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

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

2017 Loire – flowering starting

Vines in AC Touraine above the village 
of Francueil, Indre et Loire 
Not yet flowering but probably not far off

Speaking today to Christophe Daviau (Domaine de Bablut, Brissac-Quincé, Anjou) and Philippe Boucard (Lamé Delisle Boucard, Bourgueil) both confirmed that flowering is now underway in their vineyards. Although not as early as in 2011, the fact that flowering has started before the end of May indicates that the 2017 vintage will be quite early. Philippe estimated that they will be picking their Cabernet Franc around 20th September.
The good news is that the weather for the moment is warm and settled. There will still be the problem of a marked difference in maturity for those badly frosted and who are relying on second generation bunches, which won't flower for some time yet.  

Fingers crossed that the good weather holds!  

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Château de la Botinière

2014 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Château de la Botinière, Vallet

Part of the Castel stable the 2014 was an attractive Muscadet in an apèro style – crisp and mineral with the balance of the 2014 vintage.  Equally it worked well with a simple prawn salad. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

2009 Arbois, La Prieuré, Domaine du Prieurié, Touraine

2009 Arbois, La Prieuré
Domaine du Prieurié
Jean-Marc Gallou

It is rare to come across a 100% Arbois – also called Menu Pineau. According to Wikipedia this white grape variety comes from Touraine and there are around 650 hectares planted – 600 in Loir-et-Cher. A small percentage is allowed in Vouvray but is rarely used. I notice in the Vouvray décret of 8th June 2011 makes no mention of Arbois – need to check whether Arbois is no longer allowed in Vouvray.   

This 2009 Arbois, which is unwooded, was brought out by one of our group on Saturday evening. It was attractively crisp clean and mineral. It certainly wasn't showing its age and clearly would keep for many more years.  

Domaine du Prieuré in
Valaire has been in the hands of the same family since 1720. 

Since 1999 they have also offered chambres d'hôtes.      

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Epeigné-les-Bois – Randonnée + Fête Champêtre: 28th May 2017

Today was Epeigné's annual May time annual randonnée 
– walk or mountain bike 
10 or 17Km walk
25km, 45km, 60km VTT

 Bikes arriving and signing on 
(above and below)

Fête Champêtre with the Eddy Varnel Orchestre

 Lunch (above and below)


(above and below)

Eddy + Betty

Mickael – on keyboards

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Sadly SNCF KO's my visit to VitiLoire

I was looking forward to spending a few hours at VitiLoire in Tours today but unfortunately the SNCF appears to no longer run its train around 9.30am that gets into Tours mainline station about 10am just in time for the start of VitiLoire. 

Instead to get Tours I have to catch a train at around 7.15am with the next departure from Chenonceaux not until after 17.00. Madness!

Instead I decided to put in some miles for our Parkinson Pedallers' ride from Paulillac to La Lavinière in the Minervois – a good two hours or more on the pleasant and quiet Touraine roads. This is such a contrast after the crowded and busy London roads. Here most drivers give you plenty of space when they pass. Unfortunately there are the occasional few who pass too close despite it being very easy to give us a wider berth. 

We will be ride from Pauillac to La Livinière (Minervois) from 12th to 16th June to raise money for Parkinson's disease. Our ride has been inspired by Fergus Henderson, co-owner and chef at St John restaurant in Smithfield, London. Fergis and his business partner – Trevor Gulliver – have a vineyard in the Minervois. They have an annual fête des vins and our ride is tied into this celebration.

We would really appreciate any donation you are able to make to help combat Parkinson's. Many thanks.  


Friday, 26 May 2017

Pique-Nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant: 3rd-5th June 2017

The 2017 edition of this excellent initiative is over the weekend of 3rd - 5th June. It is a simple formula – you provide the picnic and the vigneron will provide the wine. 

Details here of the 60 Loire domaines involved in the picnic. 

'Les 3, 4 et 5 juin prochain,
40 domaines viticoles du Centre Val de Loire
ouvrent leurs portes en plein vignoble
Un moment convivial à partager entre amis ou en famille
Les Vignerons Indépendants ouvrent leurs portes le temps d’un week-end pour faire découvrir leur métier, leurs vignes, leurs chais, leurs caves au cœur des plus beaux paysages du Val de Loire !
Le principe est simple, vous apportez votre pique-nique et le vigneron indépendant vous offre le vin à déguster et vous accueille avec des tables et chaises pour un moment de convivialité garanti.
Des activités pour tous et pour tous les âges
En famille ou entre amis, vous pourrez vous amuser et découvrir l’univers des vignerons d’une manière pédagogique et ludique avec des activités comme  les randonnées dans les vignes, les chasses aux trésors, les ateliers culinaires, les concerts de musique, les balades en calèche dans les vignes ou en barque sur la Loire… et bien d’autres encore ! A chaque personnalité ses animations.
Préparer son week-end Pique-nique, c’est facile !
Un site internet avec un module de recherche par géo-localisation est à votre disposition pour préparer le weekend très facilement, à quelques pas de chez vous ou pour un week-end dans le vignoble.
Plus d’informations sur'

Thursday, 25 May 2017

CIVC's objection to Champagne Jayne's Oz trademark humiliatingly thrown out

'We advise that opposition to the above trademark (Champagne Jayne Logo) has been dismissed by the decision of a Delegate of the Registrar dated 04 April 2017.' Jayne Powell was advised of the decision in a letter dated 17th May 2017 by IP Australia.

