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, 20 October 2014

Auberge du Cheval Rouge in Chisseaux

2009 Vouvray Pétillant, Catherine Dhoye-Deruet

With the sad closure of the Agnès Sorel in Genillé we need to find another restaurant reasonably close to us where the food is good plus offering good value. Le Bon Laboureur in Chenonceaux is excellent but the prices make it one for a special occasion. Equally at the other end of the price scale La Cantine, 22 rue Alfred Nobel in Bléré offers a very good value, simple workers' lunch but we need somewhere in between. 

Hearing that the Auberge du Cheval Rouge in Chisseaux had changed hands last year, four of us headed there on Friday night to see how it was doing. The new onwers are Jacques and Jenny Guillaumat. Jacques is in charge of the kitchen, while Jenny is front of house.

CRM and I hadn't been there for a numbers of years and the dining room has been brightened up. There is also another room upstairs and an attractive garden for warm days. Menus start at 29€ offering three courses with a choice of two dishes per course. We went for the slightly more expensive 35€ (3 courses) that gave us more choice. There is another menu that starts at 45€ for four courses. 

The wine list is compact with a good choice of local producers including Jean-François Merieau, Bruno Curassier, La Grange Tiphaine, Jacky Blot and François Chidaine. For an apéro we chose fine 2009 Vouvray Pétillant from  Catherine Dhoye-Deruet. It was just as well that I checked the label carefully as the waiter had brought her Méthode Traditionelle (fully sparkling rather than pétillant).

For our first course three of us chose the demi-caille rôtie, purée de céleri glacé à la coriandre maki de jambon de canard et jeunes pousses de mâche à l’huile de noix and one the langoustines poché dans un consommé de crabe vert, minestrone de légumes au tourteau. My quail was extremely good with some Oriental touches. 

We chose a half bottle of Yves and Pierre Martin's 2012 Chavignol, Sancerre, which confirmed Pierre's winemaking talent but not cheap at 24€ for a half.

Again for the main course we split three to one: civet de lotte, risotto aux jeunes légumes sauce crustacée légèrement safranée got three votes, while the final vote went to the filet mignon de roi rose (cochon de Touraine), purée de panais, pomme de terre en robe des champs et ses girolles

After the success of my first course I was bit disappointed with my lotte – not a very generous portion of fish with some of the pieces a little over-cooked. Nor was a really convinced that the risotto gained anything by being smeared across the bottom of the plate. CRM went for the pork and was very happy with its quality and the cooking, although she would have preferred a a few more dabs of sauce finding the dish a little dry. 

We drank Bernard Baudry's very good and slightly herbal 2011 Le Guillot, Chinon. Equally we could have gone for the Saumur-Champigny from Philippe Vatan (Château de Hureau) – the Tuffe cuvée if I remember rightly. 

To finish CRM and I went for notre traditionnel soufflé au grand marnier, glace à la vanille bourbon. Although it looked spectacular, the souffle was OK but not at the level of the first course.

Overall this is restaurant we will go back to but not as good as the sadly departed Agnès Sorel. In addition to the good food and value there Estelle Petit was a big plus. In contrast once Jenny Guillaumat had taken our order  I don't remember seeing her again. The last thing I want in a restaurant is to be fawned over but if the owner drops by during the meal, especially if they are not being rushed off their feet, it does indicate that they hope you are enjoying your meal. However, the meal was well paced but there were only three tables (nine covers) occupied. 

I would have been very happy had all the courses been up to the high standard of the first. However this and the compact wine list makes it worth returning.           

The half quail


 The pork

2011 Le Clos Guillot, Chinon, Bernard Baudry

soufflé au grand marnier

Sunday, 19 October 2014

2014 Loire Vintage: a few more photos from our Tuesday visit to the Layon

 Charlie Pasquiers showing us around the cuverie@Domaine FL's new winery

A small selection of photos taken during our visit to the Layon Valley last Tuesday

 Just harvested Cabernet Franc being loaded into a vat

 Barrel room downstairs@FL

 Pickers@FL – a tri for a light, easy drinking Coteaux du Layon

Grapes (Chenin Blanc) selected for another easy drinking Coteaux du Layon
@Château du Breuil 

Bruno – vineyard manager@Château du Breuil

 Picker@Château du Breuil checking for acid rot
by cutting the bunch open and smelling.
Acid rot has a sharp vinegary aroma

 Cuverie@Château du Breuil

Heading home on the A85 Autoroute 
Steam cloud rising from the Chinon nuclear power station 
could be seen for miles on this very clear day

Saturday, 18 October 2014

La Levée de la Loire à Paris : 3 événements en 1

Les vignerons de La Levée de la Loire vous accueillent lundi 3 novembre de 10 h à 18h aux salons Vianey, à Paris (75012). Une journée de dégustation organisée en association avec les vignerons de Biodyvin (vins biodynamiques) et du Nez dans le vert (vignerons bios du Jura). 

80 domaines du Val de Loire seront représentés à la journée de dégustation de La Levée de la Loire, lundi 3 novembre 2014, à Paris. Pour cette troisième édition parisienne, la Levée de la Loire a choisi de se regrouper avec deux autres associations de vignerons : Biodyvin (vignerons en biodynamie) et le Nez dans le vert (Bio du Jura).

