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, 25 April 2015

24.4.15: CWW AGM @New Zealand House on Sauvignon Blanc Day

 A welcome glass of No1 at the end of formal business

Toasting the end of formal business

Yesterday The Circle of Wine Writers held their 55th AGM in the offices of the New Zealand Winegrowers. The AGM was followed by a tasting of 140 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs at the top of New Zealand, which has stunning views over London.  

Circle's 55th AGM saw Rosemary George MW taking over as our President as Steven Spurrier is stepping down at the end of his term of office. Bob Campbell MW was elected as our first Vice-President based outside the UK. His fellow Vice-President is Oz Clarke, also elected yesterday. Seven committee members were elected: Kathy Burk, Michael Edwards (re-elected), Keith Grainger, Colin Hampden-White, Caroline Henry, Helena Nicklin and Liz Sagues. 

Following the formal business Rosemary George MW gave a presentation on the current state of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Bob Campbell MW was originally due to give this talk but around a month ago he injured his Achilles Tendon in the gym, so was unable to travel from New Zealand. Quite what ferocious exercise Bob was undertaking that caused this unfortunate injury is unclear. We are very grateful to Rosemary for taking over. Before Rosemary gave her presentation we were served a glass of No1 New Zealand sparkling wine.

Then we repaired to the top floor for the tasting of the 140 New Zealand Sauvignon going back to the 2007 vintage. Roger Jones, the very talented owner and chef at The Harrow, Little Bedwyn and CWW member prepared delicious canapés to try matching with selected Sauvignon Blancs.

My thanks to NZ Winegrowers for allowing us to use their premises for our AGM. 

 Tasting of 140 NZ Sauvignon Blancs underway

 Roger Jones@work

 Views from the top of New Zealand House 




Friday, 24 April 2015

2015 Le Salon de l'AOC Chinon: Saturday 25th April

Les vignerons dans la ville 8ème édition

Pour la huitième année consécutive, les vignerons de l’AOC Chinon font leur salon au cœur de la ville de Chinon.
Venez découvrir le millésime 2014.

Au programme de cette journée printanière :
- dégustation de vins de plus de 50 vignerons de Chinon,
- défilé de la Confrérie des Bons Entonneurs Rabelaisiens à 10H30,
- expositions des métiers de bouches et artisans locaux,
- Musique et animation à retrouver de place en place,
- Les Toquès du vin : démonstrations culinaires tout au long de la journée
- expérience unique et originale à vivre avec l'institut de dégustation
Dans une ambiance conviviale et familiale découvrez ou redécouvrez l’art de vivre en pays Chinonais.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Bonds against the scammers

Representatives from EHD and London City Bond (LCB) met with me on Tuesday 21st April in Central London to discuss launching a new initiative – Bonds against the Scammers. In particular they will now be sharing information with each other and investdrinks about scam wine investment companies. 

Although in competition with each other, EHD and LCB are committed to making life difficult for wine investment scammers. This is certainly business that they do not want.

It is not wanted because wine should be enjoyable and they do not want to see their customers being ripped off. It is also not wanted because when things go wrong and the scam company goes bust or disappears, then it is usually the bonded warehouse that is left to pick up the pieces. Left to deal with understandably upset and irate investors, who may often have sunk a significant proportion of their life savings into wine they either doesn’t exist or for which they have been charged far too much.

Although the bonded warehouses are not in any way part of these scams, it is not surprising that some defrauded investors unfortunately assume that the bonded warehouses are somehow part of the scam.

HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) and the money laundering regulations require bonded warehouses to carry out due diligence on customers wishing to open accounts. It is clear that these regulations put the emphasis on those wanting to open accounts to prove that they are legitimate.

LCB and EHD already do refuse to open accounts for companies they consider dubious as well as closing or freezing accounts of companies or individuals whose accounts arouse suspicion.

Often scammers refused an account at one bonded warehouse will apply to another bonded warehouse in the hope of slipping through. EHD and LCB agreeing to share information on companies and individuals refused an account or who arouse suspicion will make life more difficult for the scammers.

The bonds will also exchange information on their due diligence procedures and see how far these can be coordinated.  

We hope that other bonds especially other third party warehouses like Octavian will join in this initiative. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

SkinCôntactLIVE: great result £10,671.73 for Comic Relief

Many congratulations to Richard Hemming and all involved in the organisation and success of Skin ContactLIVE on such a great result. Here is a final selection on photos from the gig. A gig that persuaded me to buy a couple of CDs from Curiosity killed the Cat plus one from Gene.

 The powerhouse drummer of Gene still laying it down

 Audience loving it 

Gettin' it on!  Ali and Jancis 
(above and below)


 Skeggie's finest...

Charles II @SkinCôntact

A last word from Richard