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

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Newtonmore: dramatic sunset

Last evening we had a dramatic sky as sunset approached – not a multi-coloured marvel but shades of browns and greys as the sun dipped lower in the partially cloudy sky.  

Monday, 29 August 2016

2016 Vignes, Vins, Randos – Val de Loire 3rd & 4th September

It is that time of year again – Vignes, Vins, Randos 2016 is on this coming weekend Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September. Full details here

Unfortunately I have never been in the Loire recently in time for Vignes, Vins, Randos, which is a pity as I have friends who speak highly of these events. Instead I tend to come to the Loire a week or so later for the harvest.  

This year's Randos from West to East:

Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine La Haye-Fouassière 
Coteaux d'Ancenis
Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru/Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume
Anjou Villages Brissac
Coteaux de l'Aubance 
Saumur Brut Fines Bulles
Saumur Champigny
Touraine Azay-le-Rideaux
Jasnières/Coteaux du Loir 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

1974 California Zinfandel, Angelo Papagni

Last week I was asked by Jenny to give her some advice on some wine that she had brought up from a friend's cellar in Edinburgh. The wine had been bought by the friend's late husband during a number of trips to France during the 1970s and perhaps into the 80s. 

The majority of the wines were French: from Bordeaux, Burgundy and Beaujolais. A good number were from the 1970 and 1976 vintages. We agreed that I would separate out those that had the potential to be enjoyed when friends came round and those that were worth trying but probably best tried by Jenny on her own. I stressed that she should pull the cork on all of the wines as you never know what is drinkable and what isn't. There are always surprises.

There were about 40-45 bottles. At the end Jenny invited me to choose one to take away in compensation for my advice. I chose the 1974 Zinfandel from Angelo Papagni in Madera, California

At nearly 42 years old the Papagni Zinfandel has stood up well – quite bricky in colour but still with sweet, spicy fruit and some length. It may not have been at its very best but the 74 Zinfandel was still an enjoyable glass of wine. Nor was it over-alcoholic – just 12.5%.  

The wine estate is still in family hands: it is now run by Demetrio Papagni. Unfortunately the business has been through its problems – both Angelo and Demetrio spent time in prison during the 1990s for passing off cheaper Barbera as White Zinfandel. The family business had over-extended during the late 1980s. See this news report by Dan Berger in the Los Angeles Times in November 1993. 

Despite this scandal, the Papagni appears to have survived. Alicante Bouchet is one of their specialitiesno sign of any Zinfandel for sale now.     


Saturday, 27 August 2016

Harley Davidsons parade at Aviemore: 27th August 2016

 Hundreds line Aviemore's main street – here by the railway station  
– waiting for the Harleys to head out on the afternoon rally
(above and below)

We went up to Aviemore – 15 miles to the North of Newtonmore – to see what was happening with the annual Thunder in the Glens. We arrived in time to catch the start of the Saturday rally out to Grantown-on-Spey.  

Part of the huge pack of Harleys 
headed out of Aviemore  
(above and below)

A mini-Harley.....

Earlier two Harleys in Newtonmore 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Frédéric Brochet and Ampelidae expands into Touraine

Already easily the largest player in Haut-Poitou, the dynamic Frédéric Brochet and Ampelidae have now expanded into Touraine taking over the management of the Bourgueil and Chinon vineyards that belonged to Pierre-Jacques Druet. Ampelidae have also taken over the running of the Touraine AC and Montlouis vines of Clos du Porteau based in Saint-Georges-sur-Cher. All the wines will be organic.

Aynard de Clermont Tonnerre from the Clos du Porteau has now been appointed to look after the commercial side of Ampelidae. Clermont Tonnerre used to be a banker with Commerzbank.

With 230 hectares now under their control Ampelidae are becoming an increasingly important player in the Loire. 


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Harleys gathering for Thunder in the Glens 2016: 26th-29th August

 Thursday: young bikers heading for Aviemore and 
Thunder in the Glen 2016
after a brief pause in Newtonmore  
(above and below)

From Monday there have been increasing signs of Harleys and other bikes arriving for this weekend's annual Thunder in the Glens gathering in Aviemore. On Monday, while out riding my mountain bike near to the A9, I heard the unmistakable chugging, throaty gargle of a trio of Harley's making their way up to the top of the Drumochter Pass. My first Harleys of the weekend arriving several days early – rather like hearing the first cuckoo of Spring .... 

Since then there has been a gradual increase in sightings as some choose to come off the busy A9 and make their way to Aviemore through Newtonmore, Kingussie and Kincraig along what was the old A9.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre – Jazz with Muscadet + 25th-28th August 2016

The programme starts tomorrow:

'Partenaire historique des Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre, les vignerons de Nantes donnent rendez-vous du 26 au 28 aout 2016, aux amateurs de jazz et de plaisance autour de dégusta- tions des trois AOC de Nantes : Muscadet, Gros Plant du Pays Nantais et Coteaux d’Ancenis.

Dégustations sur les croisières entreprises et dans les espaces VIP émailleront les trois jours de fête. Le Muscadet, incontournable sur l’événement, prendra aussi ses quartiers sur la Quai Barbusse avec son bar de dégustation animé par les vignerons qui, comme chaque an- née, devient un rendez-vous incontournable des festivaliers. Un moment de plaisir privilégié pour le public nantais afin de découvrir des muscadets élégants et de se laisser surprendre par la diversité de cette AOC. Ce partenariat s’inscrit dans la dynamique des Vins de NANTES à conquérir la métropole pour en faire une ambassade du vignoble.' 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Remembering the 2009 Loire vintage – Le Pays Nantais

Chereau-Carré (Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine) – offices  

Chereau-Carré (Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine)

Melon de Bourgogne grapes from the 100 year old vines 
(above and below)

 Bernard Chereau

Bernard with the 2009 juice 

Melon de Bourgogne 

 The pigeonnier 

Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin 

Pierre Luneau with a sample of Muscadet

2009 Muscadet, Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin

Domaine des Herbauges (Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu) 

 Jérôme Choblet and his family

Luc Choblet – Jérôme's dad