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 27 March 2018

Whisky landscape

River Spey

Fast flowing Spey
The whisky famous River Spey at Newtonmore. This is well upstream from the clutch of world famous Speyside distilleries. The sole distillery upstream of here is Dalwhinnie, Scotland’s highest distillery but it is not on the Spey rather it is on the River Trium, a tributary of the Spey that joins the mother river just to the south of Newtonmore.
Dalwhinnie Distillery (above and below) is one of Diageo’s classic malts. This gentle spirit belies the wild landscape that surrounds the distillery.
Looking down on Dalwhinnie from above Loch Ericht (see photo below)
The white building in the distance is the distillery
The Cairngorms viewed from Aviemore
Further downstream between Aviemore and Granton-on-Spey with the Cairngorm mountains in the background. The majority of the distilleries are closer to the sea…… dram deferred!

Friday 23 March 2018

2017 César de Vendôme Gris, Coteaux Vendômois

2017 César de Vendôme Gris, Coteaux Vendômois 

This is a pleasant, well-made Rosé from the Cave Coopérative du Vendômois. Made from 100% Pineau d'Aunis, which is somewhat of a speciality of the Valley of Le Loir. I found this 2017 rosé a little bland as it was missing the characteristic peppery character of Pineau d'Aunis, which makes is what makes wines from this variety stand out.    

Thursday 22 March 2018

The Second Battle of Wounded Knee (11 weeks on) + Loch Gynack

 Left leg and knee: 22nd March 2018

 Knee: 5th February 2018

It is now 11 weeks since I had the operation on my knee to reattach my quads to my left knee cap, having ruptured them from my knee slipping on black ice on 2nd January. 

As the photos show the operation scar is healing up nicely – a big difference today (22nd March) from how my knee was on 5th February.   

  Left leg and knee: 22nd March 2018 

I celebrated the approach of 11 weeks since the operation by taking the old drovers track between Newtonmore and Kingussie. This track heads up towards the mountains before turning right to pass along the north side of Loch Gynack. This was most strenuous walk I have attempted since the operation. I was fortunate that it was a beaut of a day – bright sunshine and blue skies as the photos below show.  

Path heading up to Loch Gynack.

 Looking down towards Loch Gynack

 Loch Gynack 
(above and below)


Wednesday 21 March 2018

Attractive 2017 Cabochard Rosé, Côte Roannaise, Sérol

Another good 2017 – this time the 2017 Cabochard, Côte Roannaise Rosé from Domaine Sérol. 100% Gamay – vibrant pink colour, lively, refreshing but not acidic rosé. Good to drink even during the winter but should shine even more brightly in the summer. Stéphane and Carine Sérol's wines are consistently good. 

Although the Côte Roannaise is only a small appellation there are a group of good producers here who are well worth discovering – both for their Côte Roannaise appellation wines (red and rosé) but also for their IGP whites from a range of grape varieties including Rousanne and Viognier.  

Tuesday 20 March 2018

More wedding fotos – by special request


 Anne & Chris
 Anne & Carole

 Carole, Zoe and Anne


Tom, Zoe and Celia
 Shona & Liam

The cover of my new album....

Monday 19 March 2018

A few more wedding photos featuring the good choice of wine

Shona – a beautiful bride and smart wine buyer

The wines served at Shona and Liam's wedding reception were well chosen by Shona. Following the marital ceremony Bouvet's well-made Saumur Brut. This mainly Chenin Blanc with some Chardonnay. It worked very well – at times like this there is no sense in going beyond a well-made, agreeable glass of fizz.

Few, if any, wedding guests are paying much attention to the wine in their glass as long as it is enjoyable since they are busy chatting, taking photos etc.    

Guests enjoying their Bouvet:

Cheerful hats 
(above and below)

Relaxed elegance ...... or

... more formal

Serving more Bouvet ready for the toasts

Wines with the meal:

For the meal Shona opted for the 2016 Devil's Creek, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and, for the red – the 2016 Porta 6 from the Lisbon area – a blend of 50% Tinto Roriz, 40% Castelãu and 10% Touriga Nacional. I ought to have been able to provide a tasting note for the Sauvignon Blanc but I forgot to try it – what did I say about wine and weddings! 

Instead like many of the rest of the guests I went for the attractively softly black fruited but nicely concentrated Porta 6 – a good example of how good Portuguese red wines can be without concentrating on international varieties. 


Sunday 18 March 2018

Shona and Liam's wedding – a few photos

 Here comes the bride: 
Shona with her father Jim 
(above and below)

On Saturday CRM and I were at Shona and Liam's wedding at Guardswell Farm, which is between Perth and Dundee. The wedding was a warm and happy occasion in marked contrast to the weather which was wild with frequent snow showers and bitterly cold.


 Start of the ceremony

 Ring time 

 Shona Mackie-Macintyre and 
Liam Macintyre-Mackie embrace
(above and below)

 Comin' up for air....

Signing the register

 After the signing 
 The happy couple

The wedding meal – ready for the speeches 

More photos to follow in a separate post

Friday 16 March 2018

Loire – a few dates for your diary


Central Loire:

31st March - 2nd April: Reuilly 65th Fête du Vin et de la Gastronomie

31st March - 2nd April: Châteaumeillant, Foire aux Vins


7th and 8th April: VinaViva, Saint-Étienne de Chigny 

26th-27th May: VitiLoire, Tours 

Thursday 15 March 2018

March lunch at Newtonmore's Letterbox Restaurant

View from restaurant onto Main Street, Newtonmore

 Netta – my special guest

We profited from the restarting of weekday meals at the Letterbox – an early sign of spring – by enjoying lunch there today, which was made even better with the 20% lunchtime discount during March.

During the winter the Letterbox is just open for dinner at the weekends but now we are in March the restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. Unlike many restaurants all the food is freshly prepared on the premises, so no question of heating up pre-prepared dishes. 

CRM and I both took a glass of very agreeable 2015 South African Sauvignon Blanc. 

The Letterbox is definitely recommended for either lunch (cash only) or dinner (cards accepted).  

 Tagliatelle with mushroom, pesto and cream sauce

 Tagliatelle with salmon and Parma ham

Haggis in filo pastry and vegetables


 The chef going through the dessert menu with Netta

 Apple and plum pie

 Choux bun with cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce