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

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sampling Joseph Mellot wines from the Loire Central Vineyards

2013 Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine des Mariniers  

I was recently sent six samples from producer and négociant Joseph Mellot in Sancerre. Five of the six were closed with a screwcap, while the most expensive – the 2010 La Chatelaine, Sancerre – has a cork. This strikes me as the wrong way round. Why continue to use fallible cork on expensive bottles of wine where wine faults hit your pocket harder than they do with cheap wine? 

2013 Menetou-Salon, Les Thureaux, Joseph Mellot
My favourite of the six  

Tasting the Joseph Mellot samples confirms that these wines have improved considerably of late. All have been well-made and good examples of their appellations.  Leaving aside the older and wood fermented 2010 La Châtelaine, the most successful was the quite weighty 2013 Menetou-Salon Les Thureaux   – floral, ripe gooseberry, soft texture with nicely balanced acidity. The 2013 Sancerre La Chatellenie from vines on flinty soils was similar in style but with a little less weight, while the 2012 Coteaux du Giennois La Gaupière was vibrantly citric. In contrast the 2013 Pouilly-Fumé Domaine des Mariniers was correct without being exciting – perhaps with a little more time in bottle? Equally the Destinéa 2013 Sauvignon Blanc IGP was rather bland and two-dimensional but with marked acidity in the finish.

 2010 La Grande Châtelaine, Sancerre, Joseph Mellot 
The most expensive wine tasted but closed with a cork

Finally the prestige cuvée 2010 La Grande Châtelaine from clay limestone soils and fermented in wood using locally sourced oak from Allogny, a commune just to the north of Bourges. This was certainly the most complex of the wines with attractive weight and texture and a nicely judged touch of oak.

2012 La Gaupière, Coteaux du Giennois, Joseph Mellot

 2013 La Chatellenie, Sancerre, Joseph Mellot

 2013 Destinéa, Sauvignon Blanc, IGP Val de Loire, Joseph Mellot

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Two diary dates: Portes Ouvertes – P et B. Couly 3.5.14 + Paire family 11.5.14

Bertrand Couly

Pierre and Bertrand Couly (Chinon): Portes Ouvertes Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May 9am-6pm. Where: 1 Rond Point des Closeaux, 37500 Chinon, Centre, France

 The winery of Pierre and Bertrand Couly: a brave statement 
or decidedly garish depending on your point of view 
– either way not easily missed!


Sunday 11th May – Paire family (Denise, Georges et Romain: Domaine des Pothiers (Côte Roannaise) starting at 15.00h

Plus assorted friends:

Domaine Coquelicot (Bergerac): Cécile et Grégoire Rousseau
Domaine Yannick Amirault (Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil): Benoît Amirault
Mas Del Périé (Cahors): Fabien Jouves
Domaine Luneau-Papin (Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine): Marie et Pierre Marie Luneau
Domaine des Marnes Blanches (Jura): Gérard Froment
Clos Saint Fiacre (Orléans): Bénédict et Hubert Piel
Domaine François Crochet (Sancerre): Carine et François Crochet
Domaine Saint Nicolas (Fiefs Vendéens): Thierry Michon
Les Arabesques (Roussillon): Saska Van der Horst
Château Canon Saint Michel (Fronsac): Christine et Jean-Yves Millaire


Romain Paire

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Hervé and Patricia Menard: 2010 Bourgueil

2010 La Vigne aux Alouettes, Bourgueil 

The first Saturday in April we stopped off mid-afternoon at Patricia and Hervé's Domaine Ménard, where they were having their Portes Ouvertes. The programme had promised a horse drawn ploughing demonstration but with the very real threat of frost due to the very early bud-break this had been cancelled. 

I had first tasted Domaine Ménard's wines at the Fête des Vins de Bourgueil at Tours in March and had been impressed, so was keen to go back and try them again. There were nine wines to try – of those still on sale I particularly liked the ripe and textured 2010 La Vigne aux Alouettes but with good balancing acidity. Not flashly but an honest, good drink and not expensive@7.40€ a bottle. Sadly it is probably all now sold out as Hervé said they were down to their last few cases. The 2013 Alouettes was also attractive with nicely soft tannins for the vintage. The 2012 also had good texture, though with some bitterness in the finish, while the 2011 was more angular and less impressive. The 2011 Grand Clos had good concentration but quite grainy tannins in the finish. 

Hervé Menard explained that they had started to convert to organic viticulture in 2006 and had been associated with Christophe Chasle before Chasle sold off his vineyards including seven hectares in Saint-Patrice to Xavier Courant. Finding himself with 2.5 hectares Hervé soon concluded that the only economic way to cultivate his vineyards was to use a horse as a tractor with the necessary equipment just wasn't viable. "I'm the only person in Bourgueil who works with a horse in my vines." he claims.

The Ménard's wines ought to be stocked at the Café de la Promenade as Ludo Ragot is a fan but apparently Hervé hasn't got round to delivering them yet... Hopefully he will have done in the next time I go to the Promenade!    

Hervé Ménard


Monday, 21 April 2014

Misty London City: 21.4.2014

Early morning: the towers of a misty City of London 
after yesterday's rain