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, 31 December 2016

2017 – not much to cheer I fear........!

Happy New Year but will it be?

There are many who will be very happy to see the back of 2016 – frost and mildew in the Loire and other northern French vineyards, Brexit lunacy in the UK and in the US the election of a spoilt child. 

Unfortunately the arrival of 2017 will not wave a magic wand to reverse the effects and after-shocks of 2016. 2017 will see us living with the consequences of 2016. 

Those Loire producers, who were severely hit by the frosts of 2016 April, will be feeling the consequences during the coming year with low wine stocks. There is no doubt that the Loire cannot afford another serious April frost. Fingers will be firmly crossed during Springtime.

It is increasingly clear that the UK cannot afford Brexit. Unfortunately May's incompetent and arrogant government appear to be all too likely to get the worst Brexit deal going. I just hope that the prospects of a hard Brexit will dawn on enough people to force a rethink.....

With a bit of luck we will see London's ridiculous Garden Bridge cancelled.

As for Trump .......


Friday, 30 December 2016

Barry Gamble (The London Vines Ltd) made indefinitely bankrupt

As 2016 draws to a close I am sure that Barry Gamble's many friends and fervent admirers, who may include Emma and Katie, will appreciate an update, especially as the liquidator's latest report to 30.10.16 is available here.

Although Gamble was made bankrupt at Croydon County Court on 8th December 2015, his bankruptcy wasn't confirmed until 2nd June 2016 as Gamble appealed to the court claiming that the bankruptcy order should not have been made. Fortunately Gamble's delaying tactics failed – the order arose from the misfeasance action brought by solicitors acting for the liquidator of The London Vines Ltd. In the latter half of 2015 Gamble was fined by default £741,647.45

The UK bankruptcy register shows that Gamble's bankruptcy, which would normally have ended on 8th December 2016, has been extended indefinitely'Order suspending bankrupt’s discharge under Section 279(3) of the Insolvency Act 1986 until the fulfillment of conditions as specified in the Order made by the Court and effective from 29 November 2016'. I will report on these conditions if and when I have the details.

Given the successful misfeasance claim – taking money out of The London Vines Ltd without proper justification – Gamble should have been banned as a UK director. That this wasn't pursued may well be down to Government cuts in The Insolvency Service. Anyway Gamble's continued bankruptcy precludes him from being a UK director.  

There is further potential bad news for the Gamble household. Amanda Gamble, Barry's wife, may well also be made bankrupt early in 2017 as reported in the Liquidator's report from 31st October 2015 to 30th October 2016. 'A Statutory Demand was personally served on Mrs Gamble on 22nd October 2016 and accordingly, Mrs Gamble has until 09 November 2016 to apply to the Court to have the Demand set aside and we will be able to present a Bankruptcy Petition from 14 November 2016.' It seems that Amanda Gamble is yet to be made bankrupt as her name does not yet appear on the bankruptcy register.  

According to the liquidator's latest report: 'Barry Gamble claimed that all of the net sale proceeds from the property at 6 Rowan Close (Banstead) were paid to his wife Amanda Gamble'.   

Sadly I suspect that few will be surprised to learn that it is very unlikely that any of the clients and investors with The London Vines Ltd will get any of the £1.63 million claimed to be owing. 
Gamble made an appearance here in the Mirror back in February 2016. 

Barry Gamble's libel case
In December 2014 Barry Gamble decided to sue me in the High Court for libel and slander. Essentially, despite the misfeasance judgment, Gamble claimed to be an honest businessman. 

Gamble based much of his case and claim on a company called ESW Exports (UK) Ltd, which supposedly had experience and expertise in exporting English sparkling wine. Central to Gamble's legal claim was that he had personally lost a contract with a Toronto based Canadian wine importer worth £80,000.

This contract, of course, was pure fantasy and the whole case an abuse of legal process. There never was a contract with the Canadian importer. It took Gamble some nine months to come up with the name of the importer who, when I contacted him in November 2015,
told me:  

'I took the time to go through my records to determine whether I had any contact with Mr. Gamble as his name and company did not ring a bell.  I deal with dozens of suppliers every year and many of our contacts do not result in any business. I did find some e-mail correspondence with him in 2013 where I informed him of some upcoming opportunities for sparkling wines with our monopoly, the LCBO. He sent me information about one Italian sparkling wine which was priced outrageously with no hope of ever being purchased. I reached out to him again a few months later regarding another opportunity and he did not respond so I closed my file. I have never heard from him since.'

