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 investdrinks.org

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, 22 January 2017

Champtoceaux: towards a new Muscadet Cru







Press release about the proposed new Muscadet cru in the Muscadet Coteaux du Loire appellation – Champtoceaux:
'Suite à la reconnaissance of cielle des trois premiers crus du Muscadet en 2011 (Clisson, Gorges, Le Pallet) et, à celle imminente des quatre prétendants prévue cette année (Château Thébaud, Goulaine, Monnières-Saint-Fiacre et Mouzillon-Tillières), trois autres crus suivent le mouvement, deux en Sèvre et Maine (La Haye Fouassière et Vallet) et un en Coteau de la Loire : Champtoceaux. A terme l’AOC Muscadet pourrait revendiquer en son sein 10 appellations communales, dénommées empiriquement « crus », symbole d’une révolution.


L’AOC Muscadet revendique sa mutation et édi e sa gamme. « La vision monolithique de l’appellation a eu pour conséquence d’enfermer nos vins dans des instants de consommation stéréotypés. L’objectif n’est pas de renier l’ADN du Muscadet avec sa mention « sur lie » mais de nous retrouver autour de notre socle, la singularité de notre cépage, le melon de Bourgogne et la fraicheur océanique et ligérienne de nos pro ls. » reconnait Thierry MARTIN, Président des crus du Muscadet qui poursuit : « Maintenant, nous devons raconter notre histoire et nos sols et mettre en lumière notre savoir-faire et c’est ici tout l’enjeu des crus comme à Champtoceaux. » Autour d’une vision premium de l’AOC, l’objectif est bien de coiffer la pyramide en valorisant la mosaïque insoupçonnée des sous- sols, le potentiel d’évolution du melon B et surtout le talent des vignerons, artisans de cuvées de style et de grande classe. 


Le cru muscadet Coteaux de la Loire Champtoceaux s’inscrit dans cette démarche. Les expériences de leurs collègues du Sèvre et Maine ont stimulé une poignée de vignerons, regroupés sur les magnifiques coteaux de la Loire, de part et d’autre de la ville d’Ancenis. Ainsi en 2014, l’association « Roches de Loire » constituée de neuf exploitations, est crée afin d’encadrer la reconnaissance d’une communale Muscadet en Coteaux de la Loire. 

Quite widely scattered special sites 
identified in Muscadet Coteaux du Loire  

Appuyé par uningénieur de la Fédération des Vins de Nantes et un animateur de la Chambre d’agriculture, le groupe de vignerons dynamiques et décomplexés, sonde ses parcelles, goûte les vins, travaille son positionnement an d’identier l’aire de délimitation, le profil du vin et le lien au terroir. 


À terme, pour la dizaine de domaines engagés dans la démarche, les volumes pourraient représenter 600 hl (soit autour de 10% du Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire), commercialisés en vente directe au caveau, en CHR et chez les cavistes majoritairement. 

« Ces démarches de crus donnent du statut et de la légitimité au vignoble ». Philippe Marchais, vigneron à Thouaré-sur-Loire en proximité immédiate de la métropole nantaise décrypte : « Le cru Champtoceaux est l’occasion de capter des nouvelles clientèles hédonistes et plus urbaines qui souhaitent des vins simples mais authentiques avec un supplément d’âme. » 

Ces vins trouvent aussi écho dans la restauration nantaise où l’intérêt suscité par les Vins de Nantes semble de toute évidence en pleine croissance avec des références qui colonisent sans complexe les cartes des plus belles tables. 


Les parcelles situées en aire d’AOC Coteaux de la Loire sont situées de part et d’autre de la Loire autour d’Ancenis entre le Vignoble de Nantes et l’Anjou. Elles sont le plus souvent proches de la Loire ou de ses af uents (Divatte, Erdre et Evre) sur des paysages ouverts favorisant la circulation des masses d’air et optimisant l’ensoleillement.'




Saturday, 21 January 2017

Utterly delicious 100% Groslot 2014, Famille Vaillant



I bought this from Ludo Ragot's clearance sale at Café de la Promenade (Bourgueil) just before he and Sophie handed over the bar. 100% Groslot or Grolleau, depending on which name you chose for this grape variety sold as a Vin de France this is a completely delicious red. From Famille Vaillant (Domaine des Grands Vignes) in Thouarcé Very soft with no impression of tannins and at 11% fairly light in alcohol, this just slips down a treat. Not a wine to analysis and anyway impossible as it disappears too quickly!

More evidence that Groslot/Grolleau can make delicious easy drinking reds in the Loire!    

