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

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Reflections on Parkinson's fundraising ride from Pauillac to La Livinière (Minverois)

Jim and Carole @the Cité of Carcassonne

A week yesterday Carole and I were riding through quiet, rolling roads through the Minervois towards our final destination – Domaine Ostal Cazes at La Livinière. Fortunately we had the wind behind us as we passed by vineyards interspersed by garrique and other crops.

In direct contrast yesterday afternoon I foolishly decided to go for a ride in London at the time of the afternoon school run and the start of the Friday weekend rush hour. This made riding on most of the roads no fun at all and I cut short my ride. Such a contrast to peaceful rural France whether it is in the Languedoc or the Loire. 

Although there are considerate drivers in London, there are still far too many that speed, drive recklessly and dangerously with little thought for other road users whether they are fellow drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. 

Riding a bike in London means that you can never relax – always trying to anticipate the next danger or the next impatient idiot. 

Much of our five day ride from Pauillac to La Livinière was along the towpath of the Garonne and then the Midi Canals. There was a good tarred track all the way from the western end of the Garonne canal a few miles east of Langon all the way to the western border of the Aude départment. This meant that we could ride our road bikes along by the canal and benefit from the shade and tranquility – no vehicles! Unfortunately in the Aude the track becomes rough so we had to take to the normal roads to avoid punctures. 

During our ride we had to negotiate two major cities: Bordeaux and Toulouse. Both proved to be cycle friendly and easy to get through. Toulouse entirely on cycle lanes – some shared with pedestrians, while Bordeaux was easy once we reached the new Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas Bridge. The new bridge includes a dedicated cycle lane which then on the eastern side connects to a pedestrian/cycleway that takes you right through and out to the south of the city. In Toulouse we were able to follow the Garonne Canal until it became the Canal du Midi.  

Clearly both Bordeaux and Toulouse a much smaller than London but it was striking, despite the new cycle highways in the centre, London lags far behind these French cities. 

Sadiq Khan, the current London Mayor, makes the right sounds about improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists alike. However, after a little more than a year in power I sense that he has achieved little and that he is better at hot air than taking practical steps. 

Khan appointed Will Norman, as his new walking and cycling supremo on a salary of £98,000 a year. A google search on Norman brings up no recently entries, so you have to wonder what is he up to? 

We are very pleased that our ride across Southern France has to date raised £5,587.19 including gift aid. Donations continue to be very welcome – please donate here  Together we can make a difference to people with Parkinson's. Thanks!        

Destination: Ostal Cazes, La Livinière, Minervois

Cycling group@Trevor Gulliver's house in nearby Homps

Friday, 23 June 2017

Wine tourism: les jeudis du vin de l'AOC Chinon from 13th July to 7th September

Press release from Vins de Chinon @Thursday tastings:

Forteresse royale et AOC Chinon, l'histoire en partage
Que peuvent avoir en commun la forteresse royale et les vins de Chinon ? Si la pierre tendre de tuffeau a permis de batir les plus beaux chateaux de la Loire, elle est aussi celle qui donne aux vins de Chinon un certain caractère. Un sous-sol et une histoire en héritage qui montrent que l'architecture et le vin sont bien affaire de patrimoine*. Un patrimoine vivant que les vignerons de Chinon partagent volontiers avec les visiteurs partis à l'assaut de la forteresse, chaque jeudi de l'été.

9 jeudis 9 vignerons pour découvrir les vins de Chinon avec ceux qui les font !

Du 13 juillet au 7 septembre 2017, chaque jeudi après-midi à la forteresse royale de Chinon
A l'image du Val de Loire, Chinon produit des vins raffinés, élégants, parfois aussi puissants que sa forteresse ! Une richesse que l'AOC Chinon propose de faire découvrir aux visiteurs pendant 9 jeudis avec 9 vignerons de Chinon qui se relaient autour de dégustations et d'échanges. Une facon de mieux appréhender un territoire avec ceux qui le font : rencontrer un vigneron, c'est toujours une aventure privilégiée ; un échange aussi fructifère que les cépages Cabernet Franc ou Chenin donnent une gamme variée de vins rouge, rosé ou blanc friands, légers ou au contraire structurés selon l'empreinte que le vigneron a voulu leur donner. 

Déguster du Chinon depuis la forteresse, c'est aussi, fouler les terres des rois Charles VII, Henri II Plantagenêt et aiguiser son palais dans un cadre royal, faire un premier pas vers l’esprit, si vivant, de la "Rabelaisie" en embrassant une vue à couper le souffle sur la ville et les paysages tant chéris par Rabelais, ce géant chinonais humaniste qui marqua à jamais ses nombreux héritiers littéraires. 

Boire du Chinon à la source, c'est enfin permettre aux 173 vignerons de l'appellation, de récolter pleinement le fruit de leur travail, de participer à une économie réelle et vivante qui emploie près de 800 personnes sur le chinonais et de maintenir 2400 hectares en production viticole.

* Reconnaissance du Sénat en 2014 : "le vin, produit de la vigne, et les terroirs viticoles font partie du patrimoine culturel, gastronomique et paysager de la France".

