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

Monday, 3 August 2015

Margaret Rand and Oz Clarke: Grapes & Wines

Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand: Grapes & Wines
Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand: Grapes & Wines
Continuing my mini-series of recently published wine books, here is the new edition of Margaret Rand and Oz Clarke's Grapes & Wines – a comprehensive guide to varieties & flavours. First published in 2001 this edition has been substantially revised.
Comparisons with Wine Grapes (Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, José Vouillmoz) are inevitable but probably misplaced. Wine Grapes is a dense, scholarly and brilliant book appealing to hardened wine nuts, while Grapes & Wines is likely to have wider appeal being much more accessible and with many photos, maps and charts. Their vital statistics gives a clue – Wine Grapes weighs in at just over 3 kilos – a Mike Tyson heavyweight, while Grapes & Wines tops the scales at a much more modest 1.33 kilos.
No reason, of course why you shouldn't decide to buy both. However, I suspect for most wine lovers Margaret and Oz's new edition provides them with enough information and they are likely to enjoy their popular approach.
After some introductory sections, grapes varieties are ordered alphabetically with widely varying space devoted to them. Leading varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Garnacha, Merlot, Riesling and Syrah/Shiraz get at least five double pages covering an introduction, geography and history, viticulture and vinification, the grape around the world and enjoying the variety plus recommended wines.  Others varieties get just a few lines.
It is interesting to note how views have changed since the first edition appeared in 2001. Then there was still a belief in the leading five or six international varieties. Planting Chardonnay in hot climate Sicily still seemed a good idea in preferenece to the local varieties. The intervening 14 years has taught us that there is a strong connection between local climate and the appropriate grape varieties to plant. It has also been a great revival of interest in local and other grape varieties.
A few small quibbles: Oz and Margaret have missed the recent revival of interest in Loire Grolleau as a juicy, easy drinking red wine to be drunk young amongst friends. The dreaded term 'dessert wine' makes an appearance in the section on Loire – I would have hoped that Margaret would have banned such nonsense!
Margaret Rand
Margaret Rand: the lady wears purple
Grapes & Wines is published by Pavilion, £25, 336 pages. Picture credits include: Jon Wyand, Doug Wregg, Cephas – Mick Rock, Kevin Judd and Andy Christodolo.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Jacky Blot and François Chidaine squeezed out of Vouvray – an update

François Chidaine and Jacky Blot with their Vouvrays

Last week I spoke to Jacky Blot to find out if there had been any change to the ban on Jacky Blot and François Chidaine vinifying their Vouvray in the commune of Montlouis. Jacky gave me an update: the situation was unchanged but he had recently sent a detailed letter to the current director of the INAO. To date François and Jacky have not commenced legal proceedings. 

However, if I have correctly understood the legal position – see this post on Les 5 du Vin – the INAO in Paris would surely not welcome having to defend before the Conseil d'Etat (France's Supreme Court) the part of the 2009 Vouvray décret that has been used to stop Blot and Chidaine from vinifying their Vouvray in Montlouis. It would appear that the INAO would have to convince the judges that Montlouis is not a neighbouring commune of Vouvray and that the permission to vinify his Vouvray in the commune of Montlouis given to Jacky Blot by the INAO in September 1999. 

This would certainly be a tall order for the INAO, as by the bridge across the Loire, the southern limit of Vouvray is on the south bank of the Loire touching Montlouis. Nor, in the September 1999 letter to Jacky Blot from the INAO, was there any mention of a time limit to the permission to vinify Vouvray in the Montlouis commune.

Will the director of the INAO be prepared to tell Vouvray that the relevant part of the 1999 décret cannot be defended? À suivre!     


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Two brilliantly creative meals – part 1: Taberna da Rua Flores, Lisbon

Fortunately André Magalhães was released 
from his beer prison to cook for us this evening

At André's Taberna you order a series of 
small dishes from the blackboard  

Readers of previous posts will know how enthusiastic we are over André Magalhães' brillantly inventive cooking at his tiny Taberna da Rua Flores, Lisbon. Each time we are in Lisbon we try to eat there – we were back there in mid-July. 

This will be a two-part post as more recently we made a wonderful dinner at Roger Jones' The Harrow in Little Bedwyn. I don't know whether Roger and André know of each other or have met but I suspect that they may well have a lot in common.   

Fantastic (horse) mackerel dish: picadinho de carapau

Just seared tuna (above and below)

André's signature dish – his take on fish and chips

Branco Especial, Quinta dos Carvalhais kindly brought by André Riberinho
A blend of several vintages this remarkable white was only made once 

Even for bears space is at a premium in this tiny restaurant...

The lamb cutlets went before I could take a photo!

Duck livers 

Special 15-YO fortified wine 

Suicide by chocolate!

Address: Rua das Flores 103, 1200-194 Lisboa, Portugal

Friday, 31 July 2015

Vignes, Vins, Randos: 2015 edition: 6th and 7th September

Details of one of the Loire's most popular wine events – Vignes, Vins, Randos. This year held on Saturday 6th September and Sunday 7th September.  





Événement incontournable de l’oenotourisme en Vade Loire, “Vignes, Vins, Randos” ce sont 16 balades vigneronnes hautes en couleur ! Les vignerons et négociants des appellations du Vade Loire se mobilisent pour vous faire découvrir leur terroir sur fond de paysages inscrits au patrimoine mondiade l’humanité par l’Unesco et de bonheurs partagés. 

En 2014, c’est plus de 10 000 randonneurs qui étaient au rendez-vous !

En famille ou entre amis, passez un moment conviviaen compagnie des vignerons et des négociants du Vade Loire, pour découvrir de magnifiques paysages de vignes et la diversité des appellations ligériennes. Muni du kit du randonneur et accompagné d’un vigneron, vous partez pour une balade conviviale ponctuée de pauses dégustations & découverte du patrimoine. Au retour, le village VVR vous propose des gourmandises, des animations, et la vente des vins que vous avez dégustés.  

Des parcours de 6/8km – 3h environ

Des parcours famille avec vos bambins, de 1h/1h30 environ (kit randonneur

pour chaque enfants). Les enfants pourront gambader dans les vignes sans
qu’ils finissent sur vos épaules !

Samedi 5 septembre – départs entre 14h et 15h30
Coteaux d’ancenis – départs de Champtoceaux
Savennières & Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines - départs de Savennières
Bonnezeaux - départs de Thouarcé
Saumur-champigny - départs de Varrains
Saint-nicolas-de-bourguei- départs de Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourguei
Chinon- départs de Beaumont-en-Véron
Touraine-mesland - départs de Mesland
Jasnières et coteaux-du-loir – départs de Ruillé-sur-Loir  

Dimanche 6 septembre – départs entre 8h30 et 9h30

Muscadet cotes de Grandlieu et gros plant - départs des Moutier-en-Retz
Muscadet sèvre-et-maine Gorges - départs de Gorges
Anjou-villages-brissac et coteaux-de-l’aubance - départs de Saint-Melaine-sur-Aubance
Chinon - départs de Beaumont-en-Véron
Touraine-azay-le-rideau - départs de Cheillé-le-Bourg
Vouvray - départs de Vernou-sur-Brenne
Touraine & touraine-chenonceaux - départs de Civray-de-Touraine

NOUVEAUTÉ 2015: Saumur brut fines bulles
Samedi 5 septembre
Départs entre 14h et 15h30
Un nouveau parcours est à découvrir : Saumur brut fines bulles. Au départ de la ville de Saumur et de son majestueux château, visitez les maisons de fines bulles et découvrez la méthode d’élaboration traditionnelle en traversant des lieux habituellement fermés au public.

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