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, 20 September 2017

2017 Loire – Sancerre

After spending one and a half days in Sancerre visiting a number of producers, the quality of 2017 appears to be promising as it does so far in the other parts of the Loire where I have had the opportunity to taste either the new pressed juice or those that have now started to ferment. All the juices appear to be very clean and precise.

On the whole the potential alcohol degrees are mainly between 12.5% - 13% with acidity between 5.0 and 5.5 giving a good balance. 

There is, however, a considerable difference in the ripeness depending on the parcels and sectors. 

Clément Pinard, Domaine Vincent Pinard (Monday 18th September)
"I'm super happy. We started picking our Sauvignon on Friday 8th September and have finished today  we visited – Monday 18th. The alcohol levels are between 12.3% and 13.1% with the acidity varying between 5.3 and 5.4 giving us a good balance. We have a new cuvée called Le Château from a one hectare plot in Bué.   

We  will start picking the Pinot Noir tomorrow." 

However, as it poured with rain on Tuesday morning they may have delayed the start slightly.

In contrast Pascal Joulain of Domaine Michel Vattan in Maimbray only started picking today. Admittedly Maimbray is higher than Bué and cooler. "I have waited until the grapes are properly ripe. They are very clean and healthy so there has been no rush to start," said Pascal.

(Other comments from Sancerre producers to be added soon.)   


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

2017 Loire – Sancerre - some photos of the harvest (18.9.17)

Victory sign from Jean-Laurent Vacheron 
busy shifting palettes of Sauvignon grapes 

 Hod carriers on the edge of Clos de la Poussie (Bué)
(above and below)

 Pickers near Amigny 

 Sancerre in the shade, vineyards in sunshine 
– signs of picking.

White vans rool OK! 

Vincent Pinard: prototype design for the new
– Le Chàteau design by Clément Pinard's 5 year old son

Fuller report on 2017 vintage at Sancerre to come shortly.

Monday, 18 September 2017

2017 Loire – good news for a change in Menetou-Salon

 The view eastwards from Menetou-Salon
 towards Parassy and Morogues 

Following the Loire vintage is always fascinating. No two years are the same – each one has their different challenges. Overall, from what we have seen in the Pays Nantais, Touraine, Menetou-Salon and Sancerre, there should be some very good wine made this year. All the juices I have tasted this year to date have been round with variable degrees of potential alcohol. Generally rich, ripe fruit – often around 13% with the acidity between 5 and 5.4, so well balanced. 

On our way over from Touraine we first dropped in on Philippe Gilbert, just on the eastern edge of the small town of Menetou-Salon. In contrast to last year when he made virtually nothing, 2017 has given him a good harvest. Philippe started slowly on 11th September on his Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes are coming in around 12.0 to 12.8˚ with acidities around 4.7. 

After last year's  shockingly small vintage in in Menetou-Salon it is good to see that producers like Philippe Gilbert have been blessed with a generous harvest. Last Tuesday (12th September) they harvested as much, if not more, of what they picked last year in total.

Philippe is bringing in 50 hl/ha for his Pinot Noir for rosé, while his whites are fine at around 55/60 hl/ha. 2017 is a generous harvest. This often happens after a severe frost, which gives the vines a rest, so the following year they tend to produce big harvest. This happened in in 1992 following the severe frost of 1991. 

After a week of harvesting they have about another ten days left. The contrast between Philippe's demeanour of last year and this is very marked. He is now a 'happy boy'!  

Wednesday will be 'Les Vendanges pour les Copains'. Under this laudable initiative Philippe and his team will be picking for friends like Fred Niger in Muscadet, who have been very severely affected by the April frosts. It provides them with some wine that hopefully will keep them afloat in these difficult times.     
Domaine Henri Pellé
The news here was also very positive: they started on Thursday 7th September – a day before the actual Ban des Vendanges. Again 2017 is a generous harvest with 60 hl/ha for their Sauvignon Blanc, while they are getting 50 hl/ha at 13% potential for the Pinot Noir. We tasted some of the juices for the Sauvignon Blanc, which were impressive – good fruit, very clean and well balanced with attractive freshness in the finish.  

Most of the picking so far has been in their vineyards in the commune of Menetou-Salon. Only now are they picking in Morogues, which is a little higher in altitude, so ripens a little later. 

In the Pellé vines Les Blanchais:
We visited Les Blanchais near Morogues where there was a big team of more than 50 pickers.    

 One of the Pellé pickers

 One of the pickers

Drowning in vines......?

 Capped picker

 Carrying a hod up and down 
the slope is tough work

Trailer @the bottom of the slope

Les Blanchais is a steeply sloping vineyard