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

Sunday, 20 August 2017

A walk in the Perthshire hills – Fonab Castle – Killiecrankie – Bealach na Searmoin – Pitlochry – Fonab

 Heading up from Killiecrankie 
with the purple heather

In contrast to yesterday day has been a nice dry day – bright in the morning but clouding over late morning before the cloud lifting mid-afternoon. We started off from Fonab Castle where we are spending the weekend and walking upstream close to the River Tummel to Killiecrankie. Much of the walk was through pine forest with attractive views down onto the river.

When we got to the Killiecrankie Visitors' Centre we decided that we had enough time to head to Pitlochry by way of the hills – taking the more energetic option (The Bealach Walk) with some 1800 feet of climbing included..... This walk takes you up to the Bealach na Searmoin (a pass) and then straight back down into Pitlochry.  

 Leaving the Killiecrankie Valley behind 
 Looking westwards 
 Well up on the way to the 
Bealach na Searmoin
 from Killiecrankie
looking north west 
 Almost at the top of the Bealach na Searmoin with 
the option of further climbing to the peak – Ben-y- Vrackie (declined)
Even at the top of the pass you hear the noise of the traffic on the A9. 
This is on the north side. However, over the top on the south side the traffic noise disappears 
Over the top of the pass – very different vista looking southwards 
– towards Perth much more gentle with the 
Falkland Hills in the very far distance

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Scottish summer day – full of variety!

Today we drove down the A9 from Newtonmore to Pitlochry. Here are a series of photos taken over a short distance, on an iFone around Dalwhinnie showing how quickly the weather in the Highlands can change. 

 Mist on the hills 

 Looking through the windscreen!

 Now past Dalwhinnie – signs of clearing up 

 Dramatic sky and landscape

 Heading to the Drumochter Pass
(above and below)

Friday, 18 August 2017

2017 Loire vintage approaches

The 2017 vintage in the Loire will be relatively early, although not as early as originally thought as the weather recently has been fresher.

The initial predictions (published mid-July) by France's Ministry of Agriculture are that the 2017 Loire will be up on 2016 by 7%. However, 2016 was 25% down on a normal vintage, so the frost affected 2017 vintage will again be considerably down on a 'normal vintage'. 

Unfortunately 2017 will do little to replenish stocks that are now very low in parts of the Loire as there have been short vintages for many from 2012 onwards. Stocks of Muscadet are very low 160,000 hls at the end of July – normally they would be between 410,000 and 430,000 hls. The 2017 vintage in Muscadet is estimated to be between 200,000 and 280,000, while a normal harvest is now around 400,000 hls. Inevitably the 2017 Muscadet will not replenish the depleted stocks. 

Elsewhere stocks of Sancerre are not problematic following a serious of generally plentiful vintages, which have bucked the trend elsewhere in the Central Vineyards and the Loire as a whole. Pouilly-Fumé, by contrast, is short due to frost both last year and this. 

Staying with Sauvignon Blanc, there is just four months of stock of Touraine Sauvignon. Stocks of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil are also very low – 50% of normal. Fortunately, redwise, there are reasonable levels of Chinon, Saumur-Champigny and Saunur. Vouvray has 14 months of stock, which is low due to the tradition of growers holding on to some stock before they sell.   

Picking in the Pays Nantais is likely to start in early September rather than in the last 10 days of August as was originally possible. In the Central Vineyards Benoît Roumet, director of the BIVC,  told me that picking Pinot Gris in Reuilly could start around 13th September with Sauvignon Blanc from 16th September. 

For the moment the grapes appear to be healthy and looking promising. Fingers crossed that this continues. 

More updates on the 2017 Loire vintage will be following.