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, 28 February 2015

#winelover 3rd anniversary: probably the last set of pics

 #fishlovers/ #winelover @Cervejaria Ramiro: 16.2.2015

Lunch on Sunday 16th February was at the famous Cervejaria Ramiro.  

Angelika Deutsch brandishing an alleged dinosaur's penis 
although Angelika appears to be delighted it 
might be more useful if attached to something!

A walk after lunch to the wine bar with a view: 

Not sure they have mastered Scrabble ... 

 The famous 28 tram headed towards Graca from Martim Moniz

Thanks but I'll have a glass of wine instead!! 

Group@the car park wine bar on southern edge of the Barro Alto
An after-lunch Port stop

André – Señor Port...!

André and his Mick Jagger impression

Just William – all William!
Dramatic view from the wine bar roof terrace

 From the terrace

Breakfast with a view: 27th February 2015

Brightly clear late February Friday morning with sun glinting on tall buildings in the City.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Looks like it is a myth that the 100-point scale can be credited to Robert Parker

'LONDON— Robert M. Parker Jr. , widely regarded as the world’s most powerful wine critic, has announced he will no longer taste Bordeaux en primeur.

The Wine Advocate founder, credited as the creator of the 100-point wine rating scale, says the time is right for him to step back from the pressure of reviewing more than 600 wines from barrel.'

It is interesting how certain claims get repeated until they become 'held truths'. Take the nation that Robert Parker was the first to adapt the 100-point scale used in the USA to mark school essays to assess wine. Will Lyons, in yesterday's The Wall Street Journal is only the latest to  repeat this 'fact' – 'credited as the creator of the 100-point wine rating scale'. 
Instead detailed research from the excellent Aaron Nix-Gomez ( indicates that the use of a 100-point scale may well predate Robert Parker by some 125 years. So we may well be able to credit Robert with the modern calibration of the 100-point scale but not its creation. There is no doubt that it was Parker who popularised the 100-point scale and made it known around the wine world as that it is now the most used scale.. 

Although it is hardly surprising that a scale used to assess American wines in the mid 19th century didn't immediately grab the wine world's attention, Parker's remarkable and so far unique success is probably due to a blend of right place, right time, his energy and focus plus people's liking for ratings.       

“Assuming 100 to be the standard for best”: The 100-point wine scale predates Robert Parker’s by 125 years
During my recent visit to Albuquerque I came across numerous references indicating that the wines of Bernalillo, located just north of Albuquerque, were celebrated next to those of El Paso in what is now Texas.  One such example appears in Colonel James F. Meline’s account of his summer tour Two Thousand Miles on Horseback (1866).[1] Colonel Meline took time to stop and taste several of the wines in Bernalillo.  He found that the “wines are capable, with proper treatment, of being made excellent” from the “superior” grapes.  Unfortunately, the wine was “inexpertly handled” and “used almost as fast as made”.  Thus old wines were “almost out of the question.”  It was later in Albuquerque that he was able to drink a Bernalillo wine “that was quite as good as any made at El Paso.”

Colonel Meline must have been suitably impressed by the Bernalillo wine he tasted in Albuquerque for he sent two bottles to the American Wine Growers’ Association of Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Association published in its proceedings, which Colonel Meline reproduced in his appendix, that the 1861 white wine received a “vote 90” and the red wine “81.”  According to George Graham, Esquire, President of the Association, the white wine “was considered better than most wines of the same age, either of Catawba or good Rhine wine.”  The wines were judged “by figures marked up to 100, which is the highest character of wine of any kind…Most of our Ohio wine does not reach the excellence of the wine presented to you.”

“That we may know the relative value of their own manufacture”:  The spread of the 100-point wine scale in late 19th century America

By the 1850s Ohio was the largest wine producing state in the country with the Catawba vine the mostly widely planted.  These vines soon began to show disease.  In response, the American Wine Growers’ Association of Cincinnati, Ohio set out to find hardier vines that would produce wine just as good as their favorite Catawba.  To evaluate experimental lots of wine the Association developed a 100-point wine scale which they first employed in 1853.  This scale continued to be used by the Association for the rating of all wines through at least 1870.  Ohio was not the only state to employ the 100-point scale.

The spread of the 100-point scale follows the rise of state horticultural societies interested in the cultivation of vineyards and production of wine. The spread appears particularly active in the 1860s.  There was an interest in improving the quality of wine to gain access to the sales market of domestic and foreign wine.  The scale facilitated judging committees in picking the top wines from several dozen samples as well as to compare both within and across tastings.  Judging committees were typically made up of three to five members.  The final score for a wine was simply the average of each judge’s score.  The top wines were then those with the highest final score.'

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Loire Cabernet Franc producer – can you help?

Chinon: The Vienne and statue of Rabelais 
on north side of bridge 

The Vienne, Chinon and its château

Jim's Loire has been approached for help by AJ. Can anyone identify this producer please? In terms of the size of caves and on the north side of the Loire, this rather points to Bourgueil. Any help is greatly appreciated. 