Les éditions 2012 et 2013 de la Levée de la Loire à Paris ont permis de référencer ce salon parmi les dégustations incontournables du mois de novembre auprès des professionnels du vin. Les dégustations de Biodyvin et du Nez dans le vert représentaient toutefois un dilemme pour les visiteurs qui disposaient de trop peu de temps pour se rendre aux trois événements dans la même journée. C’est pour faciliter le programme de des derniers que les trois associations ont choisi de travailler ensemble en proposant leurs dégustations le même jour, au même endroit.

Au total, près de 170 domaines seront ainsi représentés dans les salons Vianey lundi 3 novembre 2014, de 10h à 18h.

Les salons Vianey, 98 quai de la rapée, 75012 Paris – Métro quai de la Rapée

Contacts presse : Sébastien BONDUAU/+33 6 09 10 85 38 - Charlotte CARSIN/+ 33 6 61 46 86 93 -

Les exposants de la Levée de la Loire

Domaine du Coudray
Domaine Fouassier
Domaine Vincent Gaudry
Domaine de la Garrelière
Domaine Clos des Quarterons
Domaine du Mortier
Catherine et Pierre Breton
Domaine de la Chevalerie
Domaine Sebastien David
Domaine La Fontaine aux Fougères
Domaine Bertrand Galbrun
Domaine Stéphane Guion
Domaine Laurent Herlin
Domaine du Petit Bondieu
Chateau de Minière
Domaine Chateau de la Roche en Loire
Domaine Paget
Domaine Grosbois / Chateau de la Cour
Domaine Ludovic Chanson
Domaine Pierre Borel
Domaine d'Orfeuilles
Domaine de la Roche Honneur
Domaine Wilfrid Rousse
Chateau de Coulaine
Domaine de la Noblaie
Domaine Fabrice Gasnier
Domaine les Chesnaies
Chateau de la Bonneliere
Domaine Pierre Sourdais
Domaine de Noiré
Domaine de la Gaudetterie
Domaine de Veilloux
Domaine Courtault-Tardieux
Domaine Baron
Domaine des Roy
Domaine Mikael Bouges
Domaine Sauvète
Domaine du Clos Roussely

Domaine des Huards
Domaine de Montcy

L'Epicourchois - Luc Percher
Domaine Philippe Tessier
Domaine le Clos Saint-Jean
Domaine la Paonnerie
Domaine Michel Bedouet
Domaine Bonnet-Huteau
Domaine de la Bregeonnette
Domaine les vignes Saint Vincent
Domaine Grand Fief de la Cormeraie
Domaine de la Pepière
Domaine Landron Chartier
Domaine du Closel
Domaine Eric Morgat
Domaine Cady
Domaine du Clos de l'Elu
Domaine Delesveaux
Chateau de Suronde
Domaine Bruno Dubois
Chateau Tour Grise
Domaine de la Paleine
Domaine Patrick Baudouin
Domaine de Bablut
Château de Bois-Brinçon
Domaine de Juchepie
Chateau de Villeneuve
Côme Isambert
Domaine la Source du Ruault
Domaine du Pas Saint-Martin
Chateau de Fosse-Seche
Domaine Melaric
Domaine des Noades
Chateau Yvonne
Vins Bertin-Delatte
Domaine Pierre Chauvin
Domaine des Sablonnettes
Domaine Pabiot
Domaine du Bouchot
Domaine les Maisons Rouges
Domaine des Terres Blanches
Domaine des Jumeaux
Prieure la Chaume

Friday, 17 October 2014

Ackerman continues to expand – buying Jean-Paul Couamais (Vouvray)

Bernard Jacob, directeur général of Ackerman

Ackerman, the Loire's largest locally négociant, has continued its policy of expansion in the Loire Valley buying the 36-hectare vineyard of Jean-Paul Couamais in Vernou (Vouvray). Founded in 1971 Couamais is the 4th largest producer in Vouvray in terms of volume – preceded by the Cave Coop of Vouvray (part of Alliance Loire – shareholders in Ackerman), Grands Chais de France and Château Moncontour. Couamais has a turnover of 2€ million. 

At the end of last year Ackerman bought two domaines from Pressoirs de France: Bénastré in Montreuil-Bellay and Le Moulin in Le Puy Notre Dame with a total of 115 hectares. Earlier in 2014 Ackerman bought Les Celliers du Prieuré/Valentin Fleur in Saint-Georges-sur-Loire (Anjou) run by Michel Fleur. The company had a turnover of 14€ million. 

Ackerman bought Donatien-Bahuaud (Pays Nantais) in 2009 followed by Monmousseau (Montrichard, Loir-et-Cher) in 2010. From the accounts to 31.12.2013 Ackerman had a turnover of 50.5€ million with exports accounting for 15.3€ million. This is well ahead of other significant Loire négociants still in local hands – Pierre Chainier SAS (based in Amboise) – 17.5€ million (2013), 19.6€ (2012) and Bougrier 15.9€ million (2011). I have excluded Grands Chais de France and Castel here as their ownership lies outside the Loire.