Friday, 20 January 2017

Anita's adventures with La Petite Bouchée and a Forest Hill pop-up


Anita in La Petite Bouchée's January pop-up 
at All Inn One, Perry Vale, London SE23 



I fear I must lead a rather cloistered existence as I had never heard of the award-winning and quirky La Petite Bouchée restaurant in Sydenham Wells Park until I saw on Twitter that their Citroën van-based restaurant had been trashed on two occasions in November 2016. 

Anita-Clare Field was born in Shirley, just to the east of Croydon. She has clear memories of family holidays in France, especially in a small village in Anjou in the Loire Valley. 

For a number of years Anita worked in magazine publishing including stints with Emap and Wilmington Publishing, which at the time included Wine and Wine & Spirit magazines, which were then bought by William Read Business Media. She became training development director at Wilmington. We have some mutual friends and acquaintances including Chris Ashton, event director of The International Wine Challenge.

In 2010 she had a freak accident that led to dramatic life changes. Taking a labrador for a walk, Anita was pulled off balance when the dog decided to go for a cat. In the fall her arm was snapped in two. It took five operations and a Russian invention – a huge external fixator bolted to her arm – to bring her right arm back to 80% capacity – fortunately she ls left-handed. However, continuing with her publishing career was impossible. 

Naturally the pain making sleeping difficult and on 9th September 2012 Anita started her food blog – lover of creating flavours. Caroline Ness, Anita's partner and wife now looks after the blog. The blog evolved to include Heaven Preserve Us – a venture making pickles, chutneys etc. that they are sold at local markets, including Crystal Palace, and also on line.

In March 2014 Anita and Caroline bought a 1971 Citroën HY camper van that was intended to be used for to make the Heaven Preserve Us products. That was until Anita had a middle of the night vision of a few brightly checked cloth tables in the van with happy people eating and drinking. Anita and Caroline started work on the new project in the morning. 

After a trial run for a friend's birthday, La Petite Bouchée – the Citroën van restaurant – launched in Sydenham Wells Park on 9th August 2014. It was Caroline who came up with the name.


 Park & Dine experience in South London Park
(photos from La Petite Bouchée's Facebook page)



Despite me being completely oblivious to its presence hardly a mile away from where I live, La Petite Bouchée was a huge success serving French classics and attracting diners from all over London. 

Unfortunately May 2015 saw the first attack on La Petite Bouchée when someone broke the windows with a air rifle. It is thought to have been school kids. The windows were quickly replaced and the restaurant's success continued.

On Monday 14th November 2016 Anita and Caroline collected a Time Out Award for the best restaurant in the Sydenham area. Unfortunately their delighted very rapidly turned very sour. During the Thursday night (17th) the Citroën van was attacked with the windows being smashed in. The windows were rapidly repaired and Anita posted a defiant message on Facebook, which with hindsight proved ill advised as the following night (Friday 18th) who was responsible returned with a vengeance and comprehensively trashed the Citroën. This included smashing wine glasses, pictures etc. and pouring oil and balsamic vinegar over everything making it impossible for La Petite Bouchée to continue either in its current form or location.

The Citroën was moved out of the park on the Sunday and is now in the process of renovation

Anita remains completely mystified by the attacks. "All we wanted to do was to make people happy, so why trash our Citroën?!" 

Naturally Anita and Caroline were completely devastated and overwhelmed with grief by this vicious and mindless vandalism. The police have yet to catch the perpetrators but are convinced that it was premediated and that this time it wasn't school kids as on both nights the weather was foul – pouring rain and and very windy. 

All Inn One, Perry Vale, Forest Hill, London SE23 

However, reports of the attacks produced immediate support. Most importantly an offer within 24 hours to from Richard and Julia Channon of All Inn One in Forest Hill's Perry Vale to run a pop-up in their pub restaurant during January. 

"It was an amazing offer – have our kitchen for a month!" says Anita. "Our faith was restored."

La Petite Bouchée did a friend's birthday party on 3rd January at All Inn One but really launched their residency on 7th January and open Wednesday to Saturday. Time, however, is running out – this coming week will be their last as they close on 27th January, so three nights left – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Book here: on-line here or 020-8699 3311.

Anita, Caroline and the Citroën will soon be moving to mid-Devon where they have bought a house near Tiverton and some 40 miles drive from Exeter. La Petite Bouchée will have a new home. 

In February Anita will be appearing on television with a very famous but unnamed patriarch chef.  

It looks like the trashing of La Petite Bouchée Citroën will have a deservedly happy ending. 

Our meal at La Petite Bouchée:
(NB We paid in full for our meal which we thoroughly enjoyed – both the food and wine as well as the ambience.)


The restaurant at All Inn One




 Attractively easy-drinking Primitivo from Salento 
from the All Inn One wine list 


 Warming French onion soup
 
 Salmon rillettes

 Beef carbonnade
 
 Moules frites


 Almond tart