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

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. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

#TDF2015: winning Pinot on L'Alpe d'Huez, Froome wins Tour + Cav or Griepel today?

 Stage 20: the top 23 headed by Thibaut Pinot

Stage 20: Chris Froome wins 2015 Tour – the top 23 overall
Nairo Quintana 2nd, Alejandro Valverde 3rd

Yesterday was an exciting stage with Chris Froome really pushed by Nairo Quintana. Apparently Froome has been suffering from a chesty cold since the rest day in Gap, so the climb up to L'Alpe d'Huez trying to limit his time loss to Quintana was really hard. With a great attack Quintana managed to reduce his deficit to Froome to 1.12. He couldn't, however, prevent Chris Froome from winning the Tour for a second time as today's stage will be a procession into Paris with only the sprinters involved in a final gallop up the Champs d'Elysées. 

Thibaut Pinot rescued his Tour with a fine stage win on top of L'Alpe d'Huez to make up for his disappointing showing earlier on in the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali was very unlucky to get a puncture at the base of the climb up the Alpe, which meant that his chance to get on the podium in Paris disappeared.  

The other jersey competitions have also now been decided: 

Mountains – Polka Dot: Chris Froome 

There is one point available on Stage 21 into Paris but this will change nothing as Chris Froome leads Nairo Quintana by 11 points.   

Points – Green: Peter Sagan 

Peter Sagan has again dominated the Points Competition, especially in the latter stages of the race. He leads André Griepel by over 100 points and cannot be caught even if he scores no points today. 

Young Rider: Nairo Quintana 

Nairo Quintana has a comfortable lead of 14.48 over Romain Bardet, the leading French rider. Although overall the French riders have not finished as high up the General Classification as they did last year, there is hope for the future with three French riders in the top four of this competition albeit that Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot are over 37 minutes down on Quintana.  
Stage 21: Sèvres-Gpso to Paris Champs-Élysées 109.5 kms

Today's stage will be a procession until the peloton reaches the Champs-Élysée when the sprinters will come out to play. The question will be how much did the mountains take out of them?

Although both André Griepel and Mark Cavendish both have weakened lead out teams, I still expect it will be between these two for the victory. Although Cav has lost Mark Renshaw, his lead out man, Mark is adept at going freestyle and knows the finish well having won here four times. Furthermore he has won here before without Renshaw. Peter Sagan will be up there but it would be a major surprise if he manages to win in Paris.  

Saturday, 25 July 2015

#TDF2015: Vincenzo Nibali saves his Tour – Quintana's last chance today

The Tour in the Alps finally sprang into full life yesterday with Sky and Chris Froome finally put under pressure, while Vincenzo Nibali saved his Tour with a fine solo win. With a late attack Nairo Quintana finally managed to take some time out of Chris Froome and is now 2.38 behind. This sets up an potentially exciting final mountain stage but unless Chris Froome has a bad day it will require an epic ride for Quintana to take 2.39 minutes out of Froome today in the stage that finishes atop l'Alpe d'Huez. Although Nibali took 1.14 back from Froome yesterday he is still 6.44 behind, while Chris gained time (1.12) on both Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde. 

Sky will be concerned that their riders appear to be running out of gas at this vital moment. Geraint Thomas had a bad day and came in over 20 minutes down on Nibali and has fallen from 4th place to 15th. Almost the entire Sky Team were dropped on the first climb yesterday and although a number got back on the descent, Froome only had Wouter Poels for support in the final part of the stage. 

The French will have been pleased yesterday with Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot and Pierre Rolland all performing well and finishing with the leaders. Rolland made a long bid for a stage victory but couldn't hold onto Nibali on the final climb. Romaine Bardet has strengthened his place as the leading French rider: in 9th place at 14.08, while Rolland is in 10th at 17.27. 


Stage 20: Modane Valfréjus to l'Alpe d'Huez 110.5 kms

Col de la Croix de Fer

L'Alpe d'Huez

The final showdown is a short 110 kilometre stage with two HC climbs finishing with the famous l'Alpe d'Huez with its hundred and thousands of spectators lining the hairpin climb to the finishing line. Only Quintana can snatch the Yellow Jersey from Chris Froome. Yesterday he managed to take 32 seconds out of Froome. Will this prove to be too little – too late? Or can Quintana produce an amazing ride today and still win the Tour. It's a very tough ask if Froome doesn't have a bad day. Furthermore Froome as the Yellow Jersey would love to win on L'Alpe d'Huez.

Will Nibali manage to knock Valverde off the podium and take third place? A result that looked highly unlikely until yesterday! Will Bardet stay as the leading Frenchman? We will soon know!