Gamble was not a director or shareholder of ESW Exports (UK) Ltd – he never explained why he would have personally benefitted from the fantasy £80,000 contract. ESW Exports (UK) Ltd was established on 16th August 2012. It was struck off on 21st October 2014 for non-compliance – no annual returns of accounts were filed.  

In 2012 Gamble did make contact with a number of English sparkling wine producers. One of them – Sam Lindo of the excellent Camel Valley  – was not impressed:

'I have only come across these guys from them enquiring about exporting our wine.  They sound like a bunch of nutters. I told them their website made them look like a con, it showed a total lack of knowledge of our industry, in particular how small it is. The chap missed the joke I made about only using Western Union money transfers.
Some of these people can be genuine, we make everyone pay up front for the first 2 orders and this stops any chancers.'  
Good to go: 
On 9th August 2012 Gamble emailed a number of English sparkling wine producers claiming to have 'importers/agents in the major citys (sic) in China and India' and that 'Myself and my newly formed export company ESW Exports Ltd are taking English sparkling wine to the other side of the planet'.

'Hi Guys,
As your more than likely aware, English sparkling wine has a reputation rarely surpassed.  In fact so popular is the wine of our fair land that overseas they cant get enough actually they cant get any, Myself and my newly formed export company ESW Exports LTD are taking English sparkling wine to the other side of the planet..
With a handful of importers/agents in the major citys in China and India good to go all we need is the wine..
So I write this email in hope that we can spread the word with gusto, we would look to purchase at least 100 cases of sparkling wine in various forms from as many vineyards as possible, of course if the wines are award winning in some way then all the better..
All monies for your wines will of course be paid up front and we would look to build from there..
Feel free to get in contact with myself on the number below or reply to this email at your earliest convenience..
Many Thanks
Barry Gamble'

Gamble's claim of 'importers/agents' in China and India is also likely to have been a complete fantasy. Interestingly no mention here of a Canadian importer....

Shortly before Gamble was made bankrupt at Croydon Court, he made an offer of settlement, which included a demand for £3000 to cover his legal costs. Gamble never received a penny. Once a liquidator was appointed in respect of Gamble's personal bankruptcy, they discontinued the legal action since bankrupt Gamble was not in a position to pursue this case.   




Thursday, 29 December 2016

Glen Banchor – Newtonmore: fading light

A late walk up a section of Glen Banchor this afternoon with the light fading on the way back. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Jacky Blot – first 5-star Loire producer but irony of ironies no mention of Vouvray!

 Jacky Blot in the Clos de Venise,
Vin de France Vouvray

Leaving aside the weather conditions in the Loire during 2017, which I hope will be much more benevolent than 2016, I have little optimism for 2017 as I fear we will be living with the consequences of 2016. 

However, during 2017 I would love to see the nonsense of François Chidaine and Jacky Blot being denied the Vouvray appellation because they vinifiy in their facilities in Montlouis. The legislation appears to be clear – Montlouis is a neighbouring commune to Vouvray, so the law permits producers to vinify in a neighbouring commune, especially as the limits of the commune of Vouvray traverses the Loire directly touching Montlouis on the south side. 

Here is a brief report from La Nouvelle République on Jacky Blot becoming the first Loire producer to achieve five stars in the prestigious Bettane et Desseauve guide. No mention of Vouvray in the report – a consequence of Jacky's Vouvrays being labelled as Vin de France

In English we have an expression 'cutting off your nose to spite your face' – entirely appropriate here!      


'Cinq étoiles au milieu d'une année noire

Au top. Vigneron audacieux au profil atypique, Jacky Blot a décroché le Graal au mois de septembre en se voyant décerner une cinquième étoile – la distinction suprême – par le guide du vin Bettane et Desseauve, la « bible » des amateurs de grands crus. Le producteur de Montlouis, qui possède également un domaine dans le Bourgueillois, est ainsi le premier vigneron tourangeau à faire son entrée dans le Gotha de la viticulture française, parmi les Petrus, Margaux, Romanée-Conti, Yquem ou Bollinger. Belle consécration pour cet ancien militaire devenu négociant en vin, avant de cultiver ses premiers arpents de vignes en 1988.

