article L. 641-6 du code rural et de la pêche maritime, l'organisme de défense et de gestion a été consulté sur le cahier des charges homologué par le décret attaqué, et en particulier sur l'interdiction du processus de cryosélection ; qu'aucune disposition législative ou réglementaire n'imposait à l'INAO de communiquer aux membres de l'organisme un dossier technique et scientifique sur chacune des modifications du cahier des charges envisagées ; qu'il ne ressort pas des pièces du dossier que l'organisme se serait prononcé sur la base d'informations erronées ; que, dès lors, il n'a pas été irrégulièrement consulté ;

4. Considérant, en second lieu, que, contrairement à ce que soutient la requérante, aucune disposition ni aucun principe n'imposait la consultation des organismes de défense et de gestion de l'ensemble des appellations d'origine contrôlée de vins du Val de Loire avant l'adoption d'un cahier des charges permettant l'usage d'une mention traditionnelle telle que la mention " grand cru "' 

It was claimed that there should have been a wide consultation process in particular in relation to the banning of cryoselection and the use of 'grand cru'. Rejected.

En ce qui concerne la légalité interne :

S'agissant du lien existant entre le milieu géographique et le produit :

This is a quite lengthy section (so I'm not quoting it), which I don't claim to fully understand at present but judgment affirms that the zone of the Quarts de Chaume zone is properly delimited and there is a clear link with the production rules that apply to Quarts de Chaume.  

S'agissant de la possibilité de compléter l'appellation " Quarts deA... " par la mention " grand cru " :

The reputation of the Quarts de Chaume is sufficient to justify the term Grand Cru and won't cause confusion with other wines from the Coteaux du Layon. 

S'agissant de l'interdiction du recours au procédé de cryosélection :
(Banning of cryoselection)
17. Considérant qu'il ressort des pièces du dossier que le procédé de cryosélection, qui permet de sélectionner les grains de raisin les plus concentrés et sucrés et d'isoler les grains les plus aqueux en portant l'ensemble des grains cueillis à température négative, a été regardé par la commission d'enquête de l'INAO comme relevant des " pratiques peu ou pas recommandables en matière d'AOC " au motif qu'il conduit à un affaiblissement du lien spécifique du produit avec son terroir en incitant à récolter en début de vendange plutôt que d'attendre la surmaturation, soumise aux conditions climatiques d'arrière-saison, du raisin sur pied ; que, si ce procédé permet une amélioration substantielle du rendement de la vigne, il ne ressort pas des pièces du dossier qu'il serait indispensable à la rentabilité de l'exploitation des vins de Quarts deA... ; que, contrairement à ce que soutient la société requérante, le niveau de rendement de la vigne fixé par le cahier des charges n'est pas un seuil à atteindre mais un maximum ne pouvant être dépassé ; qu'il ne ressort pas des pièces du dossier que ce procédé serait indispensable pour atteindre le titre alcoométrique volumique naturel minimum fixé par le cahier des charges ; que doit, dès lors, être écarté le moyen tiré de ce que le pouvoir réglementaire aurait commis une erreur manifeste d'appréciation en homologuant un cahier des charges interdisant le recours au procédé de cryosélection ;

Cryoselection works by allowing the more concentrated grapes to be separated, following freezing, from more watery ones.
The INAO regards cryoselection as '
pratiques peu ou pas recommandables en matière d'AOC ' – techniques that can barely be recommended if at all for AOC wines. This technique allows to substantially increase yields and means that grapes can be picked at the beginning of the harvest rather than waiting for surmaturation. The maximum yield allowed is not a threshold to be attained but a maximum that must not be exceeded.The use of cryoselection could mean that the required natural minimum degree of ripeness for the grapes on the vine might not be met. 

The objection to the banning of cryoselection was dismissed. 

The challenge to the Quarts de Chaume and the Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume was based on other objections, which I will try to cover shortly but in brief they were:

S'agissant de la possibilité pour les vins de l'AOC " Quarts deA... " de se replier dans l'appellation " Coteaux du Layon ", complétée des mentions " premier cru " et " A... " :

S'agissant des mesures transitoires relatives à l'application des nouvelles règles de conduite de la vigne :

Sur les conclusions tendant à l'annulation du décret du 23 novembre 2011 relatif à l'appellation d'origine contrôlée " Coteaux du Layon " :

En ce qui concerne la possibilité de compléter l'appellation " Coteaux du Layon " par la dénomination géographique " A... " :
En ce qui concerne la délimitation de l'aire parcellaire de production des vins susceptibles de porter la dénomination géographique complémentaire " A... " :

The judgment concludes with:  Article 1er : Les requêtes de la SCEA Domaine des Baumard sont rejetées.

