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 31 December 2015

Scotland: the Spey floods at Newtonmore

Photos of the River Spey yesterday taken by the bridge 
carrying the road south from Newtonmore towards Dalwhinnie  

 Rain spots on the lens 

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Domaine Ogereau, Anjou – profile

Domaine Ogereau, Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay, Anjou
Vincent, Catherine and Emmanuel Ogereau

Vincent and Catherine Ogereau
Emmanuel Ogereau during the 2015 vintage – October 

Here at Domaine Ogereau, as in a number of other Loire domaines, the changing of the generations is underway with Emmanuel Ogereau increasingly taking over from his parents – Vincent and Catherine. Emmanuel officially became an associate on 20th April 2015. Emmanuel is the 5th generation in this family of vignerons. The Ogereaus have owned this domaine since 1890s. 

Vincent and Catherine took over responsibility for the domaine in 1989 – the year when they made an excellent 1989 Coteaux du Layon St Lambert Cuvée Prestige and followed this success with an award winning 1990 Coteaux du Layon St Lambert Cuvée Prestige.      

Vincent is thoroughly modern in his approach to quality wine-making. His winery is impeccably clean with high quality throughout his Chais. Vincent is a great believer in Chenin Blanc. His Savennières is wonderful. His bright hued, dry Rosé de Loire has an enjoyable red fruit character with zest and style.

Vincent’s reds are some of the best in the appellation. His “straight” Anjou Rouge is nowadays made in a slightly lighter style for earlier drinking, whilst his 'Villages' wines are sterner stuff and need a few years cellaring to show their finest attributes. The Ogereaus top red is a single vineyard – Côte de la Houssaye. This is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and only released in good vintages when the Cabernet Sauvignon ripens properly.

There are two dry whites: an Anjou Blanc En Chenin made, as the name implies, from 100% Chenin Blanc and a Savennières Clos le Grand Beaupréau. This is from the joint venture vineyard with the Papins (Pierre Bisé) and the Guégniards (Domaine de la Bergerie). 

They also make very elegant and refined Coteaux du Layons – a range of three. First off a straight Coteaux du Layon Saint-Lambert and a top wine the Clos des Bonnes Blanches from a well-sited single vineyard that overlooks the Layon. Fermented in 500-litre barrels and the aged for 18 months this is only made in good vintages. This is one of the top sweet wines from the Layon.   

Then there is a recent introduction – Harmonie des Bonnes Blanches. This is lighter and less rich than Clos des Bonnes Blanches. It is also vinified in 500-litre oak barrels and aged for 15 months.   

2015 saw two exciting additions to their range of wines: the acquisition of 43 ares in Coteaux du Layon Chaume and 87 ares in the Quarts de Chaume. 

Before returning to Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay Emmanuel had considerable experience working away from the Loire. He spent just over two years at Les Vignerons de Buzet from July 2010 to July 2012. Then he had a short spell at the Cave de Tain l'Hermitage from


This profile is one of a series I am gradually writing for RSJ News – the blog for the RSJ Restaurant in London's Waterloo. The other two profiles completed, so far, are Domaine Luneau-Papin and Château Pierre-Bise.  


Tuesday 29 December 2015

Farewell Charly Foucault – such sad news!

Charly Foucault: 1947 - 29th December 2015 
(Charly in October 2010)

I am very shocked and sad to learn of the death overnight of Charly (Jean-Louis) Foucault, the elder of the two brothers who run the exceptional Clos Rougeard making Saumur-Champigny, Saumur and Coteaux de Saumur. These are great wines and they have a great capacity to age. 

Charly died overnight in a hospital in Angers – he had been in hospital several times since the end of the 2015 harvest. 

Charly took over running the Clos Rougeard from his parents in 1969 with Nady (Bernard), who is three years younger. They are the 8th generation of Foucaults to make wine in Chacé. The oldest legal document about the domaine dates from 1664. Before the Second World War their grandfather sold his wines to the famous La Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris.    

I first met Charly and Nady in 1990 when I visited them in their extraordinary cellar in Chacé – the first of several memorable visits. In those days the Foucaults were seen as marginal figures partly because of their careful use of barrel aging. It was tasting together with Charly and Nady that I first was shown the differences between the same from one barrel to another and from one cooper to another.   