Informations pratiques : Syndicat des Vins de Chinon tél. 02 47 93 30 44 / 

Dégustation gratuite et vente des vins sur place et gourmandises dans l'enceinte de la forteresse Droit d'entrée à la forteresse : Plein tarif : 8,5 € / Tarif réduit : 6,5 € / Gratuit : enfant - 7ans 

 Part of the Château of Chinon

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tim Stanley Clarke – Rest in Port

Very shocked and saddened to hear that Tim Stanley Clarke, one of the great characters of the UK wine trade and great Port lover and expert, died last night. Tim had a great sense of humour and enjoyed jolly japes. On a personal level he was very supportive of my exposure of wine investment frauds.

I have fond recollections of a memorable trip with Tim to visit Bouchard Père et Fils following its takeover by Henriot. We flew back from Dijon and it was some time before the ban on taking liquids on planes. Since our flight departed around lunchtime Tim had bought various patés etc plus at least two bottles of Bouchard Burgundy – a well chilled white and a red plus glasses – allowing us to have a very enjoyable lunch at the back of the plane!   

Here are a series of photos I took of Tim at the Circle of Wine Writers' Christmas Party in December 2013 hosed by Swiss Wine. I hope they capture some of the essence of TSC.  

Tim's bio on Linkedin 

News report in The Drinks Business

We will certainly miss you Tim!  

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Saumur Champigny's 60th anniversary celebrations: Les Grandes Tablées 2nd & 3rd August 2017

The 18th edition of Saumur Champigny's Les Grandes Tablées will be held on Wednesday 2nd August and Thursday 3rd August. This year there will be more than two kilometres of tables for the expected 6000 diners. 

This edition marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Saumur Champigny appellation or 'pour ses 3 fois 20 ans as the producers prefer to have it. The appellation came into force on 31st December 1957. 

The meal starts at 7pm and costs 13€ and an engraved tasting glass is a further 5€ (bought on the night). Meal reservations from the Saumur Tourist Office, Quai Carnot, 49400 Saumur. Tel or on line: 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Left the Loire .... back in London

We left the Loire this morning and are now back in London  along with warnings of high levels of pollution tomorrow. To be fair there were already today warnings in Rouen of high levels of pollution and the need to take precautions. Please follow Sadiq Khan's advice to take care.

 Just cloud or a brown, grey cloud 
menacing the City of London?

Monday, 19 June 2017

Brexit: the lunatics set sail for Brussels

Today the UK started its divorce process from the European Union – the lunatics led by David Davis sailed into Brussels with a leaky boat. It is barely two weeks since Theresa's cynical attempt to grab a substantial majority by holding a quite unnecessary election failed spectacularly. May has been humiliated as much by the unbeliveably dreadful 

Not only, following the election, does David Davis and the UK Government have no mandate for any kind of Brexit but Davis appears to be incapable of negotiating his way out of a paper bag even with the benefit of SatNav. 

May and her Government appear not or are deliberately ignoring that the popular mood in the UK looks to be moving away from Brexit as the economic and other disadvantages become increasingly apparent. 

Both the French and Germany Governments have offered us a way out with the option for us to change our minds. I fear, however, for the moment our politicians – both Conservative and Labour – are too stupid and blinkered to grasp this gift horse with both hands. Jeremy Corbyn's – 'Brexit for the many' is as stupid as May's 'Brexit means Brexit'.

Hopefully in the time that remains between now and March 2019 when the divorce is due to be finalised, politicians will wake up and realise that the electorate is likely to severely punish fools and liars who set out to make them poorer long term. 

There is still time to own up and admit Brexit is a terrible idea and instead decide to stay within a thriving EU.       

Sunday, 18 June 2017

2017 Fête des Vins, Boulevard Napoléon, La Livinière, Minervois

 Trevor and Fergus – spud maestros

 Phew it's hot!
 John and Trevor: the quail gatherers

Some photos from yesterday's Fête des Vins @Boulevard Napoléon, La Livinière, Minervois. It was very hot and Fergus, John and Trevor did a sterling job looking after the barbecue despite the intense heat from both the sun and the fire. 

Delicious menu: brains on toast, barbecued quail, Cantal Salers and cherries accompanied by wines from Boulevard Napoléon and some other growers. The Boulevard Napoléon 2014 Grenache Gris and 2014 Bien Autre, the second wine in their red stable, were especially good.     


Fergus + Benji  – a tired and 
emotional part of the event....

Trevor + phone 

Sheathing the tongs

Chef John 

Winemakers Benji and Joseph
modelling their regulation blue shirts
 Daniel dealing with a persistent photographer 

... but unable to resist soon relents 

 Kitty – above and below

 Brains on toast

A table (above and below)


New York to the Minervois for a weekend 

Trevor and Nicky's neighbours in Homps
(above and below)


 The speeches were a tad long this year.......

Saturday, 17 June 2017

St John's Fête des Vins – Boulevard Napoleon: eve of fête paella

It was paella evening (Friday) on the eve of Boulevard Napoleon's annual Fête des Vins. Some photos from the event.

John serving up with Trevor as 
Mr Portion Control and i/c parsley

John – the paella king

Counting to five 

Fergus Henderson



 Bob + Lars 
 Derek finds the Minervois relaxing