La Nouvelle République 28th December 2016 

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Newtonmore: calm after Barbara and Conor leave

 CRM's Liv Obsess

 CRM off for a first proper spin on the Obsess

Today was the first time we have had a chance to get out on our bikes since we arrived in Newtonmore last Tuesday. First I was ill with a possible Norwegian virus picked up in Lisbon – a circular virus that appeared to get better and then only to return with a fresh virulence. It has taken a course of antibiotics and some steroids to knock it on the head. I'm rather impressed with the steroids and can see now why cyclists and other athletes taken then. Thinking I may have to go for a permanent prescription!

By the time I was recovering, storms Barbara and Conor, in particular, passed through bringing a considerable fall of snow yesterday, which has now largely disappeared and the wind has dropped. Time then to get on the bikes to enjoy today's good if cold weather. Fortunately the forecast is good for the rest of the week so a chance to get more rides in and start getting fit again.

Surely time to plan another charity ride in 2017. 

Fading light after a fine winter day

Monday, 26 December 2016

New Zealand memories (part 1)

Man of War Vineyards,  Waiheke Island 
Rippon Vineyard, Central Otago
In November 2007 the Circle of Wine Writers made two week trip to the vineyards and wineries of New Zealand. Apart from getting ourselves there the trip was very generously sponsored by the New Zealand Winegrowers.
It proved to be an amazing trip starting in Auckland towards the top of North Island and finishing in Otago before a final evening at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in Christchurch. Unfortunately in terms of reciprocal coverage this trip came a year or two too early before the widespread adoption of blogs, Facebook and Twitter meaning that our visit to New Zealand didn't get the exposure it really deserved. For instance, I didn't launch my Jim's Loire blog for another nine months – end of August 2008.
Time, then, for some pictorial memories. First up – North Island:
Timo Jokinen (CWW) with Milan Brajkovich (Kumea River)
missionHistoric Mission Estate, Hawkes Bay  
established in 1851 
john-buckJohn Buck, Te Mata, Hawkes Bay  
Tim Turvey, Clearview, Hawkes Bay 
vineyardhawkes-bayA Hawkes Bay vineyard
john-hancockJohn Hancock, Trinity Hill, Hawkes Bay
Martinborough – Larry McKenna's Escarpment Vineyard 
jamilltonbsJames and Annie Millton, Millton Vineyard, Gisborne
New Zealand's Chenin Blanc champion – long-time biodynamic producer

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A portable Christmas

1970 Vintage Port, Taylor's 

An excellent way to finish off a very good traditional Christmas dinner – a glass or two of Taylor's 1970 vintage Port. Still youthful and vibrant with delicious soft cherry fruit and now very well integrated fruit.  

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas everyone! Joyeux Noël ! Small selection of Loire fizz to assist in celebrations

 Crémant de Loire, Brut Zéro, Château de l'Aulée

 Triple Zéro, AC Montlouis, Jacky Blot 

 Crémant de Loire Rosé, Lamé Delisle Boucard 

 Miss Eugénie, Méthode Traditionnelle, Extra Brut, Grolleau Gris 
Domaine des Herbauges
(above and below)

Friday, 23 December 2016

Neighbourhood Christmas soirée de la modération

2015 Goutte de Rosé, Chinon, Domaine de la Noblaie

Last Sunday we had a pre-Christmas celebration meal with some of our neighbours. Opting out of fizz, we chose to kick off with Jérôme Billard's excellent 2015 Goutte de Rosé (100% Cabernet Franc) – a fine combination of fruit texture and freshness. One important reason that Jérôme's Rosé is so good is that he sets aside specific sectors of vines for his rosé – young vines and vines on lower slopes where the fruit often will not be quite ripe enough to make good red Chinon.

12 YO Amontillado, Sainsbury's Taste the Difference  
From Emilio Lustau
(above and below)

With mushroom soup, made from a variety of different mushrooms and vaguely following an Elizabeth David recipe which uses bread as a thickener, we served some 12 YO Amontillado Taste the Difference from Emilio Lustau

2010 Cuvée Prestige, Bourgueil, Lamé Delisle Boucard  
(above and below)

Main course was slow roasted leg of lamb – sourced from the excellent Billings in Sydenham's High Street. Using a herb, mustard, anchovy, garlic crust with a dash soy sauce the lamb was roasted for a little over three hours. The meat remained succulent and wonderfully tendered.

2010 Cuvée Prestige Bourgueil from Lamé Delisle Boucard has proved to be fatally delicious – so delicious that supplies are fast running out. 2010 is a fine red vintage Loire Cabernet Franc and this was a fine match with the gently roasted lamb. Will be sending Lamé an SOS for more supplies!