It has been fascinating and very satisfying to see them and the Clos Rougeard be recognised as one of the greatest Loire estates. Through remaining true to their beliefs they became an inspiration to a new generation of vignerons.  

Charly and Nady shared a passion for making top quality wine using traditional methods both in the vineyard and winery. The Foucaults were never seduced by the chemical revolution of 1960s and 70s.

Charly was very proud and supportive of Françoise, his wife, when she was in charge at Château Yvonne in Parnay, where her Saumur Blanc was excellent. 

Charly was great company with a fine sense of humour. I saw Charly all too briefly in October – never imagining that this would be the last time.  

Our sincere condolences to Françoise, Antoine and Caroline, and Nady and Anne. Our thoughts are with you.  

(Additional material from ouestfrance

Charly in the old winery (15 Rue de l'Eglise, Chacé)
during the 2011 harvest  

Update: 30th December 2015 (12.15)
Charly's death has had a big impact on social media which shows the affection and respect that so many people had for him. To date the post on Jim's Loire has had over 1050 page views in under 24 hours and a similar post on Les 5 du Vin has attracted some 920 views. There have been a number of news stories as well as many tweets and posts on Facebook. 

Monday 28 December 2015

The joys of driving northwards from London to Scotland over the Christmas holidays

M6: Queues: 40 mph

Today we drove up from London to Newtonmore – nine and half hours driving to cover the 520 miles. The lovely M6 north of Birmingham lived up to its poor reputation being the slowest part of the journey with us coming to a complete halt on several occasions.

We revived ourselves at the journey's end with a glass or more of Tio Pepe. 

Sunday 27 December 2015

Littlestone – a nostalgic visit

This was taken on Easter Day and showed unseasonable weather for early April! 
However the snow soon melted here but other places in Kent had 8". 
As can be seen part of the terrace - The Dormy House Hotel - had suffered fire damage. 
The fire had occurred at the end of February 1983.
© Copyright John Baker and licensed for reuse under 

 by the yellow-bricked terrace of flats 


Yesterday I made a nostalgic visit to the small seaside resort of Littlestone on the Kent coast. Back in the mid-1950s my brother and I along with two of our cousins spent a couple of successive summer holidays here staying at the Dormy House Hotel. 

I'm not sure whether we spent a fortnight here or just one week here – I suspect it was a week. Nor do I remember much of what we did. I think we had most of our meals at the Dormy House. In the 1950s there certainly wasn't the variety of eating-out options now available, although Littlestone still has no eating places on the seafront. You still have to go westwards to the adjoining resort of Greatstone for places to eat.  

My guess is that we spent much of our time on the stony beach, which in those days were divided up by wooden groynes, which have now all gone except for a few vestiges. The collapsed section of the Mulberry Harbour that broke its rope when being towed across to the Normandy beaches in 1944 was much more visible then. The remains are apparently now only visible at low tide.

We certainly went on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. 

 Beach huts at Littlestone
(above and below)

 Finely striped hut

After a walk on the Littlestone seashore we headed through Greatstone to Dungeness with its nuclear power station and two lighthouses. 

 Dungeness nuclear power station from Littlestone 

Dungeness Snack Shack

 The old Dungeness lighthouse with the power station behind 

Crest on the lighthouse 

 Dungeness Station and Café – repair or demolition?

 Metal caravan
Plenty of Shingle with huts by the seashore  




Saturday 26 December 2015

Winchelsea and Rye: a Christmas Eve jaunt

Golden sunlight in Winchelsea

The New Inn

On Christmas Eve we took a drive from Hawkhurst to Rye, then along to Winchelsea where we had a snack lunch at the very welcoming New Inn before continuing to Hastings and then back to Hawkhurst. 

There is nothing which has been contrived by man, 
by which so much happiness is produced us by a good tavern or inn.
Johnson Mar. 1776

Part of the interior of The New Inn

 Sign that Winchelsea was once a port 

 Church of St Thomas the Martyr


Hastings Old Town 

(above and below) 

Santa Claus as train driver