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

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The monumental Oxford Companion to Wine – editor: Jancis Robinson MW

Jancis Robinson MW (editor) and Julia Harding MW (assistant editor): Oxford Companion to Wine – 4th edition, OUP, £40, 860 pages, hbk (publication date: 17th September 2015).
Here is the 4th edition of this remarkable work of wine scholarship.  Jancis explains in her preface that this revision has been the most ‘thorough’ with ‘every single entry has been subjected to intense scrutiny’. This new edition has 300 new entries out of a total of 4.104 – the third edition had 3930 entries.

She notes that: ‘Throughout the wine world, the emphasis continues to shift from ‘making’ to ‘growing’ wine, just as we are seeing a step change in the style of wine to which thoughtful producers aspire. In terms of wine structure and alcohol levels, big is no longer as beautiful as it was at the end of the last century. And the range of grape varieties harnessed for serious commercial wine production is wider than it has been for decades. ‘

‘Because the Companion was already very long and heavy (a common complaint which has inspired the publication of a digital version of this fourth edition), our esteemed publishers Oxford University Press were extremely strict with us about the total length of this new edition, which is less than 4% longer than the third edition in terms of the total number of words.’

It is interesting and obviously sensible that there is a digital version of this monumental reference book, whose printed version weighs in at 2.88 kilos. The Companion to Wine was first published in 1994 when printed books were king, kindle meant to start a fire and ‘ebooks’ would have been a ham actor attempting a Yorkshire accent.

I fancy that if the digital version is well publicized it may well out-sell the printed book on the grounds of practicality. The weight of the printed book means that it will stay in one place whereas the digital OCW can be at hand all the time. Add to this the ease of linking and connecting entries with each other and the advantages of the eOCW are clear.

Yet it is good to see that printed books continue to survive. There is something about owning and touching a book in comparison to an ebook even if it may be more practical. More cynically you can also show that you own a copy by displaying the tome on a coffee table or desk.

The list of contributors runs to eight pages with an additional 50 for this new edition. The following from the Circle of Wine Writers have contributed to The Companion to Wine: Tony Aspler, Nicolas Belfrage MW, Beverley Blanning MW, Michael Broadbent MW, Stephen Brook, Bob Campbell MW, Steve Charters MW, Nicholas Faith, Christopher Fielden, Michael Fridjhon, Rosemary George MW, Caroline Gilby MW, Lisa Shara Hall, James Halliday, Hugh Johnson, Michael Karam, Wink Lorch, Richard Mayson, late Edmund Penning-Rowsell, Michael Schuster, Stephen Skelton MW, Joelle Thomson, late Pamela Vandyke Price and José Vouillamoz.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Le 5 et 6 aoüt Les Grandes Tablées du Saumur Champigny – la version française

 Les Grands Tablées@Saumur (above and below)

'Un "gisant" de Richard III Plantagenêt pour Fontevraud annoncé aux Grandes Tablées du Saumur Champigny

Les vignerons du Saumur Champigny ont invité les 5 et 6 août prochains, les sujets de sa majesté Elisabeth II à leurs Grandes Tablées annuelles, un repas géant qui a lieu chaque année depuis 15 ans entre Loire et patrimoine, en cœur de ville de Saumur. Pour être à la hauteur de l'événement les vignerons on décidé d'offrir un gisant à Fontevraud pour le dernier des Plantagenêts dont le squelette a été retrouvé par hasard dans un parking en 2012, cinq siècles après sa mort. Après quelques années de tergiversation, Richard III a été inhumé à Leicester. Il est le dernier de la dynastie qui fut Comte d'Anjou et roi d’Angleterre. Avec l'Abbaye de Fontevraud, les vignerons ont décidé de confier à un artiste la réalisation d'un gisant pour que le souverain puisse rejoindre ses aïeux dans leur nécropole de l'Abbaye Royage de Fontevraud. Ils remercient en quelque sorte, les plantagenêts pour leur influence sur le vignoble. Un remerciement aux plantagenêts pour leur influence sur le développement du vignoble d'Anjou.

Le ministre français et la reine d'Angleterre
Le Ministre de l'agriculture et porte-parole du gouvernement, Stéphane Le Foll, a annoncé sa venue pour cette édition 2015. Une autre personnalité a été conviée pour participer au choix de l'artiste qui exécutera le gisant de Richard III... la reine Elisabeth II. Pour inviter tous ceux qui le souhaitent à soutenir l'opération, une plate-forme de crowdfunding sera présentée à l'occasion, permettant d'acquérir des bouteilles de la future cuvée Richard III de Fontevraud ou d'accéder à des séjours dédiés à Fontevraud l'Hôtel ****, award....

