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

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

2017 Loire: David Vigan (Château du Breuil)

 Château du Breuil, Beaulieu sur Layon

After our quick visit to the Quarts de Chaume we bumped into David Vigan, who has been the régisseur at Château du Breuil since 2006. Time for a quick chat about the 2017 vintage.

David explained that they had started picking for their Crémant at the end of August before moving onto their dry whites. He was pleased with the quality and commented on the very expressive aromas from the reds during fermentation. The Cabernets, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon had come in at 14% potential. Yields from their Grolleau were low due to frost and then the drought. There was little juice in the berries. 

Like many others they had been badly hit by frost in Savennières. They normally make between 7000-7500 litres there but this year there will be just 1000 litres.  

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Wines @La Promenade, Le Petit Pressigny on 6th October 2017

Michel Autran, Cap à l'ouest, 
Brut Nature, Vin de France
based in Vouvray 

Seven of us gathered for a celebratory lunch at La Promenade, Le Petit Pressigny on Friday 6th October. We started with Michel Autran's lovely sparkling wine, which is fermented in barrel and then transferred to bottle. Brightly clean and crisp, this underlines how good Michel's wine have become. 

Then for our first courses and the fish we briefly left the Loire for Burgundy and this fine Saint-Aubin. Then we came back to the Loire with a bang with a duo of Foucaults – their Saumur-Champigny 2010 and 2011. It was the 2011 that Xavier Fortin, the star sommelier at La Promenade, had on the list. Very kindly he let us have one of his last 2010s that he had squirreled away someone. 

The contrast between the 2010 and 2011 was fascinating. The 2011 is still fairly closed with quite marked acidity in the finish. In contrast the 2010 is a real delight with lovely texture, some opulence, complexity and length. Xavier believes that with more time in bottle the 2011 will equal the 2010. Maybe but I am far from sure.  

It was very good to be able to drink these two Foucault wines as you have to wonder whether under the new ownership these wines will become even more expensive.  

2012 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Clos de la Chatenière Vieilles Vignes 
Hubert Lamy

2010 and 2011 Saumur Champigny 
Clos Rougeard, Frères Foucault

Monday, 16 October 2017

2017 Loire – Quarts de Chaume: Grand Cru status comes with responsibilities

 Track to Les Martinières

After visiting Domaines de la Bergerie and Ogereau last Tuesday we had a very quick look at what fruit was left to pick in the Quarts de Chaume. We took part of the the track up to Les Martinières. 

With no claims that what I saw was representative of the Grand Cru appellation this year – we only looked at a small part and this is well into the harvest – but the fruit management looked worrying variable. On some vines there were clumps of  bunches with individual vines looking to carry a substantial weight of grapes. Under the 2011 regulations that set up Quarts de Chaume Grand Cru the maximum weight of grapes on each individual vine is set at 1.7 kilos – for the remaining Vignes Larges (more widely spaced vines) 2.5 kilos are allowed. 

I have been a strong supporter of Quarts de Chaume becoming a Grand Cru, which it did in 2011. However, the Grand Cru status surely imposes certain responsibilities and accepting a commitment to very high quality on all of the producers. There are 20 producers with just 29 hectares in the Quarts de Chaume. Given that two producers – Baumard and Suronde – have some 12 of these 29 hectares – that means that the average for the remaining 18 producers is less than a hectare. Allied this with the status of grand cru and price that these wines can command, there should be no excuse for less than impeccable viticulture in the Quarts de Chaume. Otherwise the consumer is being taken for a ride, which is exactly the reason I have been critical of Baumard's methods.

Grand cru viticulture?  
You cannot be serious!    

I should make it clear that none of the vines in the photos below belong to Domaine des Baumard. On this occasion we didn't have time to visit any of their parcels.

Mix of botrytis and golden grapes 
– typical of Chenin's variable ripening 
– on this well spaced out bunch

Similarly above and below

Some spread out bunches but two clumps 
– just 1.7 kilos of grapes on this vine? 

Surely the bunches on these vines should have been thinned 
Is this viticulture of grand cru standard? 
(above and two below) 

Grand Cru viticulture?