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

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The 2017 Real Wine Fair: 7th and 8th May @Tobacco Dock

Both The Real Wine Fair and RAW Wine Fair (Sunday 12th & Monday 13th March at The Store, 180 The Strand) are certainly recommended. They are a great opportunity to meet and taste with a range of very interesting wine producers. A separate post on RAW will follow very shortly.

Some details: 

'The Real Wine Fair is returning to Tobacco Dock on Sunday 7th & Monday 8th* May, 2017 from 10am to 6pm

“The Real Wine Fair” is a two day wine event celebrating artisan growers who work with minimal intervention in the vineyard and the winery.

Over 150 growers and winemakers will be pouring and presenting their wines to consumers, wine trade professionals and members of the press.

In addition to the extensive range of wines, The Fair will also feature an array of artisan food producers, an on-site shop and a series of seminars and masterclasses on themes surrounding natural wine.

The first day of The Fair will be open to consumers and trade. Consumer tickets will be available for £20 in advance or £25 on the door. *The second day will be open for trade professionals and press only.

We look forward to seeing you there!'


Monday, 27 February 2017

A journey to precision: vertical of Closel's Clos du Papillon

Evelyne de Pontbriand tutoring the vertical tasting 
Tasters in the magnificent surroundings of the Château des Vaults
(Domaine du Domaine de Closel)
On the evening of Monday 6th February – the second day of the 2017 Salon des Vins de Loire – we were invited to a vertical tasting of the Domaine du Closel's Clos du Papillon. The vertical ran from 2001 through to 2015 but without 2012 as none was made due to frost. We tasted from oldest to youngest, which made perfect sense as we could see the evolution in the purity and precision in the wines. At the end we were treated to two older bottles – 1992, which was not a very auspicious vintage, and 1989, which was a great vintage.
2001 was the first vintage that Evelyne took over from her mother –Michèle Bazin de Jessey. The Clos du Papillon overlooks the small village of Savennières sited just to the north.
Although the vineyards were grassed over when Evelyne took over  over, the vineyards were farmed and the wine made in a traditional manner. The wines tended to have a short fermentation and be given high doses of SO2. The period of fermentation has been extended and the vinification is now down in 400-litre barrels when before it was done in vat. Using cover crops.
Since 2001 Evelyne has taken from being traditional to firstly organic and now to being farmed biodynamically.  Conversion to organic viticulture began in 2006 with full certification in 2009, while biodynamic status was achieved in 2015. 
Yields have been reduced from 35/40 hl/ha down to 15-20hl/ha today. From 2009 using a software system to analyse the right time to pick the grapes. 
The vertical:
Light golden colour, honey and truffle, some texture but a little short.
Light to mid-gold, clearly taken on a lot of colour, honeyed evolved flavours, rich with fair balance. Loire wines from 2002 tend to be well-balanced. 6.4 gms of residual sugar. Among my favourites.
Honey and quince, rich but less interesting than the 2002 – an effect of this heatwave year?

Delicate honey aromas, attractively finely textured wine although a little dilute in the finish but considerable charm. 
Deep light gold colour, richly textured, botrytis – this is a rich oxidative style.
Hot dry summer and autumn.

Light gold colour, attractively textured wine with honeyed evolution, good length and nicely balanced. Among my favourites.
Light gold, honey and quince flavour with a touch of caramel, textured wine, the richness hides the acidity but the finish is a little short. 
Vineyard frosted. Honey and quince on nose and palate,some truffle too, texture, quite austere long finish. Aromas persist in the empty glass.Among my favourites.
Clean and precise with attractively vibrant texture, some honey character, noticeable acidity in long finish. There is a growing precision in the Papillon wines.  
 Richly and seductively textured with honey and quince character, lovely balance and length. Certainly amongst my favourites.
Still youthful wine, attractive texture and complexity, some toasty flavours along with a touch of caramel with good balancing acidity in the finish.   
Not made – severe April frost

Citric aromas and palate, quite austere finish reflecting this difficult vintage, precise but the wine falls away in the finish.

Floral and ripe fruit nose and palate, some barley sugar notes, very good length and very clean purity with some delicate wood notes. Still young but with impressive potential. Certainly amongst my favourites and shows the progress that has been made with the Papillon wines. 
Floral and citric – obviously still very youthful.
The two additional vintages:
This was a big vintage after the very severe frost of 1991. Wines were often dilute. Light gold, very oxidative style, nutty character but dilute in fish. Certainly reasonable for the vintage.
Showing the hallmarks of a great vintage. Ironically this wine shows the precision and vibrancy that Evelyne has to working for since she took over Closel. There is a little oxidative character but it is very restrained. Amazinly fresh – stunning wine! 
Many thanks to Evelyne and her team at Closel for a fascinating and most instructive tasting.

Ben Llewelyn of Carte Blanche Wines studying 
a carte of the vineyards of Savennières

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cycling in London: Close Pass Volkswagen Passat + Deliveroo Insanity

On Thursday I experienced two contrasting cycling incidents in London: the first involving a very close pass on the South Circular Road just by the Horniman Museum, while the second involved lunatic behaviour by a Deliveroo cyclist.