Please note that any mistakes made from translation are my own.

* I'm reminded of this scene in the Marx Brothers: A Night at the Opera.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Breaking news – Quarts de Chaume: Conseil d'Etat upholds Grand Cru

Quarts de Chaume sign

Breaking news: 
The Conseil d'Etat has rejected the Domaine des Baumard's attempt to have the Conseil d'Etat annul the 2011 décret that established Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru, while tightening the regulations.

Apparently the judgment, which is due to be posted on the Conseil d'Etat's website, runs to 10-pages. According to Claude Papin (Château Pierre-Bise), who is the president of the Quarts de Chaume syndicat, the judgment opens the way to favoured sites in the Layon gaining premier cru status. Sounds similar to Burgundy's premier cru. 

Naturally the INAO is very pleased that the changes and the establishment of the Loire's first Grand Cru that they approved in 2011 and was signed into law in November 2011 has been upheld 

This is very good news and hopefully will finally bring the conflict over the status of Quarts de Chaume and Chaume to an end as there is I understand no appeal on a decision by the Conseil d'Etat – it is France's Supreme Court after all. 

Time for the producers to concentrate on making great sweet wine from a very special site and to accept that there will be vintages when this won't be possible. 

Time also to work for a revival in the appreciation and popularity of these great wines – they are far more versatile than is often imagined!    

More to follow once the judgment has been published.

 2011: The first vintage of the Loire's first Grand Cru – Quarts de Chaume
and the Loire's first 1er Cru: Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Lisbon: a few more pics

 Casa dos Passarinhos: not glossy but a great neighbourhood restaurant
and wonderful value

 Tiles@the Danish Embassy

 Abandoned and ruined building in Lapa

 Back in the Tapada das Necessidades  
(above and below)

 Green growth in a tree trunk

 A face of bitter disappointment – 
evidence that corked wine has long been a problem?

 The Foreign Ministry attached to the park

 Renovation along Lisbon's central waterfront: Ribeira das Naus

 The central part of Martim Moniz has been trasnformed with 
a series of little stalls selling snacks _ Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese etc. 
Ideal for an unprentitious, cheap light lunch

 Succulent flowers in Estrela Park

Starting blocks for 2014 Louis Roederer International (English only) Wine Writing Awards

Message from the organisers: 

'2014 Wine Writers’ Competition Now Open
Champagne Louis Roederer is delighted to declare the 10th Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2014 open. 

Based on the feedback we have from entrants we have made some changes to the categories. The Online Columnist and Blogger categories are now combined into a single category Online Communicator and we have added a new category of Short Copy Columnist. We have left out the Website category this year to enable us to concentrate more on the art of writing.

Apart from the prestige that winning a Roederer can bring, there is a generous financial prize and Cristal for each category - in 2013 £1500 and a magnum of stunning Cristal 2004. As last year you will now see that select categories are sponsored by some of the other producers represented by Louis Roederer in the UK. These sponsors will also be donating a special prize to their respective categories.

With over a third of the entries in 2013 coming from countries outside the UK The Roederers are truly international - we would like to think that the global reach of the competition will be further extended this year. For full details and rules of entry please visit'

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Robert Parker on 'some scandals' in 2011-2012

Robert Parker was the keynote speaker at the 10th anniversary of The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood, Napa Valley (18th-21st February 2014). On Wednesday 19th February he gave a wide ranging speech followed by a question and answer session. 

In a post called Lion in Winter: Robert Parker Addresses Wine Writers Richard Jennings ( gives an impressively detailed account.

In the section called 'Defining Personal Success', Parker alludes to 'some scandals' in 2011-2012. He generously acknowledges that "I was certainly at fault for not watching as carefully as I should have" and says that "our writer in Spain, although he didn’t do anything seriously wrong, surely wasn’t careful."    

The relevant passage from Richard Jennings' account: 

'Defining Personal Success
Parker was asked, “What does success at this point mean to you?”

Parker explained that TWA “went through a transitionary stage with staff where there were some scandals.” Those scandals were “damaging and embarrassing and I was certainly at fault for not watching as carefully as I should have.”

“Now there are strict rules. Our writers are no longer independent contractors. And we’re not done hiring.”