We followed that with the impressively softly structured 2013 Syrah made by John Hancock of Trinity Hill in Hawkes Bay, North Island, New Zealand. More evidence that Syrah is well adapted to Hawkes Bay. This was one of a selection of New Zealand wines from The Wine Society.   

John Hancock, Trinity Hill

2012 Majorum, Pouilly-Fumé, Michel Redde et Fils

With a small selection of UK cheeses we offer a choice of continuing with the Trinity Hill Syrah or changing colour and opting for the 2012 Majorum, Pouilly-Fumé from Michel Redde et Fils. One of our guests, who was dubious about white wine with cheese, was converting on trying this well balanced and mineral 2012 Majorum with some raw milk Caerphilly and Montgomery Cheddar.    

1967 Château Fayau, Cadillac  

With CRM's fine bread pudding we thought it was time and appropriate to try this 1967 Château Fayau AC Cadillac – a sweet wine appellation on the north bank of the Garonne across from Barsac-Sauternes. We must have bought this some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s – probably in London though it might have been in France. Mid to deep gold colour, this has delicate, attractive sweetness with some evolution but showing no oxidation. It does, however, lack the complexity one would expect from a good Barsac or Sauternes from this vintage.   

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Newtonmore: snow on the hills/mountains – waiting for Barbara

 Window on snowy hills/mountains – Creag Dubh

Next snow storm on its way

Storm Barbara has been forecast for tomorrow. No strong winds so far but snow early in the morning with some showers over the rest of the day. Have to see what Barbara brings us.....  

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Apologies – no posts 20th and 21st December

Apologies that there have been no posts yesterday or today

– Jim is unwell.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow.  

Monday, 19 December 2016

2014 Cuvée Prestige Château de la Bourdinière (Famille Lieubeau) – another fine Muscadet

2014 Cuvée Prestige, AOP Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie
Château de la Bourdinière

Yet another example of a fine Muscadet and another example from the impressive Lieubeau stable. From old vines planted in Château Thebaud on granite followed by 12 months sur lie
This vibrant, racy wine with good texture, balance and length was ideal with baked fresh haddock with a egg, anchovy, parsley white sauce – good comfort food for the dog days of December! 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Historic Herne Hill Velodrome: The Big Finish – raising 100K to fit out new pavilion

Update 23rd December 2016 – final push
With just over 24 hours to go before the deadline 24th December 2016 at 12.00pm the total raised has now risen to £86,690. So just a few more hours to push the towards to £100,000 target.

The new pavilion at Herne Hill
(above and below)

For the first time in many years I dropped into the Herne Hill Velodrome on Burbage Road, London SE24. 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s we used to go to watch the Good Friday meetings at the Velodrome. I dropped in today to see how the renovation of the velodrome is going and to see the new pavilion. It was through Twitter that I heard that the Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome are using Crowdfunder to raise enough money to kit out the new pavilion. Their initial target was £75,000, which they raised in less than a week, so they decided to extend it to £100,000. 

This new target is proving to be less of a sprint more of a grind. However, the total has moved onto £83,850 with six days left to go. 12pm on 24th December is the deadline. 

It would be great to see them hit the 100K!  

From the Crowdfunder site

'New stretch target

Big Finish?
Flippin’ enormous finish! We smashed it; obliterated the 75K target in less than a week. That was absolutely amazing and a massive thanks to all who pledged. You truly did your bit to fit out the new pavilion. You played a crucial part in calling Herne Hill Velodrome….(gulp, we’re going to say it)….saved.

So what next?Well, we did have a stretch target, a bigger figure we didn’t dare put down first: £100,000. What do you reckon?

There’s plenty more we could pay for. Inner track fencing, MTB trails, PA system. The list is extensive and it all feeds in to our ultimate goal: to make Herne Hill Velodrome an inclusive cycling centre for for all kinds of cyclists. So what do you say?  Push on until Christmas? See how far we can get?

Ladies and gentlemen, this race is now an ‘unknown distance’: How much will we make by midday on the 24th?

We did pretty well in that last sprint. Now back on the drops, we’re pressing on.  

We’re racing towards:
An Unbelievable Finish!'

Artist's impression of the new pavilion

 Keep Gate Shut......

 The finishing line 

Update 23rd December 2016 – final push
With just over 24 hours to go before the deadline 24th December 2016 at 12.00pm the total raised has now risen to £86,690. So just a few more hours to push the towards to £100,000 target.