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

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Raising money to combat Parkinson's – Pauillac – La Livinière

Château Lafite (Pauillac): the planned start of our ride

Cru La Lavinière, Minervois 

 Fergus' and Trevor Gulliver's 
vines high in the hills of the Minervois  

It has been three years since Carole Macintyre and I did a charity bike ride, so clearly time to put that right! Back in 2013 Carole rode from John O'Groats to Kinnesswood, the home of her niece who died of a brain tumour aged just 18. Carole rode to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and I followed the next year riding the entire course of the Lore (over 1000 kilometres) from the source to the Atlantic Ocean. 

This time we will ride across Southern France from one cru – Pauillac in the Médoc – to another La Lavinière, the top site in the Minervois to raise money for Parkinson's UK. We are very pleased that Max Poynter Hall of St John will be joining us for the stage to Fronton.

We are delighted that our friend Lynda will be supporting us throughout our journey from Pauillac to La Lavinière.

If anyone else fancies the ride from Pauillac to La Lavinière or part of it to raise money for Parkinson's please contact me on 

Please help us to fight Parkinson's by visiting our fund raising page here.   

Why Parkinson's? 

Fergus Henderson cooking  
at last year's Fête du Vin


will be joining us on one of the stages  

Fergus Henderson, co-owner and head chef at St John Restaurant, is the most immediate inspiration for our ride. Fergus has had Parkinson's for a number of years now. Last year Carole and I were invited to Fergus' and Trevor Gulliver's, his business partner's, annual fête du vins in La Lavinière (Minervois) where they have vineyards high up in the hills and a winery in the centre of the village. 

Fergus and Trevor's 2016 fête du vins was memorable, so we decided that we should make an effort to raise some money to help to combat Parkinson's, such a cruel disease. We will start from Pauillac on Monday 12th June and plan to arrive in La Lavinière on Friday 16th June, on the eve of the 2017 Fête.  

We will also be riding in memory of Ivor Morris, keen racing cyclist and founder of the London Fire Brigade Cycling Club. Ivor died in early January 2008 aged 80 having long suffered from Parkinson's.

It was Ivor, whose enthusiasm got us into time trialing in the late 1970's and early 1980s. We met Ivor when he was working as an assistant school keeper during the Fire Brigade strike of November 1977 - January 1978.

A few months before he died Ivor saw the 2007 Tour de France pass through Goudhurst, an early sign that cycling was become a major sport in the UK. Sadly he died before Mark Cavendish's first TDF stage victory and Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome's wins in the Tour. He would have been proud and delighted by this and the explosion of cycling in the London.   

Please help us to fight Parkinson's by visiting our fund raising page here  

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Trio of very recently enjoyed Loire wines

 2012 Oriane, Sancerre Rouge, Gérard Boulay

2015 Fief Guérin, Vieilles Vignes, 
Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, Jérôme Choblet

 2014 La Haute Olive, Chinon,
Pierre & Bertrand Couly

Three attractive Loire wines – two reds and a white – drunk yesterday and today.

Gérard Boulay makes brilliant Sancerre Blanc. His red Sancerre, although well made and very enjoyable to drink, is not at the same height as his whites and doesn't have the same ambition. His 2012 is a juicy, easy drinking Pinot Noir with charm but not at the same level as top Sancerre reds. Certainly a vin des copains

This – 2015 Fief Guérin, Vieilles Vignes, Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, Jérôme Chobletis a very good example of how good many Muscadets are today. It has lovely rich fruit and texture. Not a style of Muscadet to try to match with shellfish, rather with fine fishes. Would also work with roast chicken. 

The 2014 La Haute Olive, Chinon, Pierre & Bertrand Couly comes from a well known vineyard on the clay limestone coteaux in the commune of Chinon. It has attractively soft cherry fruit and is a pleasure to drink now, although given that it comes from the coteaux I would have expected more structure and concentration.



Friday, 28 April 2017

Garden Bridge: B. Johnson 0 Sadiq Khan + Londoners 6

 Some 30 plus trees that would have 
been cut down to make away for Johnson 
and Lumley's vanity project

Great news: Today Sadiq Khan refused to underwrite the maintenance costs of Boris Johnson's Garden Bridge Folly. Hopefully his decision will have effectively killed off this ludicrous and expensive folly that has wasted at least £43 million of taxpayers money with absolutely nothing to show for all this expense. 

Sadiq Khan now should hold a proper inquiry into how this happened and what lessons can be learned.  

28.4.17: Breaking news – Sadiq Khan refuses to 
give guarantees to underwrite the maintenance 
(above and below)

From one of the threatened trees looking across the 
Thames where the Garden Folly would have gone

Spare trees looking good with 
their fresh young Spring growth

Ampelidae vente aux encheres: 30th April 2017 + Portes Ouvertes: 29th/30th April

Ampelidae's annual auction is on Sunday 30th April starting at noon. Also Portes Ouvertes Saturday and Sunday for this large domaine near to Poitiers. 

