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, 30 September 2016

2016 Loire vintage – une année compliquée ! (Part 1) – pics from Vouvray

 Michel Autran (Noizay) – among the first Chenin Blanc 
grapes to be picked in AC Vouvray 
These were picked early because of the threat of rot 

First pressings

 Michel's Gamay

 Michel with a student from Fondettes, who has a 14-day 
work experience placement with him 

 Bunches with some tiny berries is apparently a feature this year

Chenin Blanc in the commune of Vouvray 

 Luiz Alberto, founder of #winelover community, 
getting to grips with Vouvray
(above and below)

With Michel we tasted hos two recently bottled 2015s:
Les enfers tranquilles and Ciel Rouge 
– loved the precision and weight of Ciel Rouge

Thursday, 29 September 2016

#2016Loire – the shocking and sad ravages of mildew

In 27 years of covering wines in the Loire these are amongst the most shocking and sad sights that I have seen. On the eve of the vintage nothing here that could be picked. Bunches of Chenin Blanc grapes attacked and destroyed by mildew.

Taken in Montlouis, this is not to say that there are no decent grapes in Montlouis or other appellations but these photos bring me up short.   

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

2016 Loire harvest – brief updates inc Sancerre + Pouilly

The cross above Chavignol 
looking towards Sancerre 

La Loire and Pouilly-sur-Loire

The Ban des Vendanges for Pouilly-Fumé/Pouilly-sur-Loire is on Friday 30th September.

Even though Sancerre is further west, so closer to the Atlantic Ocean, their Ban des Vendanges is a day later – Saturday 1st October.

Elsewhere in the Central Vineyards picking in Quincy and Reuilly started at least a week ago. 

Had time today for a quick VTT (mountain bike – technical term but a considerable misnomer in this part of the Loire) ride through some of the vineyards of Saint-Georges-sur-Cher (Loir-et-Cher) dropping in briefly on Vincent Lacour in in the hamlet of Vrigny.   

Vincent was just finishing his last bin of Sauvignon Blanc. "Our Sauvignon Blanc is very variable this year but it is too soon to know the level of quality."

 Sign in Vrigny for the Vincent Lacour winery

 Pressed Sauvignon Blanc skins

Watching progress 
Vincent's father finishing  
helping to empty the trailer 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Porto + Douro #winelovers – some more pics from 22.9 - 26.9

 The view from Burmester's reception room

After an early flight from Porto to Tours we are now back in the Loire to catch up and take stock of how the 2016 Loire vintage is going. Certainly there is a well established fine spell of weather here forecast to continue for some time, so good conditions for the moment to harvest what is left – sadly small compensation for those hardest hit by frost and mildew. Harvest updates to follow but today a few more pics from Porto and the Douro.  

 Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia: ridiculous photogenic!

 #winelover – Jürgen Schmücking 
and Giannis Krassaki @Burmester
Jürgen Schmücking 

Luiz Alberto: the master blender....

Some seafood at O Gaveto – great seafood restaurant 
in Porto close to the ocean 
2015 contacto – another Alvarinho treat from Anselmo Mendes 

2002 Viña Gravonia from Tondonia 
evidence that it is just Portugal 
that makes good whites on the Iberian Peninsula .....

Dirk Niepoort

2012 Reserva Douro, Duorum 
One of my favourite wines from the Adegga 
mini-wine market on Saturady

Monday, 26 September 2016

#winelover – Port immersion September 2016 – another remarkable Port tasting

The line of Ports going back to VV Niepoort 
based mainly on 1863


Following on from the very good Port tasting we were privileged to enjoy on Friday with Tania Oliveira we had another remarkable Port tasting on Saturday at Niepoort's Quinta de Nápoles, a little upstream on the Douro from Regua. This was brilliantly tutored by Bento Amaral, the director of technical services and certification for the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e do Porto (IVDP)

Before the tasting we had a walk through the vineyards of Nápoles, which counts 115 different grape varieties. We also had the first session of the #winelover 1st Symposium (#IWS16).  