Passat close pass
Around 7.45 on Thursday morning I was walking down the South Circular to Forest Hill Station I saw two cyclists wearing high-visibility following each up the hill, which has two lanes one of them a bus lane. I was amazed to see a Passat pull across to the left into the bus lane. The driver must have seen the two cyclists but was determined to pass some of traffic to turn left into Sydenham Rise. This meant squeezing between the right hand lane traffic and the first cyclist, passing just inches away. 

An example of utterly thoughtless driving putting the cyclist into danger. I hope that the excellent West Midland Police Close Pass Initiative will be rolled out across the UK. Less to penalise drivers but to educate them that when passing cyclists they should make sure to give them plenty of space. 

Given that air pollution in London has recently shot up the political agenda, it surely makes sense to persuade people to make as many journeys on a bike or on foot as is practically possible. Close passing is a very significant factor in putting people of cycling. 

It doesn't help, of course, that some unsegregated 'cycle lanes' are ridiculously narrow and may encourage drivers to think that it is safe to pass close to cyclists.    

Deliveroo Lunacy – no back light
Later on Thursday early evening – just before 6pm returning to Forest Hill on a bus headed down the Walworth Road I watched a Deliveroo cyclist heading southwards. Dark clothes and no back light. I was unable to see whether he had a front light but it is probably safe to assume he didn't that as he had decided to dispense with a back light. 
Not only no back light but the Deliveroo rider rode straight through the red light at the junction with East Street. Just the sort of stupid behaviour that not only endangers the cyclist but equally important gives cyclists a bad name and builds antagonism that may well then encourage drivers to be thoughtless when sharing the road with cyclists. 

What I wonder are Deliveroo's policies regarding cycle lights and respecting red lights?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Vistas of London + Ring for Wine

 From Forest Hill to the centre of London. 
Contrast between the green space of South London 
and the crowded polluted City of London 

Some five-a-day candidates

Indispensable gadget for early Friday evening

Thursday, 23 February 2017

2005 Pétillant Vouvray to celebrate 30 years in Epeigné-les-Bois

 2005 Brut Vouvray Pétillant, Domaine Huet

Yesterday we celebrated the 30th anniversary of having first visited our house in Epeigné-les-Bois. Thirty years since one cold Sunday morning (22nd February 1987) with snow on the ground we looked round the house in virtual darkness. The house had been up for sale for some 18 months and the electricity had been turned off. The wooden windows had swelled, so it was impossible to open them and so therefore not possible to open the shutters. Eight of us saw the ground floor of the house with the benefit of just one torch.

The 2005 Vouvray Pétillant was a very appropriate wine for this celebration. Not only is it a very fine example of a Pétillant, a local Touraine speciality but our company is called SCI Les Huîtres Pétillantes – the sparkling oysters. 

2005 was two years after the Hwang family bought Domaine Huet following the death of Gaston Huet in 2002 aged 92. In those days Noël Pinguet had a great relationship with Anthony Hwang. 

 Epeigné-les-Bois: The Mairie and the Salle des Fêtes

Parts of the village – above and below

 Noël Pinguet (above) and Anthony Hwang (below) during the 2010 vintage


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Back in London and ready for Muscadet crus....

Back in London late this afternoon having spent a good month or so in France mainly in the Loire. Back for a big tasting of Muscadet Crus at the offices of Decanter all tomorrow and also on Friday morning. 

We will be tasting not just the three officially recognised Muscadet Crus – Clisson, Gorges and le Pallet but also the four more: Château-Thebaud Goulaine, Monnières-Saint-Fiacre and Mouzillon-Tillière as well as other Muscadets made in the spirit of the cru communaux – long aging on the lees. 

I understand that the producers in the Pays Nantais have sent in a very generous number of samples including some old vintages. Naturally the tasting will be strictly blind and I am looking forward to it with keen anticipation.      

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Loire producers @2017 Millésime Bio + brief comments (Part 1)

Jean-Jacques Bonnet, Domaine Bonnet-Huteau, 
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 
Makers of fine Muscadet 

Rémi Bonnet (below)

Thomas Carsin, Clos de l'Élu, Saint Aubin de Luigné, Anjou
Excellent Chenins 

Xavier Cailleau, Château Bois-Brinçon, Anjou
Good range of Anjou

Fred Niger, Domaine de l'Ecu, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 
The great experimenter
Philippe Vatan, Château de Hureau
Saumur and Saumur Champigny 
has long made a good range of Chenins and Cabernet Francs

Laura Semeria, Domaine de Montcy, 
Laura started in 2007
Sadly has been hit a number of times by frost 

Denis Jamain, Domaine de Reuilly
Excellent white and red Reuilly

Benoît Landron, Domaine Landon Chartier
Muscadet Coteaux du Loire  
Good Muscadet's including potential 
future cru Champtoceaux

 Some of the range of wines from Domaine Landon Chartier,
which is in the commune of Ligné on north side of the Loire 
between Ancenis and Nantes 


Monday, 20 February 2017

2017 VitiLoire – Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th May

5 spots incontournables pour les wine lover 
Press release: 

'À seulement 1 heure de Paris, VitiLoire est la plus grande manifestation gratuite et grand public autour des 79 appellations des vins du Val de Loire, 1er vignoble oenotouristique de France. Le temps d’un week-end prolongé, c’est également l’occasion de découvrir Tours, Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie, les bars à vins, les restos, les meilleurs cavistes de la ville et de vivre des expériences inédites dans le vignoble !


