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

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Porto: some lovely parts but serious investment required

 Porto: Majestic in parts – inside the famous eponymous café

 View of the Douro, Porto on right and 
Vila Nova de Gaia on left


 Dom Luís Bridge: trams above – road below


 From Porto through to Vila Nova de Gaia

 Remarkable cacti garden close to the Douro

Parts of Porto are magnificent but you have to walk around the centre not to notice that there are a lot of abandoned or rundown buildings. To a far greater extend than is the case in Lisbon when a lot of buildings have been renovated over the past ten years or so.  

Porto: a city in need of care?

An abandoned block in the centre

Overgrown and abandoned buildings close to the Douro


Vila Nova de Gaia

Monday, 28 July 2014

2014 Bourgueillothérapie: Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th September – raising money for La Croix Rouge

Jim with a new shirt that is waiting to be auctioned for charity 
on Sunday 14th@Bourgueil 
... but what's the wine?

2013: the auction in progress

Bourgueillothérapie is a unique event blending wine tasting with art based around the appellations of Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. It is organised by Ludo and Sophie Ragot of Café de la Promenade in Bourgueil with Sébastien David (Domaine Sébastien David).

Over the weekend the artists create works of art – pictures, sculptures etc, while based with a vigneron or group of vignerons. These are then auctioned off for charity on the Sunday afternoon. Each year the proceeds go to a different charity. This year it is La Croix Rouge (The Red Cross).   


Saturday 13th September
The artists set themselves up with their vignerons and start work. This year there is a change instead of having each producer host an artist, the producers and their artists will be grouped together. There will be four zones: Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Restigné, the east of the appellation and Café de la Promenade for the vignerons invited from other Loire appellations.
This new arrangement will mean less driving for those wanting to visit the artists in situ and also less chance of getting lost. In the past some of the venues were not very well signposted.

Samedi 13 sept
: les artistes s’installent avec les vignerons dans quatre zones de dégustation dans le vignoble  (afin d’éviter de perdre des promeneurs en route et afin de raccourcir le circuit).
A Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil : Gérald Vallée, Sébastien David, Fréderic Mabileau, Les Vallettes, Xavier Amirault, Les frères Boisard, Laurent  Herlin
A Restigné : Domaine de la Chevalerie, Domaine Pierre et Catherine Breton, Domaine Georget , Domaine du Rochouard, Pierre Borel, Galbrun.  
A l’est de l’appellation
: Château Minière, Xavier Courant et Les Frères Nau
A La Promenade
: les invités hors appellation : Loic Terquem, Romain Guiberteau, Pascal Lambert, La Source du Ruault, Gérad Marula, Wilfrid Rousse, Antoine Sanzay et Vini Be Good.

Details of the three first three venues to come. 

Dimanche 14 sept
: 10 h dégustation sous les halles de Bourgueil puis cochon de lait à la broche à 13 h et dans la foulée à 15 h la vente aux enchères . Cette année les bénéfices seront donnés à la Croix Rouge.

Le jury sera parrainé par Jean-François Carmet

Even though July is not yet over we already have one piece of art ready to be auctioned – a new shirt for Jim.

Jim's new shirt and a glass of what?

More scenes from last year's auction:

Sébastien David with one of the paintings

Last year's crowd 

The well-heeled auctioneer..

Sunday, 27 July 2014

2014 Tour de France: Kittel wins Parisian King Sprint – Nibali crowned

Marcel Kittel won his second successive stage on the Champs Elysée having won last year. This time he beat Alexander Kristoff into second place. Kristoff was in the lead as the line approached by Kittel had his characteristic strength to put in a last spurt in the fianl 50 metres or so that moved him clear and won the stage. This takes Marcel Kittel's overall stage total to 8 – 4 wins in 2013 and 4 this year, so he is beginning to move into exalted company!

Vincenzo Nibali was duly crowned as the 2014 Tour de France winner. There was no change overall, although the time gaps have changed as little as Nibali made sure he rode over the finishing line with his team, so Jean-Christophe Peraud, for instance, gained a few seconds. When you are leading by well over seven minutes a few seconds lost on the final stage changes nothing.

Nibali has now won all three Grand Tours – France, Italy and Spain. He joins only five other riders who have managed this feat: Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador.  

Nibali is a very worthy winner – he has clearly been the best rider in this year's Tour. You can speculate what would have happened if Chris Froome and Alberto Contador hadn't crashed out of this year's Tour but what is important is that Nibali finished and they didn't. I fancy that if Froome hadn't crashed and injured himself on Stage 4 from Le Touquet to Lille, it is very likely that he would have lost considerable time to Nibali on the cobbles the next day.

Le Tour 2014 has been great for France with two French riders on the podium – Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot along with Romain Bardet in sixth. Of course, Pinot also has the White Jersey as the best young rider. 

The Tour de France continues to become increasingly global with Ramunas Navardauskas as the first Lithuanian stage winner and Rafa Majka as Poland's first winner of the Climbers' Jersey. Ji Cheng, clear winner of La Lanterne Rouge at 6.02:24 down on Nibali, is the first Chinese rider to compete in the Tour and the first to finish. 


Earlier in the day Marianne Vos deservedly won the first La Course - the race on the Champs Elysée for women. See details here

2014 Tour de France: the finale + La Course

 Stage 21: Evry to Paris Champs Elysées 137.5 kms

Today the riders cover the last 137.5 kilometres of the 3653 km total of the 2014 Tour de France. It will be a procession and celebration until the peloton reaches the Champs Elysées, where the racing will begin. The stage tends to finish in a bunch sprint. Marcel Kittel won last year beating André Griepel and Mark Cavendish. Will Kittel win again this year. Quite probably but it depends on how tired he is after the mountains. If it isn't Marcel then I'll go for either Griepel or Alexander Kristoff, who has already won two stages. 

Barring accidents the Jerseys and the podium places have been decided with Vincenzo Nibali, the overall winner of the 2014 Tour and Jean-Christophe Peraud second and Thibaut Pinot third wearing the White Jersey as Best Young Rider. Peter Sagan is the easy winner of the Green Points Jersey, while Rafa Majka has the Climbers' Jersey. 

La Course
This is a race for women and will be held on the Champs Elysées over 90 kilometres. It will precede the men's stage and the is result of a successful campaign to reintroduce a women's race at the same time as the Tour as used to be the case in the past. It is hoped that the La Course 2014 will be start of a  annual women's French stage race. 

World Champion Marianne Vos is the favourite.