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




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?













 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

2007 – two whites showing very well – Saumur and Chinon

2007 Chinon,  Château de Saint Louand (Baudry-Dutour)
2007 Saumur Château de Villeneuve 


Here are white Loires now at ten years old – both 100% Chenin Blanc, both showing extremely well and surely good for a number of more years. Both have taken on a more golden colour than when they were first bottled – this is particularly true of the 2007 Chinon. They have both gained complexity in bottle with some slight aged oxidative notes, which are not at all problematic as they just add complexity. Both remain very clean, fresh and delight to drink. 

The Saumur from Château de Villeneuve is the 'generic' cuvée and not the prestige Les Cormiers. Château de Saint Louand is a Baudry-Dutour prestige cuvée coming from vines planted on limestone on the heights above and to the west of the centre of Chinon. Vinified and aged in oak I detected some wood notes that added to the complexity rather than detracting. This Chinon Blanc is closed with a superior Lux Plus srewcap.

2007 was a latish vintage after a poor summer but with a good autumn. The 2007s have a real Loire backbone of racy acidity. This vintage is another example that, given the diversity of Loire wines, it is rare to find a vintage that is good/ideal for all styles. 2007 dry whites and sweets are generally superior to the reds. 

I have little doubt that these two wines will still be showing well in another ten years.           

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Breton bees in red bonnets (Les Bonnets Rouges) invade InterLoire .....

Christmas appears to have come 
early at InterLoire's Tours office....
(Photo credit: Les Bonnets Rouge)


Yesterday around 5pm eight members of Les Bonnets Rouges interrupted business at the main offices of InterLoire in Tours. Claiming that Muscadet is a 'Vin Breton' (wine from Brittany) and not the Loire, they demanded that InterLoire should cease to allegedly force producers, under a new rule that came into force on 1st August 2017, to put 'Val de Loire' on their bottles of Muscadet, Gros-Plant, Côteaux d’Ancenis etc. 

Jean-Martin Dutour 
Président of InterLoire 

The invaders demanded that InterLoire immediately change the new rules. They also demanded to meet with Jean-Martin Dutour, the current President of InterLoire.

Dutour reported that "Je leur ai dit qu'ils se trompaient de cible" (They had got the wrong target) and he told them to go and see the Fédération des Vins de Nantes.

Press release (13th October 2017) from Les Bonnets Rouges – Les Frélons:  
'Le pays Nantais fait partie de la Bretagne depuis plus de dix siècles et aucun découpage administratif ne peut faire disparaître cette vérité. Nier l’appartenance de la Loire-Atlantique à la Bretagne est une pourriture grise, une combinaison d’arrogance bureaucratique et d’inculture.
Muscadet, Gros-Plant, Côteaux d’Ancenis… Ce sont nos vins bretons.  InterLoire, l’interprofession des vins du Val de Loire les a annexés. Elle cultive la confusion et le mensonge dans l’esprit des Français et des consommateurs étrangers, au détriment de nos vins traditionnels.

Un fleuve ne crée ni un pays, ni un terroir, ni une identité.

Depuis le 1er Août 2017, les nouveaux statuts d'InterLoire oblige les appellations des vins nantais à indiquer leur appartenance au Val de Loire. Les récents accords interprofessionnels indiquent qu'il est obligatoire de mentionner  "Val de Loire" sur les bouteilles. Tout ceci est absurde et inacceptable.

Les vins bretons n’ont rien à faire avec les vins du Val de Loire.
Le pays nantais n’a rien à faire avec la région des Pays de Loire.
A partir d’aujourd’hui, vendredi 13 octobre 2017, nous occupons les locaux d’InterLoire (qui se situent à Tours. NDLR) pour dénoncer ce double scandale.
Ce que nous voulons dans l'immédiat : la modification des statuts d'InterLoire.'

In response to the invasion of InterLoire's office in Tours the Fédération des Vins de Nantes issued a statement disassociating themselves from the actions of Les Bonnets Rouges in Tours. The statement points out that the use of Val de Loire is optional and that the Vins de Nantes are both part of the Loire basin and naturally attached to Brittany.   

Press release (13th October 2017) from the Fédération des Vins de Nantes 


Communiqué


Suite au communiqué adressé par le groupe des « Bonnets Rouges » concernant le Muscadet et InterLoire et l’action d’occupation des locaux d’InterLoire à Tours engagé par ce même groupe ce jour, la Fédération des Vins de Nantes par la voix de son Président Christian GAUTHIER déclare : 

« Nous ne connaissons pas lidentité des personnes qui mènent cette action ni leur relation avec la viticulture. Sur la forme, nous condamnons toute action dintimidation de ce type pour défendre des idées et porter des revendications. Nous nous désolidarisons des prises de position de ce groupe qui nest en aucun ni légitimé ni mandaté par notre structure professionnelle. 

Sur le fond, la Fédération ne sengagera sur aucune position politique concernant les enjeux territoriaux car ce nest pas la nature de sa mission. Les Vins de Nantes appartiennent au bassin du Val de Loire tout en revendiquant leur attachement naturel à la Bretagne, à son identité et à sa culture. Par ailleurs, il est fait allusion dans leur communiqué dune obligation dindiquer sur la bouteille la mention « Val de Loire » pour les AOC de Nantes. Nos obligations réglementaires concernant létiquetage sont encadrées dans nos cahiers des charges dappellation et la mention « Val de Loire » est facultative. » 

•••

Comment

The organisation Les Bonnets Rouges has a serious purpose – see history here and here. However, it is difficult to take their action in Tours yesterday seriously as producers in the Pays Nantais are not forced to put Val de Loire on their wine bottles. The use of the term is optional as the Vins de Nantes Federation points out.