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, 27 February 2017

A journey to precision: vertical of Closel's Clos du Papillon

Evelyne de Pontbriand tutoring the vertical tasting 
Tasters in the magnificent surroundings of the Château des Vaults
(Domaine du Domaine de Closel)
On the evening of Monday 6th February – the second day of the 2017 Salon des Vins de Loire – we were invited to a vertical tasting of the Domaine du Closel's Clos du Papillon. The vertical ran from 2001 through to 2015 but without 2012 as none was made due to frost. We tasted from oldest to youngest, which made perfect sense as we could see the evolution in the purity and precision in the wines. At the end we were treated to two older bottles – 1992, which was not a very auspicious vintage, and 1989, which was a great vintage.
2001 was the first vintage that Evelyne took over from her mother –Michèle Bazin de Jessey. The Clos du Papillon overlooks the small village of Savennières sited just to the north.
Although the vineyards were grassed over when Evelyne took over  over, the vineyards were farmed and the wine made in a traditional manner. The wines tended to have a short fermentation and be given high doses of SO2. The period of fermentation has been extended and the vinification is now down in 400-litre barrels when before it was done in vat. Using cover crops.
Since 2001 Evelyne has taken from being traditional to firstly organic and now to being farmed biodynamically.  Conversion to organic viticulture began in 2006 with full certification in 2009, while biodynamic status was achieved in 2015. 
Yields have been reduced from 35/40 hl/ha down to 15-20hl/ha today. From 2009 using a software system to analyse the right time to pick the grapes. 
The vertical:
Light golden colour, honey and truffle, some texture but a little short.
Light to mid-gold, clearly taken on a lot of colour, honeyed evolved flavours, rich with fair balance. Loire wines from 2002 tend to be well-balanced. 6.4 gms of residual sugar. Among my favourites.
Honey and quince, rich but less interesting than the 2002 – an effect of this heatwave year?

Delicate honey aromas, attractively finely textured wine although a little dilute in the finish but considerable charm. 
Deep light gold colour, richly textured, botrytis – this is a rich oxidative style.
Hot dry summer and autumn.

Light gold colour, attractively textured wine with honeyed evolution, good length and nicely balanced. Among my favourites.
Light gold, honey and quince flavour with a touch of caramel, textured wine, the richness hides the acidity but the finish is a little short. 
Vineyard frosted. Honey and quince on nose and palate,some truffle too, texture, quite austere long finish. Aromas persist in the empty glass.Among my favourites.
Clean and precise with attractively vibrant texture, some honey character, noticeable acidity in long finish. There is a growing precision in the Papillon wines.  
 Richly and seductively textured with honey and quince character, lovely balance and length. Certainly amongst my favourites.
Still youthful wine, attractive texture and complexity, some toasty flavours along with a touch of caramel with good balancing acidity in the finish.   
Not made – severe April frost

Citric aromas and palate, quite austere finish reflecting this difficult vintage, precise but the wine falls away in the finish.

Floral and ripe fruit nose and palate, some barley sugar notes, very good length and very clean purity with some delicate wood notes. Still young but with impressive potential. Certainly amongst my favourites and shows the progress that has been made with the Papillon wines. 
Floral and citric – obviously still very youthful.
The two additional vintages:
This was a big vintage after the very severe frost of 1991. Wines were often dilute. Light gold, very oxidative style, nutty character but dilute in fish. Certainly reasonable for the vintage.
Showing the hallmarks of a great vintage. Ironically this wine shows the precision and vibrancy that Evelyne has to working for since she took over Closel. There is a little oxidative character but it is very restrained. Amazinly fresh – stunning wine! 
Many thanks to Evelyne and her team at Closel for a fascinating and most instructive tasting.

Ben Llewelyn of Carte Blanche Wines studying 
a carte of the vineyards of Savennières

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cycling in London: Close Pass Volkswagen Passat + Deliveroo Insanity

On Thursday I experienced two contrasting cycling incidents in London: the first involving a very close pass on the South Circular Road just by the Horniman Museum, while the second involved lunatic behaviour by a Deliveroo cyclist.

Passat close pass
Around 7.45 on Thursday morning I was walking down the South Circular to Forest Hill Station I saw two cyclists wearing high-visibility following each up the hill, which has two lanes one of them a bus lane. I was amazed to see a Passat pull across to the left into the bus lane. The driver must have seen the two cyclists but was determined to pass some of traffic to turn left into Sydenham Rise. This meant squeezing between the right hand lane traffic and the first cyclist, passing just inches away. 

An example of utterly thoughtless driving putting the cyclist into danger. I hope that the excellent West Midland Police Close Pass Initiative will be rolled out across the UK. Less to penalise drivers but to educate them that when passing cyclists they should make sure to give them plenty of space. 

Given that air pollution in London has recently shot up the political agenda, it surely makes sense to persuade people to make as many journeys on a bike or on foot as is practically possible. Close passing is a very significant factor in putting people of cycling. 

It doesn't help, of course, that some unsegregated 'cycle lanes' are ridiculously narrow and may encourage drivers to think that it is safe to pass close to cyclists.    

Deliveroo Lunacy – no back light
Later on Thursday early evening – just before 6pm returning to Forest Hill on a bus headed down the Walworth Road I watched a Deliveroo cyclist heading southwards. Dark clothes and no back light. I was unable to see whether he had a front light but it is probably safe to assume he didn't that as he had decided to dispense with a back light. 
Not only no back light but the Deliveroo rider rode straight through the red light at the junction with East Street. Just the sort of stupid behaviour that not only endangers the cyclist but equally important gives cyclists a bad name and builds antagonism that may well then encourage drivers to be thoughtless when sharing the road with cyclists. 

What I wonder are Deliveroo's policies regarding cycle lights and respecting red lights?