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

Friday, 22 August 2014

The rather poignant Ferguson ferry to Raasay.

 The spanking new ferry – Hallaig – across to Raasay

The ferry (Hallaig) that plies its trade on the short crossing from Sconser on 'mainland' Skye to the island of Raasay is one of the last two boats to be built at Ferguson, shipbuilders in Port Glasgow. It was launched in 2013. Sadly Ferguson, the last commercial shipyard on the lower Clyde, collapsed into administration last week. There are three bids on the table to save the company – it remains to be seen who will be successful and then whether they can keep Ferguson as a going concern.

The launch of the Hallaig in 2013 and the latest news on shipbuilders Ferguson

Hallaig ferry

 The launch of the Hallaig in 2013

 The Hallaig docked@Raasay (above and below)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Skye's the limit: a few photos from a day on the island

Leaving Sconser for Raasay 

We spent part of the day on the island of Raasay and then drove right round the Trotternish Peninsula. Day was a mix of sunshine and showers, whereas yesterday was mainly wet.   

 Approaching Raasay 

 The handsome Raasay House now 
owned by the community and saved from ruin

Amazingly despite neglect and the fire the lovely 
wooden panelling of the library is still intact.

 The Cuillins from Raasay House (above and below)

 The shrouded Cuillins

Yacht just off Raasay

Hillside ruin on Raasay

Looking towards mainland Scotland

The Old Man of Storr (above and below)

From Trotternish towards the Western Isles – 
Harris and North Uist in far distance

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

From Vineyards Direct (Ireland): Stuart when will Pat get his wine?

 Twitter (26th July 2014): Stuart Smith to Pat  – 'Your 11's are lying lcb'

The twitter conversation that lead to response 
from Stuart Smith (From Ireland's From Vineyards Direct)

 Stuart Smith: managing director at From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) Ltd 
 Smith's background
Back on 25th and 26th July I was briefly involved in a Twitter conversation about From Vineyards Direct Ireland Ltd. A Pat Casey contacted Tom Doorley (Food and drinks writer and broadcaster, Irish Daily Mail columnist) to inquire whether From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) Ltd was still trading. Casey had bought en primeur two cases of 2011 Bordeaux from the company – a case of Beaumont and one of Potensac but had yet to receive his wines, despite the wines being listed for sale on-line.

Casey contacted Stuart Smith in early April this year. Pat Casey reports that Stuart Smith: 'told me they were at LCB and would get back to me.  That’s the last I heard from him! I sent a few more emails with no response over the course of a couple of months.'

However, as we can see the twitter conversation did finally produce a response from Stuart Smith, whose Linkedin page describes him as managing director of From Vineyards Direct (Ireland).

Soon after Smith sent Casey this email on 30th July 2014:   

What’s a good number to call you on – I’ve arranged to have the wine shipped on our next pallet from LCB in the UK. Will either be here late next week or on the Monday the week after.

Apologies for the delay, but as I mentioned on twitter I ahve been on compassionate leave and this has caused huge issues.

Best Regards,


Stuart Smith
From Vineyards Direct Ireland Ltd
'The Workshop'
35 Yellow Walls Road
Co Dublin
01 845 7645 or 087 7580230'

According to Stuart Smith, Casey should have received his wine by Monday 11th August (2014). Sadly the two cases of wine have yet to arrive and Stuart Smith is again proving very difficult to contact as an email from Casey today (20.8.2014): 

'Just to keep you updated: nothing much to report unfortunately! After his Twitter post of 26th July, I received an email from Stuart at FVDIE on 30th July (copied below) stating that my wine would be available within two weeks; I forwarded my phone number to him that day. I’ve heard nothing since though; this includes no response to an email I sent on 12th August enquiring as to when I would receive either my wine or a refund.

Who knew it was so difficult to buy decent wine?!'


Hopefully this is an isolated case. However, according to Duedil the last acconts filed for From Vineyards Direct (Ireland) are to 31st December 2011 and showed 500K of liabilities. The accounts to 31st December 2012 now overdue. On 14th February 2014 the original directors, including 44 year-old Stuart Smith, all resigned – see:     

Pat Casey was told back in early April that his 2011s were at LCB (London City Bond). if this was true, why is he still waiting to receive his wine, please?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Off to Skye and John O'Groats + Eilean Donan

Looking across to Skye from Applecross

Today we started our now annual exploration of parts of Scotland. Setting off to Skye to Edinbane, where we are staying at Shorefield House. After three nights in Skye we will head up to John O'Groats to stay in one of the Natural retreats chalets there.

The weather threatens to be decidedly autumnal for the second half of August with sunshine and showers and temperatures in the low teens.   


The chalets  outside and inside

On the way to Skye: Eilean Donan Castle
We stopped to take some photos of this hugely popular attraction, which is just a few miles east of the Kyle of Lochalsh and the bridge across to Skye.  

 Eilean Donan glimpsed through the trees

A couple of holidaymakers