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, 24 September 2019

St John celebrates 25 years of nose to tail eating

Nose to tail eating

St John restaurant (London) celebrates 25 years

Fergus et Trevor
Fergus and Trevor @ their annual fête des vins at
their Boulevard Napoléon winery in La Livinière, Minervois May 2019 

This week we will be briefly in London as very lucky invitees to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the St John restaurant in Smithfield in 1994. A party that will surely go on into the early hours of the morning. St John is run by Chef Fergus Henderson and restaurateur Trevor Gulliver.

 Fergus puts it on the plate
and Trevor puts it in the glass

Lunch 23.9.19
Lunch menu 23rd September 2019
Menus change daily

St John celebrates good food and good living serving both existing classics and ones that Fergus Henderson has made into a classic. It doesn't do fashion – if you want dishes with foam or the latest culinary bling you will have to go elsewhere. The impressive wine list, all French, was initially sourced by Trevor but there is now a wine team headed by Victoria Sharples.

Here is a link to an excellent article about Trevor Gulliver, Fergus Henderson and St John, which appeared in Guardian recently, a brief extract from the article:

'Both men are steeped in what you might call the rigour of gastronomic pleasure. The articles of St John’s faith are all about constancy and conviction, doing good things extremely well. When they first opened the restaurant, with its menu of tripes and bone marrow and welsh rarebit and addictive custard, they were accused of being 200 years out of date, which they took as an enormous compliment.

'One of their key beliefs is that a great restaurant should insist on making a human shape to the day, beginning early with the baking of bread, and ending late with a final glass of something special. In an age of working lunches and clean eating, they have held fast to that principle.'

Over the years I have eaten a number of times at St John – it has always been a pleasure, especially a dinner with around 20 friends and family to celebrate one of Carole's special birthdays when we enjoyed a suckling pig. Just not sure why we haven't gone to St John more often!

Since 2016 we have had the good fortune to be invited to join their annual Fête des Vins at their Boulevard Napoléon winery in La Lavinière and this has become a highlight of our year.

2016 Fête des Vins: Fergus and Trevor  

2017 Fête des Vins: the quail 

The brains of the operation: Fête des Vins 2018

Trevor & the quail: Fête des Vins 2018

Fergus and Trevor have established a menu for their Fête des Vins: after the apéros we start with brains on toast, followed by quail, then cheese and cherries. The menu doesn't change – it works so it doesn't need to be tweaked. All this is accompanied by Boulevard Napoléon wines plus others that guests have brought along with them.

Sadly back around 1998 Fergus was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which is now happily controlled since 2006 by deep brain stimulation – a procedure that controls the shakes and tremors. Fergus' continued enjoyment of life and work is an inspiration.

Address: 26 St. John Street, London, EC1M 4AY

Thursday, 12 September 2019

2019 Loire vintage – picking underway in Muscadet

Picker @ the Lieubeau vineyards 
source of their Confluence cuvée

Melon de Bourgogne 2019

The official Ban des Vendanges for Muscadet was on Thursday 5th September. There were a few that started the day before but more general picking appears to have started during this week. Otherwise picking has been gradually getting underway with favourable weather conditions, even a little rain during Monday 8 to 12 mm. This case the rain should have been helpful as it has been very during here, although not as dry I think as in the Cher Valley.  

As last year the grapes are very healthy. The crop, however, is substantially down on a normal year with an estimate of 250,000 hls, around half of normal. This is due primarily to the April frosts but the drought has further lowered the crop – small berries with not much juice inside. 

It is likely that the pace of picking will pick up as producers will want to avoid acidity levels dropping. At the moment the little 2019 juice that I have tasted appears well balanced.

More reports to follow.