Details of the auction here. Auction is to raise money for a local school.

Some of the designs selected for this year

Thursday, 27 April 2017

April 2017 – frost in the Loire: Vincent Caillé (Muscadet) sums it up

For the second successive year the Loire has been hit by a series of late April frosts. It is still too early to be precise about the scale of the damage. Unfortunately producers may face another potential frost early tomorrow morning, although Méteo France suggests otherwise.

There will be time in a later post to report more fully on the effects of these frosts. For the moment Vincent Caillé's Facebook post sums it up perfectly!

My thoughts are with producers in the Loire, Bordeaux, part of Germany – indeed anywhere threatened by the frosts. 

Vincent Caillé during the 2013 vintage
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

Vincent with Christelle Guibert pruning
in Terre d'Gneiss: February 2017

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

2017 Decanter World Wine Awards @Excel – some photos

 Judges' transport to and from 
DLR Prince Regent station

This year the Decanter World Wine Awards, with some 17,200 entries in 2017, has a new home at CentrEd in the Excel Exhibition Complex. This is all part of the DWWA's gradual move eastwards. When it started it was in Parson's Green just off the King's Road. Then it moved to Wapping and now this year it is close to London City Airport by the Royal Victoria Dock. 

Royal Victoria Dock and the old Spillers building

The Royal Victoria Dock
looking towards Canary Wharf

 Chris Bates 

Chris Kissack

 Colin Thorne

 Michael Hill-Smith
 Liz Gabay
 Gérard Basset

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Margaux connects with Marylebone – Clarette in Blandford Street

 Clarette in Blandford Street
(above and below)

This evening a number of us from the Decanter World Wine Awards judging along with members of staff from Decanter and Neil Beckett of The World of Fine Wine were invited to the soft launch of Clarette at 44 Blandford Street, London W1U 7HS. 

This is a new wine bar project set up in a former pub by Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos, the youngest daughter of the owner of Château Margaux, and her business partner – Perromat du Marais. They are assisted by Thibaut Pontallier, son of the late Paul Pontallier, long time managing director of Château Margaux.    

 Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos

 Thibault Pontallier 

Poh Tiong of The Wine Review (Singapore)
at the launch studying the wine list

More on this story here and here.    

44 Blandford St, Marylebone, London W1U 7HS 

Phone: 020-3019 7750 
Website: is under development.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Clos Rougeard – a brief update

The late Charly Foucault 
during the 2011 harvest 
checking the flow of Cabernet Franc

I understand that the domaine is now definitely up for sale with the required notice has been lodged with the Mairie de Chacé. It is understood that the price may be as high as 8 million euros, as there are several years of stock. The price means that the buyer will be someone like Martin Bouygues, who has been frequently cited as the favourite to purchase Clos Rougeard. 

It remains to be seen whether any of the Foucaults will have any involvement in the domaine once it is sold. It was the late Charly Foucault who made the wine, rather than his brother Nady who is now retiring. Antoine Foucault, Charley's son, made the 2016 vintage.

It could well make sense for any purchaser to retain a link with the Foucaults as it was their skills, knowledge and personalities that made their wines special and latterly in such high demand. After all, for instance, Les Poyeux covers 15 hectares and there are a number of good vignerons who have parcels of vines here and none of them have the renown of the Foucaults nor do their wines achieve anything like the same price. 

Nady Foucault at the 2010 harvest

Sunday, 23 April 2017

London Marathon – 23rd April 2017

Woolwich Common – the race approaches 

I spent part of today watching some of the London Marathon in particular with the idea of supporting a friend who was running. My plan was to watch the race early on and then head to Surrey Quays and Canada Water. The first part worked perfectly as I got to Woolwich Common just in time to see the passage of the Elite Men. 

There was also plenty of space so that it was easy to applaud the runners and encourage individuals. However, such was the density of runners, that I completely missed my friend.  

The pack of Elite Men 

 Not quite so fast but still speedy – above and below 

It was noticeable that even at the two mile mark there were some participants who were already getting very tired. Wonder how much training some of these stragglers had actually done.  

Further into the race: 

Surrey Quays – the crowds get thicker 

Jamaica Road – crowds four and five deep.
Impossible to watch while holding a bike 
so I headed home

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Loire Millésime: 19th-22nd April 2017 – musicians @Ackerman Cellars

Musicians – poles apart

On Thursday night we had an enjoyabe evening in the cellars of Ackerman in Saint-Hilaire Saint-Florent. We were fortunate to have talented musicians throughout the evening.   

 Mr Sax – a series 
(above and below)

The Trio

Duo picking up shards of a broken glass

The Band of Medics