Gastronomie, vins, patrimoine, culture : Tours remet le couvert avec la 15e édition de Vitiloire ! Avec ses grandes tablées conviviales et sa ribambelle de petits kiosques d’artisans locaux et de producteurs viticoles, VitiLoire est un événement 100 % locavore. C’est aussi le meilleur moyen pour goûter les grandes appellations de la région, telles que Sancerre, Vouvray, Chinon et de commander ses bouteilles directement auprès de petits vignerons. Du bar à vins qui invite les amateurs à voyager dans le temps grâce à une sélection de millésimes aux ateliers de dégustation pour s’initier aux vins du Val de Loire et comprendre leur processus de fabrication, VitiLoire est un vrai rendez-vous pour les amateurs ou dégustateurs avertis. 
VitiLoire 2017 // Samedi 27 de 10h à 19h et dimanche 28 mai de 10h à 18h

3 560 m2 d’exposition à ciel ouvert en plein centre-ville
• 79 AOC du Val de Loire
• 140 exposants (vignerons, caves coopératives et négociants du Val de Loire, artisans des métiers de bouche, services) • 10 chefs cuisiniers Tourangeaux
• Fréquentation 2016 : 35 000 visiteurs
• Entrée libre
• 5 € le verre collector pour déguster les vins
• Nombreux services : livraisons, grooms, garderie d’enfants
• Horaires : samedi de 10h à 19h, dimanche de 10h à 18h
Lieux : Place de la Gare, Boulevard Heurteloup, Jardin de la Préfecture

Bar à vin/resto/caviste : le vin dans tous ses états

Verre d’A.O.P Touraine sur la Place Plum’ ou à la Guiguette de Tours sur Loire à l’heure de l’apéro, bars à vins, cavistes : Tours égrène intra-muros une multitude de bonnes adresses. Avec sa déco trendy, son épicerie et sa jolie cour privative, La Réserve comble tous les goûts avec une carte des vins riche de 70 références qui font voyager les palais dans tous les vignobles de France. Authentique par nature, La Cave sur la Place tire son épingle du jeu avec une sélection de vins en bio, biodynamie et nature. Côté agapes, le QG est un nouveau restaurant artisanal qui prône les circuits courts et les produits frais avec une belle sélection de vins au verre à partir de 5€. La Réserve // 84 rue Colbert - La Cave sur la Place // Place Velpeau - Le QG // 9, place du Grand-Marché, formule déjeuner à 21€

Segway© dans les vignes

Ecologique, silencieux et insolite, le segway s’aventure désormais au coeur des différentes A.O.C des Vins de Loire. Balades de 1h30 ou 2h avec ou sans dégustation de Vins de Loire, la société Gyroway propose plusieurs randos-vignes en gyropode au départ d’une cave partenaire à destination de Chinon, Touraine, Bourgueil, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, Vouvray, MontLouis ou Saumur Champigny.

Gyroway // Balade de 2h - 49€ pour les adultes / 39€ pour les moins de 16 ans

Nuit dans un domaine viticole

Propriété viticole en pleine nature, le Château de Fontenay, producteur en A.O.C Touraine à Bléré, propose 4 chambres d’hôtes avec vue sur le Cher et 12 hectares de vignes. Le lieu parfait pour se reposer, méditer et se ressourcer à l’ombre des des glycines...
Le + : certains éléments de la déco du château proposés à la vente !

A partir de 99€ la nuit pour 2 personnes

Randos dans le vignoble

Organisées par le service Archives et Patrimoine de la Ville de Tours et encadrées par le Comité Départemental de Randonnée Pédestre d’Indre-et-Loire et l’Of ce de Tourisme de Tours, VitiLoire propose 3 circuits pédestres thématiques à la découverte du patrimoine viticole et gastronomique de Tours ainsi qu’une grande randonnée à Vélo de 3 heures. Vigne, Loire et Littérature // samedi 27 - Une balade de 6,5 km qui permet de découvrir le passé viticole de Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, terre de nombreux écrivains tels que Balzac, Anatole France ou encore Tocqueville. 

Vigne en ville // dimanche 28 - Une balade de 8,4 km qui relie VitiLoire au domaine viticole du Clos de Rougemont.
Cité de la Gastronomie // samedi 27 - Un parcours urbain de 4 km pour découvrir les spécialités culinaires de la ville autour des Halles de Tours. 

Histoire et Paysages du Vouvray - dimanche 28 - Randonnée cycliste de 25 km immerge les visiteurs en plein coeur des vignobles de Vouvray...'

Scenes from previous editions: