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 investdrinks.org

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




Friday, 31 July 2015

Vignes, Vins, Randos: 2015 edition: 6th and 7th September



Details of one of the Loire's most popular wine events – Vignes, Vins, Randos. This year held on Saturday 6th September and Sunday 7th September.  

VIGNES, VINS, RANDOS, 12e ÉDITION,

SAMEDI 5 ET DIMANCHE 6 SEPTEMBRE 2015

LES RÉJOUISSANCES DE LA RENTRÉE : RANDONNEZ

ET DÉGUSTEZ AU COEUR DES VIGNES DU VAL DE LOIRE 

Événement incontournable de l’oenotourisme en Vade Loire, “Vignes, Vins, Randos” ce sont 16 balades vigneronnes hautes en couleur ! Les vignerons et négociants des appellations du Vade Loire se mobilisent pour vous faire découvrir leur terroir sur fond de paysages inscrits au patrimoine mondiade l’humanité par l’Unesco et de bonheurs partagés. 

En 2014, c’est plus de 10 000 randonneurs qui étaient au rendez-vous !

En famille ou entre amis, passez un moment conviviaen compagnie des vignerons et des négociants du Vade Loire, pour découvrir de magnifiques paysages de vignes et la diversité des appellations ligériennes. Muni du kit du randonneur et accompagné d’un vigneron, vous partez pour une balade conviviale ponctuée de pauses dégustations & découverte du patrimoine. Au retour, le village VVR vous propose des gourmandises, des animations, et la vente des vins que vous avez dégustés.  

AU PROGRAMME CETTE ANNÉE :
Des parcours de 6/8km – 3h environ

Des parcours famille avec vos bambins, de 1h/1h30 environ (kit randonneur

pour chaque enfants). Les enfants pourront gambader dans les vignes sans
qu’ils finissent sur vos épaules !

LES RANDONNÉES 2015 :
Samedi 5 septembre – départs entre 14h et 15h30
Coteaux d’ancenis – départs de Champtoceaux
Savennières & Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines - départs de Savennières
Bonnezeaux - départs de Thouarcé
Saumur-champigny - départs de Varrains
Saint-nicolas-de-bourguei- départs de Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourguei
Chinon- départs de Beaumont-en-Véron
Touraine-mesland - départs de Mesland
Jasnières et coteaux-du-loir – départs de Ruillé-sur-Loir  

Dimanche 6 septembre – départs entre 8h30 et 9h30

Muscadet cotes de Grandlieu et gros plant - départs des Moutier-en-Retz
Muscadet sèvre-et-maine Gorges - départs de Gorges
Anjou-villages-brissac et coteaux-de-l’aubance - départs de Saint-Melaine-sur-Aubance
Chinon - départs de Beaumont-en-Véron
Touraine-azay-le-rideau - départs de Cheillé-le-Bourg
Vouvray - départs de Vernou-sur-Brenne
Touraine & touraine-chenonceaux - départs de Civray-de-Touraine


NOUVEAUTÉ 2015: Saumur brut fines bulles
Samedi 5 septembre
Départs entre 14h et 15h30
Un nouveau parcours est à découvrir : Saumur brut fines bulles. Au départ de la ville de Saumur et de son majestueux château, visitez les maisons de fines bulles et découvrez la méthode d’élaboration traditionnelle en traversant des lieux habituellement fermés au public.
 

Plus d’informations sur www.vvr-valdeloire.fr

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The monumental Oxford Companion to Wine – editor: Jancis Robinson MW


Jancis Robinson MW (editor) and Julia Harding MW (assistant editor): Oxford Companion to Wine – 4th edition, OUP, £40, 860 pages, hbk (publication date: 17th September 2015).
Here is the 4th edition of this remarkable work of wine scholarship.  Jancis explains in her preface that this revision has been the most ‘thorough’ with ‘every single entry has been subjected to intense scrutiny’. This new edition has 300 new entries out of a total of 4.104 – the third edition had 3930 entries.

She notes that: ‘Throughout the wine world, the emphasis continues to shift from ‘making’ to ‘growing’ wine, just as we are seeing a step change in the style of wine to which thoughtful producers aspire. In terms of wine structure and alcohol levels, big is no longer as beautiful as it was at the end of the last century. And the range of grape varieties harnessed for serious commercial wine production is wider than it has been for decades. ‘

‘Because the Companion was already very long and heavy (a common complaint which has inspired the publication of a digital version of this fourth edition), our esteemed publishers Oxford University Press were extremely strict with us about the total length of this new edition, which is less than 4% longer than the third edition in terms of the total number of words.’

It is interesting and obviously sensible that there is a digital version of this monumental reference book, whose printed version weighs in at 2.88 kilos. The Companion to Wine was first published in 1994 when printed books were king, kindle meant to start a fire and ‘ebooks’ would have been a ham actor attempting a Yorkshire accent.

I fancy that if the digital version is well publicized it may well out-sell the printed book on the grounds of practicality. The weight of the printed book means that it will stay in one place whereas the digital OCW can be at hand all the time. Add to this the ease of linking and connecting entries with each other and the advantages of the eOCW are clear.

Yet it is good to see that printed books continue to survive. There is something about owning and touching a book in comparison to an ebook even if it may be more practical. More cynically you can also show that you own a copy by displaying the tome on a coffee table or desk.

The list of contributors runs to eight pages with an additional 50 for this new edition. The following from the Circle of Wine Writers have contributed to The Companion to Wine: Tony Aspler, Nicolas Belfrage MW, Beverley Blanning MW, Michael Broadbent MW, Stephen Brook, Bob Campbell MW, Steve Charters MW, Nicholas Faith, Christopher Fielden, Michael Fridjhon, Rosemary George MW, Caroline Gilby MW, Lisa Shara Hall, James Halliday, Hugh Johnson, Michael Karam, Wink Lorch, Richard Mayson, late Edmund Penning-Rowsell, Michael Schuster, Stephen Skelton MW, Joelle Thomson, late Pamela Vandyke Price and José Vouillamoz.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Le 5 et 6 aoüt Les Grandes Tablées du Saumur Champigny – la version française


 Les Grands Tablées@Saumur (above and below)





'Un "gisant" de Richard III Plantagenêt pour Fontevraud annoncé aux Grandes Tablées du Saumur Champigny

Les vignerons du Saumur Champigny ont invité les 5 et 6 août prochains, les sujets de sa majesté Elisabeth II à leurs Grandes Tablées annuelles, un repas géant qui a lieu chaque année depuis 15 ans entre Loire et patrimoine, en cœur de ville de Saumur. Pour être à la hauteur de l'événement les vignerons on décidé d'offrir un gisant à Fontevraud pour le dernier des Plantagenêts dont le squelette a été retrouvé par hasard dans un parking en 2012, cinq siècles après sa mort. Après quelques années de tergiversation, Richard III a été inhumé à Leicester. Il est le dernier de la dynastie qui fut Comte d'Anjou et roi d’Angleterre. Avec l'Abbaye de Fontevraud, les vignerons ont décidé de confier à un artiste la réalisation d'un gisant pour que le souverain puisse rejoindre ses aïeux dans leur nécropole de l'Abbaye Royage de Fontevraud. Ils remercient en quelque sorte, les plantagenêts pour leur influence sur le vignoble. Un remerciement aux plantagenêts pour leur influence sur le développement du vignoble d'Anjou.

Le ministre français et la reine d'Angleterre
Le Ministre de l'agriculture et porte-parole du gouvernement, Stéphane Le Foll, a annoncé sa venue pour cette édition 2015. Une autre personnalité a été conviée pour participer au choix de l'artiste qui exécutera le gisant de Richard III... la reine Elisabeth II. Pour inviter tous ceux qui le souhaitent à soutenir l'opération, une plate-forme de crowdfunding sera présentée à l'occasion, permettant d'acquérir des bouteilles de la future cuvée Richard III de Fontevraud ou d'accéder à des séjours dédiés à Fontevraud l'Hôtel ****, award....

Depuis 15 ans, 6 000 repas en cœur de ville
6 000 repas, 3 000 convives chacune des deux soirées et 2 000 flâneurs ! La recette est efficace. Chaque été, Saumur se transforme en grand restaurant à ciel ouvert où la bonne humeur et la fête sont de rigueur. Une immense tablée est dressée au coeur de la ville, autour des produits du terroir et du Saumur Champigny, en compagnie des vignerons de l’appellation. Cette année, les 2km de tables seront installés devant l’hôtel de ville les mercredi 5 et jeudi 6 août !

Oui la gastronomie anglaise existe...
Chaque année, les vignerons de l'AOC Saumur-Champigny convie un hôte étranger. Après les Belges pour l'édition 2014, place aux voisins so British cette année. Et aux derniers qui pourraient en douter, les organisateurs vont avec les produits du terroir du Saumurois, prouver que la gastronomie anglaise existe : Mushroom pie, pork pie, légumes de la vallée, fromage de chèvre, red berry crumble... Les recettes traditionnelles anglaises vont être revisitées.

Musique pop
Les idoles de la pop anglaise ne seront pas présentes, mais les 5 formations qui se succéderont place de la République leur rendront un hommage appuyé. Programme à venir.'

  I can't help but feel that chosing to put a statute, albeit reclining, of Richard III at Fontrevaud is a glorious example of refined French humour....

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

2015 Les Grands Tablées de Saumur-Champigny: 5th and 6th August



2005 Grands Tablées  




I'm looking forward to going to Les Grands Tablées this year. I went once before as a guest of the Saumur-Champigny producers and it was a brilliant visit. Again 10 years on I have been kindly invited. The event has grown considerably over the past decade and now stretches over two days.
 
2005 turned out to be a good vintage and 2015 is looking promising, although drought is a problem and there is still a long way to go. 

Details of the event:   
5th and 6th August: 2km of tables and 6,000 meals – major food & wine feast in Saumur-Champigny



Les Grandes Tablées de Saumur-Champigny is a gastronomic and wine celebration in the heart of the Loire Valley where a meal for some 6,000 people is served to visitors over a two-day marathon festival in the centre of Saumur.  It is the place to be in the Loire in August if you love food, wine and merriment!



For each of the past fifteen years the winegrowers from Saumur-Champigny have played host to special guests from one specific export market. 2015 marks the turn of the British, and the event will include touches of Britishness, including British traditional dishes and popular music.



To accompany the meal, 4,000 bottles of Saumur-Champigny will be served from 20 stands around the Place de la République. The wine chosen for this occasion is called the ‘Cuvée des 100 Vignerons,’ (wine from one hundred growers) a bespoke wine for which the hundred or so local winemakers each contribute 15 kilos of grapes, to produce a special wine which reflects the vintage.  Four of these cuvées – recent ones as well as older – will be served to guests.  



The stats:

·         6,000 meals will be served throughout the two days of the festival

·         4,000 bottles of Saumur-Champigny will be opened

·         Over 10,000 people are expected to visit Saumur-Champigny during the festival


·         Local winemakers, in a nod to the Brits, will present a statue of Richard III to nearby Fontevraud Abbey (King Richard’s ancestors are buried in the Abbey)


·         If all the tables from the meal were put end to end they would reach 2km in length


·         French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll will attend the event this year

·         A crowdfunding platform will be set up at the event, for people to acquire bottles of a future Richard III of Fontevraud cuvée or to access bespoke stays at the 4 star Fontevraud Hotel

 
Notes to editors:

Details: Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th August 2015 from 7pm, Place de la République in Saumur.

Prices: Meal and an engraved tasting glass - €12.00. Tasting glass only - €5.00 (available on site)

Book : Saumur Tourist Office, quai Carnot, 49400 Saumur

www.ot-saumur.com – Tel: 02 41 40 20 60


Monday, 27 July 2015

#TDF2015: Chris Froome wins Tour for 2nd time – André Griepel wins in Paris

André Griepel wins for first time in Paris 

Chris Froome wins 2nd Tour de France 

Many congratulations to Chris Froome and to the Sky team on winning his second Tour de France. Also congratulations to André Griepel on winning on the Champs-Elysées yesterday. The first time he has won there and his fourth stage win in this 2015 edition of the Tour. 

I was out riding my bike along the Thames today to Dartford, so my look back at the Tour will appear tomorrow. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

#TDF2015: winning Pinot on L'Alpe d'Huez, Froome wins Tour + Cav or Griepel today?

 Stage 20: the top 23 headed by Thibaut Pinot

Stage 20: Chris Froome wins 2015 Tour – the top 23 overall
Nairo Quintana 2nd, Alejandro Valverde 3rd


Yesterday was an exciting stage with Chris Froome really pushed by Nairo Quintana. Apparently Froome has been suffering from a chesty cold since the rest day in Gap, so the climb up to L'Alpe d'Huez trying to limit his time loss to Quintana was really hard. With a great attack Quintana managed to reduce his deficit to Froome to 1.12. He couldn't, however, prevent Chris Froome from winning the Tour for a second time as today's stage will be a procession into Paris with only the sprinters involved in a final gallop up the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. 

Thibaut Pinot rescued his Tour with a fine stage win on top of L'Alpe d'Huez to make up for his disappointing showing earlier on in the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali was very unlucky to get a puncture at the base of the climb up the Alpe, which meant that his chance to get on the podium in Paris disappeared.  

The other jersey competitions have also now been decided: 

Mountains – Polka Dot: Chris Froome 


There is one point available on Stage 21 into Paris but this will change nothing as Chris Froome leads Nairo Quintana by 11 points.   

Points – Green: Peter Sagan 


Peter Sagan has again dominated the Points Competition, especially in the latter stages of the race. He leads André Griepel by over 100 points and cannot be caught even if he scores no points today. 

Young Rider: Nairo Quintana 

Nairo Quintana has a comfortable lead of 14.48 over Romain Bardet, the leading French rider. Although overall the French riders have not finished as high up the General Classification as they did last year, there is hope for the future with three French riders in the top four of this competition albeit that Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot are over 37 minutes down on Quintana.  
 
Stage 21: Sèvres-Gpso to Paris Champs-Élysées 109.5 kms
   

Today's stage will be a procession until the peloton reaches the Champs-Élysées when the sprinters will come out to play. The question will be how much did the mountains take out of them?

Although both André Griepel and Mark Cavendish both have weakened lead out teams, I still expect it will be between these two for the victory. Although Cav has lost Mark Renshaw, his lead out man, Mark is adept at going freestyle and knows the finish well having won here four times. Furthermore he has won here before without Renshaw. Peter Sagan will be up there but it would be a major surprise if he manages to win in Paris.  

Saturday, 25 July 2015

#TDF2015: Vincenzo Nibali saves his Tour – Quintana's last chance today



The Tour in the Alps finally sprang into full life yesterday with Sky and Chris Froome finally put under pressure, while Vincenzo Nibali saved his Tour with a fine solo win. With a late attack Nairo Quintana finally managed to take some time out of Chris Froome and is now 2.38 behind. This sets up an potentially exciting final mountain stage but unless Chris Froome has a bad day it will require an epic ride for Quintana to take 2.39 minutes out of Froome today in the stage that finishes atop l'Alpe d'Huez. Although Nibali took 1.14 back from Froome yesterday he is still 6.44 behind, while Chris gained time (1.12) on both Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde. 

Sky will be concerned that their riders appear to be running out of gas at this vital moment. Geraint Thomas had a bad day and came in over 20 minutes down on Nibali and has fallen from 4th place to 15th. Almost the entire Sky Team were dropped on the first climb yesterday and although a number got back on the descent, Froome only had Wouter Poels for support in the final part of the stage. 

The French will have been pleased yesterday with Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland all performing well and finishing with the leaders. Rolland made a long bid for a stage victory but couldn't hold onto Nibali on the final climb. Romaine Bardet has strengthened his place as the leading French rider: in 9th place at 14.08, while Rolland is in 10th at 17.27. 

•••

Stage 20: Modane Valfréjus to l'Alpe d'Huez 110.5 kms



Col de la Croix de Fer

L'Alpe d'Huez

The final showdown is a short 110 kilometre stage with two HC climbs finishing with the famous l'Alpe d'Huez with its hundreds and thousands of spectators lining the hairpin climb to the finishing line. Only Quintana can snatch the Yellow Jersey from Chris Froome. Yesterday he managed to take 32 seconds out of Froome. Will this prove to be too little – too late? Or can Quintana produce an amazing ride today and still win the Tour. It's a very tough ask if Froome doesn't have a bad day. Furthermore Froome as the Yellow Jersey would love to win on L'Alpe d'Huez.

Will Nibali manage to knock Valverde off the podium and take third place? A result that looked highly unlikely until yesterday! Will Bardet stay as the leading Frenchman? We will soon know!  

 

Friday, 24 July 2015

#2015 Tour de France - impressive solo win by Romain Bardet – crunch time today?


 Stage 18: Top 25 on yesterday's stage from Romain Bardet downwards 

 Overall after Stage 18: almost no change in Top 10 except Bardet moves up


2015 Tour de France Stage 18: Bardet wins in St Jean de Maurienne

Romain Bardet's brave first stage win has delighted France bringing them their second stage win in 2015 and helping to make up for the hitherto disappointment that the French riders who did so well last year haven't done as well this year. Some seeming to wilt under the pressure of expectation. Unlike Thibaut, Pinot Bardet is a very fine descender and today's win was built on his descending skills. Bardet (12.52) is now the leading Frenchman overall just ahead of Warren Barguil (13.08).

I had thought that this stage with the long climb of the Col du Glandon and the much touted new hairpin climb – Les Lacets de Montvernier – would shake up the GC. I was wrong as all of the leading GC contenders finished together at St Jean. Les Lacets was spectacular television but wasn't decisive. Of the top ten only Bauke Mollema lost a little time – 19 seconds. Chris Froome was attacked by Alberto Contador and Vincenzo Nibali on the Glandon but although Contador gained more than 30 seconds neither attack stuck. Valverde fell behind at the top of the Glandon but easily got back on during the long descent.

In the final kilometres Froome did look a little less strong than he has throughout this Tour but he finished easily within the GC bunch.

With just two mountain stages left time is now beginning to run out for Nairo Quintana to take the Yellow Jersey from Chris Froome. Today's mountain top finish at the end of a short but very tough stage is clearly an opportunity unless Froome himself decides to attack his rivals and go for another stage win. Should Froome and Quintana finish together it will be difficult but not impossible for Nairo to take the 3 minutes and 11 seconds he needs to win the race.

On the Glandon when there were attacks going off Nairo looked across at Valverde as though to say should I attack. Presumably Valverde said no perhaps because he wasn't feeling at his best and didn't want an attack from Quintana that might have put him in difficulty, so Nairo didn't pull the trigger. This might play again in the two last mountain stages if Valverde is worried about losing his third place.

Hopefully there will be serious attacks today.

The Polka Dot Jersey competition, which has been decidedly comatose since Stage 10, has now finally burst into life with Joaquim Rodriguez and Romain Bardet tied on equal points. Both will be trying today and tomorrow to get a decisive lead but with many points available on the two mountain top finishes the Jersey could go to a leading contender if they change the current policy of allowing the breakaway to stay away and take the wins.

Yesterday saw bike checks – looking for electric motors – on Froome, Quintana, Bardet and Sagan's bike. Nothing untoward was found. Cedric Vasseur please note.

Stage 19: Saint Jean-de-Maurienne to La Toussuire 138 kms 



Col de la Croix de Fer

La Toussuire – Les Sybelles: longest finishing climb this year

This is a short but brutal stage. Only 138 kilometres but with three major climbs including the HC Col de la Croix de Fer at 2067 metres. The stage starts with the immediate 1st Cat climb of the Col de Chaussy, so no chance for the riders to relax. I assume Bardet and Rodriguez will want to fight for the points here. GC riders will, however, be reluctant to give Bardet very much scope is he is now 10th overall. 

Will today see a GC rider take the stage or will another breakaway succeed? If Quintana is to win the Tour he surely needs to take time on Chris Froome today.  

This short stage will make it potentially difficult for sprinters etc. to finish within the time limit. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

#TDF2015: Brave stage win for Simon Geschke, TJ out, Froome gains time + beast today

 Stage 17: top 23 headed by Simon Geschke
 
 Overall after Stage 17 down to 23rd.

Simon Geschke claimed his first Tour de France stage win with a very brave ride to Pra Loup. He attacked from the breakaway with over 40K to go to the finish a little before the start of the long climb up the Col d'Allos. He held his advantage over his chasers on the scary descent down the Col and had enough time to get up the slightly more than 6K climb up to Pra Loup despite a frantic chase from Andrew Talansky. Thibaut Pinot, Geschke's closest chaser at the top of the Col d'Allos crashed on the descent. Although Pinot remounted quickly he was passed by several riders later on the descent.

For the GC contenders the big news of the day was Tejay Van Garderen abandoning the race with respiratory problems apparently caused by a cold picked up at the end of the very hot Stage 13. TJ's departure moves Alejandro Valverde onto the Paris podium. 

Chris Froome descended the Col d'Allos well and during the stage held off attacks from Contador, Nibali and Quintana. Contador crashed on the Allos descent and lost 2.17 to Froome on the day. Late attacks on the climb to the finish saw Valverde concede 7 seconds to Froome and Nibali 15 seconds.  

Overall Froome is now 3.10 ahead of Quintana, 4.09 on Valverde, 6.34 on his team mate Geraint Thomas, 6.40 on Contador and 8.04 on Nibali. Warren Barguil is the leading French rider 13.08 down. 

•••

Stage 18: Gap to Saint-Jean-de Maurienne 186.5 kms   

 

 




If yesterday's stage was tough, today's will be even tougher with the climb up the Col du Glandon followed by a Tour first up Les Lacets de Montvernier just before the finish. I'll be surprised if all the leading contenders finish close together at the end of this stage. Nairo Quintana will surely hope to take some time out of Chris Froome today. Unless Froome has a really bad day then it is now really only Quintana who can prevent Froome from winning in Paris. 





Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Oz Clarke: The History of Wine in 100 Bottles






Oz Clarke: The History of Wine in 100 Bottles, Pavilion, £20, 224 pages, hbk
I must confess that when, on a casual glance, I saw 100 bottles in the book’s title my heart sank. Not yet another book on 100 wines to drink before you die or head off to the supermarket, etc.

Of course, I should have known that Oz Clarke wouldn’t produce something so naff. No, The History of Wine in 100 Bottles is a genuinely innovative book, which also has popular appeal, not easy in a subject like wine, which has been so extensively mined. This is a fine episodic survey of wine’s history as Oz explains:

‘So I suppose it is a history of wine, but I unapologetically admit that it is my version of history – it’s the events and the people that I find interesting or amusing or both. There may be bottles missing that you would have included – I freely accept that. To be honest, I could probably have written the history of wine in 200 bottles, had my editor not had the wisdom to say enough’s enough; and even then, I might have missed a few gems. And it isn’t just the big moments in wine that I celebrate – it’s also the eccentric, the bombastic, the mundane.

Do you really think it is important to celebrate the first White Zinfandel, the first Liebfraumilch, or the first ‘bag-in-box’? Well, actually, yes I do. Such events are of massive importance in the spreading of our wine culture all around the world.’

Oz starts from where wine began (6000BC), which for the sake of the book he credits to Georgia because ‘it’s just that of all the potential, Georgia has preserved and cherished a wine culture more closely linked to its past than any of the other countries.’

The History ends in 2014 with Fraud and the conviction of Rudy Kurniawan for counterfeiting large quantities of fine wine. In between the two Oz includes a host of different historical highlights including Wine in Legend and Myth (c 2350 BC), Egypt (1480-1300 BC), Rome (300BC – 200 AD), Pompeii (79 AD), The Birth of Claret (1154-1453), Tokaji (1571), The New ‘English’ Glass Bottle (1632), Corkscrews (1681), Barolo (1843), Louis Pasteur (1860), Phylloxera (1863), Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon (1936), Mateus (1942), Grange Hermitage (1951), A Future without Glass (1963), Bag in Box (1965), Michael Broadbent at Christie’s (1966), Retsina (1970s), White Zinfandel (1975), Parker Points (1978), Varietal Labelling (1980s), Central Otago – Furthest South (1987) and Natural Wine (2000s). 

The History of Wine in 100 Bottles is Oz at his engaging best – a popularist in the best sense. 



#TDF2015: crunch time – first of four Alpine stages



Today is the first of four Alpine stages, which will either confirm Chris Froome as the winner of this 2015 edition or someone else – most likely Nairo Quintana – will take over the Yellow Jersey. Today's 17th stage is the same as the one run in June for the Dauphine where Romain Bardet gained time on the difficulat descent off the Col d'Allos. Can he, Valverde, or Nibali do the same day or will Sky make the climb up the Allos difficult enough to shake off their rivals?

In Paris I think we will see Froome, Quintana and Valverde taking the top three places? In that order? Probably but Quintana still has a chance to win this Tour over the next four days. I think that the rather robotic Tejay Van Garderen will slipout of third place. He seems to have been content to follow the leaders and not make any attack himself. Will that change in the Alps?    

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Menetou Salon: Caves Ouvertes 1st and 2nd August 2015


Bottle statue @entrance to Menetou-Salon


Caves Ouvertes 1er et 2 août Menetou-Salon ouvre ses caves
Le premier week-end d’août les juilletistes et aoûtiens se croisent mais à Menetou-Salon ce sont dans les caves que se rencontrent tout les amateurs de bons vins.

Les vigneronnes et vignerons de 22 domaines du vignoble de Jacques Coeur ouvrent leurs portes et accueillent les visiteurs en toute convivialité pour leur faire découvrir le dernier millésime et partager avec eux quelques uns de leurs secrets de fabrication.

Dès le vendredi, dans le cadre de l’été des entreprises, la viticulture sera mise à l’honneur avec le concours de techniciens et de vignerons, le tout au milieu des vignes de l’appellation (réservation obligatoire au 02 48 48 00 23 ou sur le site www.berryprovince.com).

Le samedi et le dimanche ce sont 22 domaines qui accueillent les visiteurs pour leur faire découvrir leur métier et le fruit de leur passion.

Moment privilégié d’échange chaleureux dans la fraîcheur des caves.

Le samedi à 10H00, la tonnellerie Gauthier sera également ouverte à la visite (20, rue de la Gare à Menetou-Salon) pour comprendre comment l’on fabrique des fûts spécialement adaptés aux vins du Centre-Loire.

Enfin, 10 restaurants de l’appellation attendent les visiteurs pour de belles pauses gourmandes…autour des vins de Menetou-Salon.



Randall Grahm to breed 10,000 new grape varieties



Message from Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon, California):
'I just wanted to give you a heads-up that I am launching a crowd-funding initiative on IndieGoGo to breed 10,000 new grape varieties at Popelouchum, and it is going live tomorrow, 7/21 @ 6:23 a.m. - a time considered particularly propitious in Maria Thun's Biodynamic calendar for the "sowing of seeds."  You can see all of the details of the initiative and campaign at  http://igg.me/at/GrahmCru.  

The big idea is to achieve a "wine of place" in the New World, (a vin de terroir) that is to say a wine of rare complexity and harmony,(1) by taking the radical step of breeding 10,000 new grape varieties from disease-resistant progenitors, (each vine being genetically distinct from the other), and looking at the very complex wine they might produce as a suite, with the side benefit of potentially one or more new "genius" grape varieties emerging from the mix.  In so doing, it is my hope that I will be able to produce a wine from our Popelouchum Estate in San Juan Bautista, reflective of the great quality of terroir I know it to possess.


While I am very proud of the Bonny Doon Vyd. wines we've made over the years, it is now time for me to put together all of the eclectic bits I've gathered in my diverse experience and seek to achieve something on a very different level, and to leave something of real value to the world when I'm gone (above and beyond all of the terminally cute wine labels that I've caused to occur.) 

There are a number of cool rewards, including the shot at potential immortality through the naming of a new grape variety,(2) or the opportunity to participate in some very special events at the vineyard in San Juan Bautista.  In any event, anything you can do to spread the word of this initiative to your social network would be so greatly appreciated. Any suggestions to make this a more interesting and successful initiative also greatly appreciated.  Needless to say, I am receptive to any questions you might have.

All the best,  Randall'


The project explained on YouTube
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