Of course if AJ is mistaken and it is south of the Loire then Saumur itself is possible but Le Puy Notre Dame more likely.  

'Some years ago I visited a grower situated somewhere between, I think, Saumur and the Chinon area on the north bank of the Loire.  I remember his wine and the fine quality but cannot find any record of his name of whereabouts. 

The dead giveaway in my view is that under the winery was a steep staircase which led down to a huge network of old, I think he said Roman, mine workings.  They were big enough to drive a bus around, went on for miles and had access from the outside.  He used a small area which he covered with gravel as his cellars.  Does this ring a bell with you? 

I am planning to visit friends in Saumur in June and wanted to visit that vineyard again.  Any help in identifying him would be greatly appreciated.'


Chez Bruce: a tough day at the office with Keith Prothero, Nicolette Waterford and others

Nicolette Waterford: Keith's guest of honour 
Nicolette looks after PR for The Chenin Blanc Association 
and a number of other accounts 

Yesterday was definitely one of those tough days at the office – lunch at Chez Bruce stretching from around midday to 17.30. A small group of us – Christelle Guibert, Neil Beckett, Jamie Goode, Nigel Platts-Martin, Neleen Strauss and Greg Sherwood – invited by Keith Prothero – the luncheon legend plus director and shareholder in The Sampler – to welcome Nicolette Waterford, who runs the PR for The Chenin Blanc Association and various other PR accounts, to London.

Most of the party were welcomed with the 1996 Bollinger RD Extra Brut Champagne from magnum. However, as I'm not drinking Champagne because of their shameful treatment of 'Champagne Jayne' and Champagne is far from his favourite beverage, Keith kindly allowed me bring a bottle of 2004 Les Cormiers Saumur Blanc Château de Villeneuve for our apéro

 Young Keith Prothero considering
 the 2004 Saumur Blanc 

Keith Prothero

Greg Sherwood (Handford Wines)

Dr Neil Beckett (editor of World of Fine Wine) @work

Is Neil about to take the pledge ....

Nigel Platts-Martin, London's leading restaurateur 
giving the flight of red Burgundy serious thought 

Dr Jamie Goode, sans anorak! 

Christelle Guibert

Limbering up for the off ...
(above and below)

First flight: 
2004 Meursault J-F Coche-Dury 
wonderfully expressive with complex nose, vibrant wine 
One of my top wines of the lunch   

2008 Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru Domaine Leflaive
currently less expressive than the Meursault

2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Bonneau de Martray 
Initially closed but opened up in glass showing 
increased complexity and length

Accompanied by: crab tartlet with thinly sliced scallop salad, 
bisque vinaigrette and chives  

Second flight:  

 The red Burgundy flight 

2001 Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Armand Rousseau Père et Fils
– bricky with lovely delicacy

2001 Musigny Grand Cru Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier; 
2001 Clos St Denis Grand Cru Domaine Dujac
1942 Castillo d'Ygay Gran Reserva Especial Bodegas Murrieta (served blind)
Musigny – silky texture and increasingly seductive as it opened up 
Clos St D: silky concentration 
Blind – d'Ygay: bricky to orange colour but markedly more 
dense than the 2001s, this vibrant 1942 
still had lovely texture with tones of balsamic. What a treat!
if bought young there is no way HMRC would 
agree that this 72-year-old is a 'wasting asset' 
ie a life of less than 50 years       

Accompanied by: Rare-roast venison loin with rocket, 
truffle, Coolea and hazelnuts   

Third flight:    

 1978 Château La Mission Haut-Brion, Graves; 1982 Château Haut Brion, Graves;
(today these two would be Pessac-Leognan an AC that started in 1987)
1986 Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac (served blind)
(1982 La Mission – corked) 
1986 Mouton noticeably more youthful than 1978 and 1982
Though aging enjoyed the delicacy of the 1978 La Mission

Accompanied by: Roast veal and sweetbread with 
lyonnaise fondant potato and wild mushrooms 

Fourth flight: 

1986 Château d'Yquem, Luc-Saluces, Sauternes 
 (Unfortunately I failed to take a pic of the bottle!) 

 1989 Le Marigny Selection de Grands Nobles, Vouvray
Domaine des Aubuisières, Bernard Fouquet 

Bernard Fouquet's 1989 showed brilliantly with its 
passerilage fruit and character to the fore
rich concentration but marvellously vibrant and long
Keith and some others thought it superior to the d'Yquem
though to be fair 1989 is the superior vintage, 
while the Fouquet was only a small fraction of the price of the Yquem 

Accompanied by: vanilla mille-feuille with Yorkshire rhubarb, 
blood orange sorbet and lemon curd

Undoubtedly a great occasion, very privileged to be there and very spoilt by Keith's generosity. The food was just excellent – not flashy but of a very high quality. My thanks to Sara Bichiorri, Chez Bruce's sommelier and her staff, who looked after us so well. 

Quote of the lunch (Nigel Platts-Martin):
"I don't want wines that want to be my best friend!" 

and what was off the record? That would be telling....! 

Keith making sure he doesn't neglect the essentials