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, 30 September 2017

Epeigné-les-Bois: mariage du siècle – les jeunes Lyn et Vasco

The young newly weds emerge from the Mairie
where they made their vows

Today Epeigné-les-Bois witnessed its marriage of the century – a marriage of a carefully chosen blend of France, Portugal Australia – a marriage of Lyn and Vasco.

Lyn arriving for her wedding 
@ the Mairie of Epeigné-les-Bois

A practice kiss with Vasco on the way in

The young newly weds emerge from the Mairie
The moment they catch sight of the Russian tank 

 Serge and the Russian tank

 Wedding group photo on the steps of the Mairie

 The young newly weds in the Forêt d'Amboise

 Aperos @ L'Echanson, Amboise

Thursday, 28 September 2017

2017 Promising Loire harvest in Bourgueil and Chinon

 A picker at Domaine de la Butte, Bourgueil 
testing the quality of this year's Cabernet Franc

As this week is the big week for picking Cabernet Franc in Western Touraine – Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil – we made a quick visit there today to see how the picking of the Cabernet Franc is going. 

We popped into Lamé Delisle Boucard, Pierre and Catherine Breton, Domaine de Chevalerie and Domaine de la Butte in Bourgueil. Then across to Chinon to see – Charles Joguet, Baudry-Dutour and finally Domaine Bernard Baudry, where not only saw Bernard Baudry but also Chris Kissack (The Wine Doctor) and his wife Kim. 

Overall the vignerons are happy with the way the harvest is going, with the grapes coming in clean with little rot, especially on the limestone coteaux. After a some rain on Monday morning this week has been fine – this afternoon temperatures wer up to 26˚C. The good weather is mainly due to last, depending on which forecaster you follow. Météo-France now has some light rain during the afternoon for Bourgueil but further east in the Cher Valley no rain is forecast until at least Saturday 7th October. 

Although many are picking this week: the Bretons finished yesterday, Bernard Baudry will finish tomorrow, Jacky Blot at Domaine de la Butte will finish Saturday and I hear that Philippe Alliet finished last Friday. In contrast, however, Baudry-Dutour have only just started on their reds. The bulk will be picked next week with the prestige cuvées picked the following week. There seems to be considerable divergence between producers this year over the ideal ripeness. Time will tell....   

Domaine de la Butte: two friends 
ready for the lunch pause...

La force loading a case of grapes onto the tractor 
for the second sorting table above the winery 
In the Baudry-Dutour winery 

 Bernard Baudry happy with the 2017 harvest

 Cabernet Franc arriving at Domaine Bernard Baudry
(above and below)

More photos of today's visits to be added in a separate post tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sylvain Dittière and Pauline Foucault – Porte Saint Jean (Charly Foucault's spirit lives on - part 1)

 The last of the 2017 Cabernet Franc from 
a vineyard close to Doué-la-Fontaine

Last Thursday we spent part of the morning at Sylvain Dittièrie and Pauline Foucault's La Porte Saint Jean Montrueil-Bellay seeing the last day of their 2017 harvest. This was our first visit to this domaine that started in 2010 with three hectares, which has now grown to 8.5 hectares.  "We won't go above 8.5 hectares," says Sylvain.

Some of their vines are close to Doué-la-Fontaine off the road from Montrueil-Bellay to Doué – Guillaume Piré's Fosse Sèche has vines nearby. The other parcel is in Chacé, AC Saumur-Champigny and the home commune of the Foucaults.  

Our immediate impetus in visiting La Porte Saint Jean was to see Françoise Foucault, who we haven't seen since the sad death of her husband, Charly Foucault, right at the end of the 2015. We were delighted when Françoise contacted us recently through Facebook. We first met Françoise when she was making the wine at Château Yvonne in the mid to late 1990s. I had first met Charly along with his brother Nady in 1990. 

It was great to see Françoise again. She was cooking for the harvest crew as well as looking after Pauline and Sylvain's five year old son, who was poorly so off school. 

Sylvain served an extensive apprenticeship before setting up La Porte Saint Jean with stints at Château Yvonne (commune of Parnay, AC Saumur-Champigny), Thierry Germain (Domaine des Roches Neuves, Saumur and Saumur-Champigny) and the Foucault brothers at Clos Rougeard as well as with Gérard Gauby in the Roussillon and Marc Tempé in Alsace. 

With Sylvain I tasted several samples from barrels down in the extensive cave that is reached by quite a steep slope close to the house – echoes of Antoine Foucault's cave at his parents' house in Chacé. The limestone rock here, however, is not the same being Jurassic. We tasted the young vines Chenin Blanc – just 60 years old, so a mere stripling! The old vines come from plants of 90 years old. We also tasted the 2016 Porte de Saint Jean Saumur-Champigny and the 2016 and 2015 red Saumur. The 2015 Champigny is now in bottle – Sylvain gives the red Saumur a long élèvage. 

The 2015 Saumur-Champigny Porte Saint Jean is promising with ripe fruit and attractive texture but is still quite tight in the finish, so would benefit from another couple of years in bottle.  

I fancy that Charly Foucault would feel more at home here at La Porte Saint Jean than at Clos Rougeard now that it has been bought by Martin Bouygues. Certainly while I was with Sylvain, Pauline and Françoise I felt a strong sense that Charly's esprit lives on here. 

Coming soon – Antoine Foucault's new property and winery.

The press area @Porte Saint Jean with 
Pauline Foucault in the centre 

Trio of dogs supervising end of the 2017 harvest  

 Sylvain Dittière in the upper chai

 Part of the extensive cave under 
the house and the grounds 
(above and below)

Sylvain taking a sample 
of his Chenin Blanc

 .... now ready to pour a tasting sample

Sylvain Dittière down in the cellar with his 2015 Saumur Rouge 

Sylvain relaxing now the 2017 harvest is finished

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Eglise à Epeigné – réparations impressionants ! + a contrast....

The church at Epeigné-les-Bois has been undergoing extensive repairs for at least a year now. Using specialist workers the results are certainly impressive. The pity, of course, is that the church is rarely used. 

Detailed work on the tower  

Scaffolding and machinery 

 Working on the curved eastern end of the church 
– seems similar to the brow of a boat 

(above and below)

 Work advances 

Somewhat of a contrast......
Earlier this year the commune of Epeigné-les-Bois biult a wall to support the land behind the Salle des Fêtes. Unfortunately the mason's work on this wall was far below that of the quality being shown in the restoration of the church. 

 Immaculate work on church contrasting with commune's wall
The two walls do not appear to be joined together....


Monday, 25 September 2017

2017 Loire – Pouilly-Fumé last Wednesday morning

 At Saint-Andelain looking down towards 
Les Berthiers, shrouded in mist 

Last Wednesday morning it was truly autumnal with thick mist covering much of the lower ground between Chavignol (part of the commune of Sancerre) and Pouilly. We left Chavignol bathed in sunlight but by Saint-Satur the mist had closed in and it stayed that way well after we crossed the Loire till we reached the heights of Saint Andelain.  

Saint-Andelain: Looking towards Les Cassiers

Bunch of Sauvignon Blanc @Saint Andelain
 Picker @ Domaine Michel Redde

 Sébastien Redde in the winery (Domaine Michel Redde)

 Romain Redde in the vines 

 Domaine Masson Blondelet in Pouilly-sur-Loire 

Les Loges, Pouilly-sur-Loire– one of the places along the Loire 
where the vines are quite close to the river
Les Loges – very much a vignerons' village 
Sancerre can be just glimpsed through the misty background