 The line-up of Ports 
Niepoort VV

The tasting (includes climate etc. comments from Bento Amaral)
Bento Amaral commented at the end of the tasting that all of these wines are great, as indeed they were – such a privilege to taste them especially with a fascinating commentary from Bento, who wears his knowledge so lightly and humbly.

Many thanks to André Ribeirinho for organising this tasting and to Dirk Niepoort for hosting the event at Quinta de Nápoles, even though this is the middle of the harvest. In addition he very generously opened some large format bottles over lunch including a stunning demijohn of 1948. 

Ramos Pinto Vintage 1982 
Very dry winter and summer. Mid red colour, cherry nose, soft, cherry texture, still some spirit, split vintage by declaration with some houses opting instead for 1983.

Quinta do Noval 2011 
Classically good year. For some people best year ever - eg Symington.

Youthful purple colour, slightly fishy smell, dense, quite noticeable tannins, but softness there. Length and texture. 'Very extracted Ports'. Main grape varieties used Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz.

Quevedo 30-year-old white tawny Port 
Mid-golden colour, floral, lightly nutty, lovely texture, dried apricot, length and delicacy. Citric notes. Very attractive. Just 1000 bottles produced. 100€ for 50cl bottle.   

Exports of Port from the Douro valley were banned until 8th May 1986. Prior to that all Port had to be exported from Vila Nova do Gaia and, as there was no demand for white Port at the time, growers were left with stocks of white Port, which the Port companies wouldn't buy. Oscar Quededo explained that he and his sister had recently decided to bottle a small quantity of this lovely 30-year-old white Port. 

It was the accession into the EU that forced the change in the Port laws including the right to export which has allowed independent producers like Quevedo to become established in their own right    

Poças Colheita 1976 
Mid-gold a little darker than white Port. Delicate, a little spirit is noticeable, length. Orange peel and charm.

Very dry winter, very hot dry summer. Light rain in September. 23rd September saw the start of harvest.

Vasques de Carvalho 40-year-old tawny 
Considerably deeper colour than 1976. Walnut colour,  spirit and spice on nose, nutty, raisin, quite austere in the finish, lovely length of spice. Very fine.

144 grams residual sugar, 5.92 acidity. Company based in Regua.   

Niepoort Colheita 1957 
Deepening walnut colour, nutty, dried apricot, some raisin character, precision and length, white pepper. Delightful! Bottled 1972. 

Dirk Niepoort is convinced of the potential for tawnies and colheitas to age in bottle whereas many in the Port trade prefer that Tawnies and Colheitas are consumed soon after they are bottled. For this reason these wines are bottled in small batches according to demand.   

Kopke white tawny Port 1935 
Climate: Dry winter, some frost, irregular summer. Split vintage declaration with some houses preferring to declare 1934, whole others plumped for 1935.  

Bento said that the 1935s are keeping better than 1934. 

Mid-walnut colour, similar in colour to Niepoort 1957. Wood spice on nose, quite sweet initially but very soon attractive austerity comes through, citric, orange notes, lovely length of wood spice present. Bottled last week – the opposite policy to that of Dirk.

Niepoort VV 
Very deep gold, spice dominant, wood spice, rich dried apricot character, extraordinary concentration and austerity and length, dried fruits. 999 bottles produced with 1863 main constituent.

VV old vines. Mainly aged in Gaia. Bottled 1972. 1863 was the year phylloxera arrived in the Douro, so this VV is from pre-phylloxera vines. 


Dirk Niepoort

      The remarkable 1948 – what a complex treat!

Harvest in progress at 
Quinta de Nápoles 


Sunday, 25 September 2016

#winelover in the Douro – pics from two great days

 Line up of a remarkable and brilliant tutored tasting 
at the Niepoort quinta in the Douro
(24th September 2016)

Niepoort VV – main constituent 1863 
Very old tawny Port
Demijohn of 1948 Port very generously opened by
Dirk Niepoort for #winelover seminar

 Douro at sunset