This latest humiliation for the CIVC, who attempted to overawe and then bankrupt Jayne, one of Champagne's most ardent supporters, should bring down the curtain on this wretched case which should never have been bought. 

All credit to Jayne for having the fortitude and determination to stand up to the bullying CIVC at huge personal cost.  

I trust that the CIVC will do the decent thing and pay the costs involved. However, I'm not holding my breath..... 

Update – 26th May 2017: Details of of the decision to dismiss CIVC's objection here.  

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

2017 VitiLoire, Tours – 28th & 29th May


The 2017 edition of VitiLoire is on this coming weekend – Saturday 27th and Sunday 29th May – in central Tours. This is the largest consumer Loire wine fair attracting producers (downloadable list here) from the Pays Nantais to Pouilly-Fumé/Coteaux du Giennois. Opening hours on Saturday are from 10.00 to 19.00 and on Sunday 10.00 to 18.00. Entry is free with just a small charge for a glass.
Vitiloire is right in the centre of Tours in front of the Tours mainline station, in the central alley of the Boulevard Heurteloup and the Jardin du Vinci.
As well as tasting wines they can be bought and there are porters that will carry your purchases to your car. Alternatively wines can be sent throughout France from as little as two cartons on six bottles.
There are also various food stalls mainly selling local specialities.
IMG_8464Vincent Simon
VitiLoire also involves 10 local top chefs such as Marie  (La Petite Cuisine, Tours ), Vincent Simon (Cuisinier de Campagne, Ingrandes de Touraine), Florent Martin (Au Martin Bleu, Tours), Olivier Loize, (La Mère Hamard, Semblançay) and Sébastien Leroy (patissier de l'Orangerie de Chenonceau), who give a programme of demonstrations over the two days.
There are guided bike rides, including one to Vouvray, as well as walks.
The first edition was in 2003 and VitiLoire has proved to be a great success. Last year's edition saw around 150 producers and 40,000 visitors over the two days. The weather forecast is for hot sunny weather with highs around 30˚C on both days.
Bruno Curassier, Domaine de la Grange, Touraine
Not a wedding but someone who 
will carry your wine purchases to your car
Catherine Dhoye Deruet, Domaine de la Fontainerie, Vouvray
LunchLunch in the shade
France remains on high alert

Tours mainline station

Monday, 22 May 2017

Parkinson's ride: les étapes, the stages: Monday 12th - Friday 16th June 2017

From one famous cru to another: Pauillac to La Livinière 
Our challenge is to cycle from Pauillac, close to the Atlantic coast, to La Livinière in the Minervois, not very far from Mediterranean – a distance of roughly 500 km, just over 300 miles!
Pauillac is the home of some of the most famous Bordeaux vineyards - Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild. Our destination is La Livinière where we will, hopefully, catch the Boulevard Napoléon Fête du Vin, celebrating the wine of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, co-founders and co-owners of London’s St John Restaurant. The wine is made from their vineyards high up in the hills of the Minervois.
It was at last year’s wonderful Fete du Vin at La Livinière that we came up with the idea of doing a charity ride and Fergus, who has had Parkinson’s since 1998, was the inspiration for selecting Parkinson’s UK as our chosen charity. Fergus is a well-known and highly regarded British chef and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to tail eating, which explains his philosophy and provides some of his innovative recipes that make use of all parts of the animal.

Fergus Henderson 
Les étages/ the stages
Starting/finishing dates:
Monday 12th June to Friday 16th June

Monday 12th June
Stage 1: Pauillac to Sauternes 93.2 kilometres 64 miles (Approx 5h)
Confirmed participants: Carole and Jim
Support: Lynda Maple

Official start: D2 by Château Lafite-Rothschild

Tuesday 13th June
Stage 2: Sauternes to Agen 96 kilometres – 60 miles (Approx 5h)
Confirmed participants: Carole and Jim
Support: Lynda  
  Wednesday 14th June
Stage 3: Agen to Villaudric 94.2 kms  – 59 miles (Approx 5h)
Confirmed participants: Carole, Max Poynter Hall and Jim
Support: Lynda  
 Thursday 15th June
Stage 4: Villaudric to Castelnaudary 112 kms  – 70 miles (Approx 5h)
Confirmed participants: Carole and Jim 
Support: Lynda  
 Friday 16th June
Stage 5a: Castelnaudary to Bram: 17kms (1 hour)
Confirmed participants: Carole and Jim
Support: Lynda  
We would do the short ride from Castelnaudry to Bram to meet up with anyone, who fancies the final 32 kilometre stage to La Lavinière.

Stage 5b:  Bram to La Livinière 51 kms  – 32 miles (Approx 3h)
The final short leg to La Livinière
Confirmed participants: Carole and Jim
Possible participants: Kitty Cooper  + others we hope

Your opportunity to donate to help fight Parkinson's:

(Virgin Giving site – every donation makes a difference!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Shanghai @ night with views across the Huangpu River

 Opened in 1994 the Purple Haze building was the first sizeable one in 
Pudong – extraordinary speed of development 

Some photos from Shanghai's waterfront showing the extraordinary that has transformed the Pudong district over the past 20 years or so. 

 Pudong – a forest of high buildings 
(above and below) 

 Flowers on the wall of the Bund 

Buildings close to the Bund on the Western Bank