Depuis 15 ans, 6 000 repas en cœur de ville
6 000 repas, 3 000 convives chacune des deux soirées et 2 000 flâneurs ! La recette est efficace. Chaque été, Saumur se transforme en grand restaurant à ciel ouvert où la bonne humeur et la fête sont de rigueur. Une immense tablée est dressée au coeur de la ville, autour des produits du terroir et du Saumur Champigny, en compagnie des vignerons de l’appellation. Cette année, les 2km de tables seront installés devant l’hôtel de ville les mercredi 5 et jeudi 6 août !

Oui la gastronomie anglaise existe...
Chaque année, les vignerons de l'AOC Saumur-Champigny convie un hôte étranger. Après les Belges pour l'édition 2014, place aux voisins so British cette année. Et aux derniers qui pourraient en douter, les organisateurs vont avec les produits du terroir du Saumurois, prouver que la gastronomie anglaise existe : Mushroom pie, pork pie, légumes de la vallée, fromage de chèvre, red berry crumble... Les recettes traditionnelles anglaises vont être revisitées.

Musique pop
Les idoles de la pop anglaise ne seront pas présentes, mais les 5 formations qui se succéderont place de la République leur rendront un hommage appuyé. Programme à venir.'

  I can't help but feel that chosing to put a statute, albeit reclining, of Richard III at Fontrevaud is a glorious example of refined French humour....

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

2015 Les Grands Tablées de Saumur-Champigny: 5th and 6th August

2005 Grands Tablées  

I'm looking forward to going to Les Grands Tablées this year. I went once before as a guest of the Saumur-Champigny producers and it was a brilliant visit. Again 10 years on I have been kindly invited. The event has grown considerably over the past decade and now stretches over two days.
2005 turned out to be a good vintage and 2015 is looking promising, although drought is a problem and there is still a long way to go. 

Details of the event:   
5th and 6th August: 2km of tables and 6,000 meals – major food & wine feast in Saumur-Champigny

Les Grandes Tablées de Saumur-Champigny is a gastronomic and wine celebration in the heart of the Loire Valley where a meal for some 6,000 people is served to visitors over a two-day marathon festival in the centre of Saumur.  It is the place to be in the Loire in August if you love food, wine and merriment!

For each of the past fifteen years the winegrowers from Saumur-Champigny have played host to special guests from one specific export market. 2015 marks the turn of the British, and the event will include touches of Britishness, including British traditional dishes and popular music.

To accompany the meal, 4,000 bottles of Saumur-Champigny will be served from 20 stands around the Place de la République. The wine chosen for this occasion is called the ‘Cuvée des 100 Vignerons,’ (wine from one hundred growers) a bespoke wine for which the hundred or so local winemakers each contribute 15 kilos of grapes, to produce a special wine which reflects the vintage.  Four of these cuvées – recent ones as well as older – will be served to guests.  

The stats:

·         6,000 meals will be served throughout the two days of the festival

·         4,000 bottles of Saumur-Champigny will be opened

·         Over 10,000 people are expected to visit Saumur-Champigny during the festival

·         Local winemakers, in a nod to the Brits, will present a statue of Richard III to nearby Fontevraud Abbey (King Richard’s ancestors are buried in the Abbey)

·         If all the tables from the meal were put end to end they would reach 2km in length

·         French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll will attend the event this year

·         A crowdfunding platform will be set up at the event, for people to acquire bottles of a future Richard III of Fontevraud cuvée or to access bespoke stays at the 4 star Fontevraud Hotel

Notes to editors:

Details: Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th August 2015 from 7pm, Place de la République in Saumur.

Prices: Meal and an engraved tasting glass - €12.00. Tasting glass only - €5.00 (available on site)

Book : Saumur Tourist Office, quai Carnot, 49400 Saumur – Tel: 02 41 40 20 60

Monday, 27 July 2015

#TDF2015: Chris Froome wins Tour for 2nd time – André Griepel wins in Paris

André Griepel wins for first time in Paris 

Chris Froome wins 2nd Tour de France 

Many congratulations to Chris Froome and to the Sky team on winning his second Tour de France. Also congratulations to André Griepel on winning on the Champs-Elysées yesterday. The first time he has won there and his fourth stage win in this 2015 edition of the Tour. 

I was out riding my bike along the Thames today to Dartford, so my look back at the Tour will appear tomorrow.