“I think The Wine Advocate is as brilliant as it’s ever been. No one covers more wines under $25. We have a great team now and I’m excited about it. 2011-2012 were troublesome years. The appearance of doing something wrong is just as bad as the reality, and our writer in Spain, although he didn’t do anything seriously wrong, surely wasn’t careful.”'

Another view here of Robert Parker's session, here (Katie Bell, Forbes) and here from David White (Terroirist)

Now with video of the session by Alder Yarrow Vinography.

Monday, 24 February 2014

RAW – The Artisan Wine Fair: London 18th-19th May

 Scene from the 2013 RAW

Tickets for RAW – the artisan wine fair 18th-19th May@F BLOCK, The Old Truman Brewery, 83 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL – are now on sale. 

Ticket Information  

Ticket prices:  
Sunday 18 May (10 am to 6 pm)                                             
Trade: free
Public: advance tickets - £25 (on the door - £30) 

Monday 19 May (10 am to 8 pm)                                       
Trade: free

Monday 19 May (5 pm to 8 pm) 
Public (limited spaces): advance tickets - £25 (On the door - £30) 

Full Access for both days 
Sunday 18 May (10 am to 6 pm) & Monday 19 May (5 pm to 8 pm.
Public (limited spaces): advance tickets - £40 (discounted price only available as advanced ticket option)

Last year some of the wine arrived by boat


The court appearance of Emmanuel Giboulot will now be followed by that of Olivier Cousin

Emmanuel Giboulot@Renaissance tasting, Angers 2nd February 2014

Emmanuel Giboulot has now appeared before the court in Dijon where the prosecution has asked for a fine of 1000€ with 500€ suspended. If granted there will presumably be conditions attached to the suspended 500€. The judge will be giving her verdict on Monday 7th April at 13.30. 

Would the prosecution have asked for a more severe penalty if there had been such a show of support for Giboulot through the petition organised by the Institut pour la Protection de la Santé Naturelle with 481,746 signatures by 11.52 CET today? Not forgotting the thousand or so people who turned up in front of the court in support.

 Photo of the crowd on twitter posted by  today

The next vinous court appearance will be next week on Wednesay March 5th when Olivier Cousin will be up before the court at Angers on the 'Anjou Pur Breton' labelling charge. Cousin appeared in court on 2nd October 2013 but the trial was put back until a week on Wednesday. Will the prosecution be asking for a similar fine to that demanded in the case of Emmanuel Giboulot or will it be more substantial. I assume that similarly judgment won't actually be given that day but some weeks later.

Once again there will be a picnic in front of the Angers court house in the Place Leclerc from Noon.  

 Olivier Cousin with one of his horses@Angers 2nd October 201

 A couple of scenes from last October's picnic 


Not 40,000 signatures but nearly 500,000!
There has been some comment about the inaccuracy of some wine blogs. However, it cannot be said that the traditional media where entirely accurate in their reporting of the petition in support of Emmanuel Giboulot. Both the Guardian and The Drinks Business got it well wrong:

The Guardian 
'More than 41,000 supporters of Giboulot have signed a petition calling for the charges against him to be dropped, and dozens are expected to attend a picnic outside the court in Dijon on Monday.'

The Drinks Business 24th February, 2014 
'His cause has elicited much support and an internet petition launched by l’Institut pour la Protection de la Santé Naturelle (IPSN), has already gained over 40,000 signatures.'

The petition here  actually attracted 481,746 signatures by around noon today (CET time)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Emmanuel Giboulot: the views of two expert Burgundian observers + some links

Emmanuel Giboulot@the Renaissance tasting, Angers 
The leafhooper that carries the flavescence dorée 
is attracted by particular colours – orange and, especially, yellow 

Emmanuel Giboulot will be up before le tribunal correctionnel (@Le Tribunal d'Instance) in Dijon tomorrow at 1.30 pm for refusing to buy spray needed to treat his vines against flavescence dorée. There will un grand picnic bio in front of the Tribunal building at noon.

Since the l'Institut pour la Protection de la Santé Naturelle launched their petition in support of Emmanuel Giboulot around a week ago it has attracted an extraordinary level of support – 452,823 signatures by 23.47 (CET) on Saturday 22nd February. A few days ago such was the rush to sign that the site kept crashing and they had to turn off the signature counter and only update from time to time news of the number signed up. It would seem likely that by the time Giboulot stands before the court tomorrow signatures will be close on half a million.*

*Update: As of 19.47 CET today there are now 474,212 signatories to the petition. The early rate of increase has slowed but the organisers will be close to their aim of 500,000 signatures by 13.30 tomorrow (24.2.14).     

