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

Sunday, 23 April 2017

London Marathon – 23rd April 2017

Woolwich Common – the race approaches 

I spent part of today watching some of the London Marathon in particular with the idea of supporting a friend who was running. My plan was to watch the race early on and then head to Surrey Quays and Canada Water. The first part worked perfectly as I got to Woolwich Common just in  time to see the passage of the Elite Men. 

There was also plenty of space so that it was easy to applaud the runners and encourage individuals. However, such was the density of runners that I completely missed my friend.  

The pack of Elite Men 

 Not quite so fast but still speedy – above and below 

It was noticeable that even at the two mile mark there were some participants who were already getting very tired. Wonder how much training some of these stragglers had actually done.  

Further into the race: 

Surrey Quays – the crowds get thicker 

Jamaica Road – crowds four and five deep.
Impossible to watch while holding a bike 
so I headed home

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Loire Millésime: 19th-22nd April 2017 – musicians @Ackerman Cellars

Musicians – poles apart

On Thursday night we had an enjoyabe evening in the cellars of Ackerman in Saint-Hilaire Saint-Florent. We were fortunate to have talented musicians throughout the evening.   

 Mr Sax – a series 
(above and below)

The Trio

Duo picking up shards of a broken glass

The Band of Medics 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Loire Millésime - 19th-22nd April 2017 – chasing after Rabelais.

Statue of François Rabelais beside the Vienne

Yesterday we followed in the footsteps of François Rabelais, author, man of many talents and the renowned promoter of the wines of Chinon. This included a visit to the Rabelais Museum at La Devinière in Seuilly.

 Vines @La Devinière, birthplace of Rabelais  
(above and below)

Young buds to date not 
affected by the recent frosts

 The pigeonnier @La Devinière

Eminent wine writer @ease

View of Chinon from South Bank of the Vienne
after a very dry winter
Vienne: Looking upstream
with statue of Rabelais on left close to the trees 

Inside the Caves Painctes, Chinon:

Poster advertising the works of Rabelais


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Loire Millésime @Fontevraud – 19th-22nd April 2017: a few portraits

Benjamin Delobel

Benjamin Delobel is a young vigneron based in the Oisly area of Touraine. Originally from the Pas de Calais he started his own domaine three years ago. He has 12-hectares of vines mainly planted with Sauvignon Blanc, which he farms organically. 

Domaine Olga Raffault

Sylvie Raffault is the grand daughter of Olga Raffault.

Loire Millésime – Fontevraud 19th - 22nd April 2017 – some fine bottles from dinner

 2010 Les Rogeries, Anjou Blanc, Domaine Richou
Grand vin d'Anjou from a lovely vintage

We had a very enjoyable opening dinner last night with some fine bottles. Unfortunately the cold temperatures overnight here in the Loire with the threat of another vintage hit by frost rather subdues the pleasure these wines gave. 
 1989 Les Picasses, Olga Raffault, Chinon
1989 one of the great Loire vintages 
and a treat to drink this excellent Chinon
with the typical ripe richness of 1989 

1992 Savennières Roche aux Moines, Domaine aux Moines  
Quite austere, still youthful from a difficult vintage 
that followed the frost of 1991
Made by Monique Laroche 

2007 Jubilation Le Pallet, Les Vignerons du Pallet
2007 was their first vintage of Cru Communaux 
Around 24 months on the lees
More evidence that Muscadet ages well.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Loire Millésime – Fontevraud: 19th-22nd April 2017

L'Abbaye de Fontevraud

Now back in the Loire for a few days staying at the Hotel attached to the Abbaye de Fontevraud for the first edition of Loire Millésime. The hotel has been extensively and finely renovated since I last stayed here. 

I was back on the Eurostar early this morning and then had a make a fast change from the Gare du Nord and Montparnasse as I had only 45 minutes between trains. Fortunately my Eurostar was right on time and my carriage was close to the barrier. I always take Metro line 4, which is quite quick despite having a lot of stops. However, this was complicated because Line 4 platforms at Montparnasse are currently closed as the line is updated. 

This meant getting off at Saint-Placide, the stop before, and walking the half mile or so to Montparnasse. Of course there were signs to show you which way to go. Luckily Le Tour de Montparnasse is a tall and distinctive landmark. I made it with around 15 minutes to spare.  

As the photos show it is a magnificently bright sunny afternoon. Unfortunately the forecast is for the temperature to drop overnight with a low in some places down to -3˚ which could be very bad news for some Loire producers. Last night the low temperatures hovered around zero. Marielle Henrion used a helicopter early this morning to stir up the cold air to raise its temperature a little. On our drive from St Pierre des Corps to Fontrevaud we passed by Aulée and saw the helicopter parked there ready to be used overnight. 

For the moment it is quite windy but this may well drop overnight. Fortunately the ground is very dry so this may help. Fingers etc. crossed but this is definitely squeaky bum time. 

The Loire cannot afford another bad frost like last year.  

Lovely blossom – hope it won't be hit tonight!


Part of the interior 
"Could you pass the salt dear?"

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The adventure (4): The Karst landscape – Guilin to Yangshou

Chinese tourism – a small armada of boats 
sets off down the River Li (Guilin to Yangshuo)

After a night in Guilin we had a boat trip down the River Li to Yangshuo with the famous limestone Karst hills as the main feature. These steep hills are a recurring theme in Chinese landscape paintings. 

The cold, damp day with its swirling mists was a classic, although we would have preferred a rather warmer day...

 The limestone Karst hills shrouded with the obligatory mist

 Fellow boat passengers
(above and below)

 The national passion – taking photos of each other

Modern pedal power