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, 26 April 2015

A couple of 2009 Loire treats

A couple of bottles from 2009 that I have recently really enjoyed, while being slightly surprised but pleased by their quality: a Touraine Sauvignon from Lionel Gosseaume and a Pinot Beurot from the Charitois' vineyards of Serge Dagueneau et Fils. 

Firstly Lionel Gosseaume's 2009 Les Sauterelles Touraine Sauvignon. Often the advice given for Touraine Sauvignon is to drink the youngest vintage available. Although it depends upon how you like your Sauvignon to taste but, like the Sauvignon Blancs, from the Central Vineyards, those from the best producers keep well. Les Sauterelles from Lionel Gosseaume is a good example. Showing the typical richness of a 2009 it has retained attractive freshness in the finish and the extra bottle age has brought addition complexity.    

Domaine Didier Dagueneau is rightly famous and acclaimed but this is a reminder, along with their wines from Pouilly, that there is a another Dagueneau domaine – that of Serge Dagueneau et Filles – of merit. Pinot Beurrot is a synomym for Pinot Gris, while Côtes de La Charité IGT used to be called the Coteaux Charitois.   

The vineyards of the Côtes de La Charité lie to the north east of La Charité, an attractive small town on the Loire between Pouilly-sur-Loire and Nevers. This Pinot Beurott is very much a Pinot Gris made in the style of Alsace – opulently rich with an attractive touch of evolution in the long finish – rather than most Italian Pinot Grigios. I started off drinking it as an excellent apéro. Then tried it with a piece of smoked haddock poached in milk. Doubtless an interesting experiment but too rich for the delicacy of the haddock. 

Although not a major Loire variety Pinot Gris/Pinot Beurrot crops up in various parts of the valley playing different roles. In Reuilly it makes a delicate and pale rosé. It is one of the three Pinots that goes into Noble Joué (just to the south of Tours) – the other two are Noir and Meunier. In The Coteaux d'Ancenis, at the gates of the Pays Nantais, it is known as Malvoisie where it is mainly used to make sweet wine, which ages well. In this guise it also pops up in eastern Touraine but rarely made in commercial quantities rather for consommation personnelle.        


Saturday, 25 April 2015

24.4.15: CWW AGM @New Zealand House on Sauvignon Blanc Day

 A welcome glass of No1 at the end of formal business

Toasting the end of formal business

Yesterday The Circle of Wine Writers held their 55th AGM in the offices of the New Zealand Winegrowers. The AGM was followed by a tasting of 140 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs at the top of New Zealand, which has stunning views over London.  

Circle's 55th AGM saw Rosemary George MW taking over as our President as Steven Spurrier is stepping down at the end of his term of office. Bob Campbell MW was elected as our first Vice-President based outside the UK. His fellow Vice-President is Oz Clarke, also elected yesterday. Seven committee members were elected: Kathy Burk, Michael Edwards (re-elected), Keith Grainger, Colin Hampden-White, Caroline Henry, Helena Nicklin and Liz Sagues. 

Following the formal business Rosemary George MW gave a presentation on the current state of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Bob Campbell MW was originally due to give this talk but around a month ago he injured his Achilles Tendon in the gym, so was unable to travel from New Zealand. Quite what ferocious exercise Bob was undertaking that caused this unfortunate injury is unclear. We are very grateful to Rosemary for taking over. Before Rosemary gave her presentation we were served a glass of No1 New Zealand sparkling wine.

Then we repaired to the top floor for the tasting of the 140 New Zealand Sauvignon going back to the 2007 vintage. Roger Jones, the very talented owner and chef at The Harrow, Little Bedwyn and CWW member prepared delicious canapés to try matching with selected Sauvignon Blancs.

My thanks to NZ Winegrowers for allowing us to use their premises for our AGM. 

 Tasting of 140 NZ Sauvignon Blancs underway

 Roger Jones@work

 Views from the top of New Zealand House 




Friday, 24 April 2015

2015 Le Salon de l'AOC Chinon: Saturday 25th April

Les vignerons dans la ville 8ème édition

Pour la huitième année consécutive, les vignerons de l’AOC Chinon font leur salon au cœur de la ville de Chinon.
Venez découvrir le millésime 2014.

Au programme de cette journée printanière :
- dégustation de vins de plus de 50 vignerons de Chinon,
- défilé de la Confrérie des Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens à 10H30,
- expositions des métiers de bouches et artisans locaux,
- Musique et animation à retrouver de place en place,
- Les Toquès du vin : démonstrations culinaires tout au long de la journée
- expérience unique et originale à vivre avec l'institut de dégustation
Dans une ambiance conviviale et familiale découvrez ou redécouvrez l’art de vivre en pays Chinonais.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Bonds against the scammers

Representatives from EHD and London City Bond (LCB) met with me on Tuesday 21st April in Central London to discuss launching a new initiative – Bonds against the Scammers. In particular they will now be sharing information with each other and investdrinks about scam wine investment companies. 

Although in competition with each other, EHD and LCB are committed to making life difficult for wine investment scammers. This is certainly business that they do not want.

It is not wanted because wine should be enjoyable and they do not want to see their customers being ripped off. It is also not wanted because when things go wrong and the scam company goes bust or disappears, then it is usually the bonded warehouse that is left to pick up the pieces. Left to deal with understandably upset and irate investors, who may often have sunk a significant proportion of their life savings into wine they either doesn’t exist or for which they have been charged far too much.

Although the bonded warehouses are not in any way part of these scams, it is not surprising that some defrauded investors unfortunately assume that the bonded warehouses are somehow part of the scam.

HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) and the money laundering regulations require bonded warehouses to carry out due diligence on customers wishing to open accounts. It is clear that these regulations put the emphasis on those wanting to open accounts to prove that they are legitimate.

LCB and EHD already do refuse to open accounts for companies they consider dubious as well as closing or freezing accounts of companies or individuals whose accounts arouse suspicion.

Often scammers refused an account at one bonded warehouse will apply to another bonded warehouse in the hope of slipping through. EHD and LCB agreeing to share information on companies and individuals refused an account or who arouse suspicion will make life more difficult for the scammers.

The bonds will also exchange information on their due diligence procedures and see how far these can be coordinated.  

We hope that other bonds especially other third party warehouses like Octavian will join in this initiative.