I asked two expert Burgundian observers to give me their views of this now cause célèbre and how this case in perceived amongst other Burgundian producers.    

Jasper Morris MW

People are not quite sure what to do, even the organic crowd. There is sympathy for Giboulot because he’s not a show pony, and he hasn’t deliberately tried to get up the nose of the authorities à la AOC chappy. 
(Jim: Jasper is referring to Olivier Cousin, who will be before the court in Angers on Wednesday 5th March for using the word 'Anjou' on a label for a 'vin de table'.)  

What people really want is a proper forum to work out the right way to go rather than having something forced on them. I think they will probably manage to establish this for next season.

Apparently there is an organic spray which can be used but it is even more toxic than the synthetic one, so thoroughly undesirable.

I suspect some people went through the motions of spraying but tipped it all down the drain (also unsound mind you).

I think my own solution would be to make the treatment heavily recommended with the option of signing out – in which case you would be liable to relatively heavy penalties if but only if the disease appeared in your vineyard.'

As you would expect there are many shades of view even in the über-organic camp.

Some say Emmanuel did good, some say he is stupid because it could become the new phylloxera - similarly, many people didn't treat to start with 130 years ago saying 'but my vines are okay...'

But all will tell you that what he did, the way he did it, was completely unnecessary and that it was basically his choice to 'go public' and end up in court/prison. The only checking/policing of the policy is that officials check the invoices to ensure a vigneron has bought the pesticide (a dividing word, but it is certainly bio/organic and I think maybe even biodynamic 'approved'). The officials don't at any stage check that the growers have actually used it! (Très French ;-)

Everyone will tell you that they know vignerons who have not sprayed, but they bought the stuff and have invoices to prove it. Hence, it was EG's choice for all this to happen, hence, very limited sympathy, despite many agreeing the 'cause'...'

I met Emmanuel Giboulot briefly at the Renaissance tasting in Angers on 2nd February and my impression chimes with Jasper's that he hasn't gone out of his way to seek confrontation.

Although it would be impossible to personally monitor spraying through out all the Burgundian vineyards, the French authorities could presumably insist that detailed records of spraying are kept. Is there feeling that this would be a step to far and that the present situation where the purchase of the spray is monitored but not its application keeps most of the growers happy and makes it look as though the authorities are applying the law? 


Some links:  
On 26th March 2013 the INRA (The French National Institute For Agricultural Research) published a paper on flavescence dorée. It is clear from their introduction that the INRA recognised that the current sprays, although obligatory, are far from satisfactory – polluants, coûteux (expensive), et contrecarrent la démarche de réduction de pesticides de la filière viticole (go against the French Government's policy of reducing the use of pesticides in French viticulture. They acknowledge that this both poses enormous problems for organic wine producers and the need to find alternative measures to combat the disease and the leaf hoppers.  

'From introduction
'La recherche est nécessaire pour trouver des traitements
Les moyens de lutte actuels reposent sur l’arrachage des ceps atteints, la prophylaxie de l’état sanitaire des plants de pépinière, et les traitements insecticides contre le vecteur. Ces traitements sont obligatoires, polluants, coûteux, et contrecarrent la démarche de réduction de pesticides de la filière viticole. Ces plans de lutte obligatoire posent en outre d’énormes problèmes aux viticulteurs engagés en Agriculture Biologique ou en processus de conversion vers celle-ci.'
The INRA are trying to find sustainable alternatives:
'From 'Moyens de lutte alternatifs et durables'

'Proposer des méthodes qui vont permettre de mieux gérer la lutte actuelle et développer des solutions de lutte alternatives plus économes en insecticides est donc indispensable à court terme. Ceci nécessite une meilleure connaissance du pathogène, du vecteur et des mécanismes qui gouvernent les interactions entre le phytoplasme, la cicadelle et la vigne.'


From Hervé Lalau's Chroniques Vineuses: comments by Olivier Leflaive on treating flavescence dorée.


Le Bien Public: Emmanuel Giboulot : « Je ne suis que le détonateur d’un problème »   Emmanuel Giboulot talks about his case and tactics for tomorrow's appearance.   


Jim's Loire: previous post on Emmanuel Giboulot 

24.2.14: David Cobbold on Les 5 du Vin explains why he hasn't signed the petition and why he won't be signing.