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

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Amboise: Foire aux Vins 2014 through to Monday 21st April

The annual Foire aux Vins de Pâques à Amboise is now on until Monday. As usual it is being held in the tunnel under the Château d'Amboise. Costs 3 euros to buy a tasting glass.  

The tunnel under the château

Friday, 18 April 2014

Bonhomme and Puzelats: 2014 Portes Ouvertes – 3rd and 4th May

The 2014 edition of the Portes Ouvertes held by Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme, Jean-Marie and Thierry Puzelat in partnership with Hervé Villemade and their potes ouvertes will be on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May from 11am to 6pm at the Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Les Montils.

The Potes Ouvertes are Catherine and Pierre Breton (Bourgueil and Chinon), Le Briseau (Coteaux du Loir and Jasnières), Les Capriades (Pétillant Naturel de Touraine), Les Foulards Rouges (Côtes du Roussillon), Agnès and Jean Foillard (Morgon and Fleurie), Jean-Sébastien Gioan (Côtes du Roussillon), La Loirette (Bière artisanale de Touraine), Château Meylet (Saint-Emilion), Agnès and René Mosse (Anjou and Savennières), Eric Piffierling (Tavel and Lirac), Frantz Saumon (Montlouis), Hervé Villemade (Cheverny and Cour-Cheverny) and Domaine Yoyo (Banyuls). 

Hervé Villemade@The Real Wine Fair, London 13th April 2014
 Pierre Breton@The Real Wine Fair, London 13th April 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Toxic terroir? - poisoned patrimoine?

A new study casts doubt on the widespread belief that the use of Roundup is not harmful to human health. The study looked at 'adjuvants' – often called inerts that help the active component in the pesticide or herbicide to work more effectively. 

Brief quotes from the study: ‘Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone.’

‘Adjuvants in pesticides are generally declared as inerts, and for this reason they are not tested in long-term regulatory experiments. It is thus very surprising that they amplify up to 1000 times the toxicity of their APs in 100% of the cases where they are indicated to be present by the manufacturer (Table 1). In fact, the differential toxicity between formulations of pesticides and their APs now appears to be a general feature of pesticides toxicology. As we have seen, the role of adjuvants is to increase AP solubility and to protect it from degradation, increasing its half-life, helping cell penetration, and thus enhancing its pesticidal activity [32] and consequently side effects. They can even add their own toxicity [1]. The definition of adjuvants as “inerts” is thus nonsense; even if the US Environmental Protection Agency has recently changed the appellation for “other ingredients,” pesticide adjuvants should be considered as toxic “active” compounds.’

‘It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides. This idea is spread by manufacturers, mostly in the reviews they promote [3940], which are often cited in toxicological evaluations of glyphosate-based herbicides. However, Roundup was found in this experiment to be 125 times more toxic than glyphosate. Moreover, despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions [41].’

A sad Touraine vineyard blitzed 
with herbicide: late March 2014
Not only sad but a danger to human health?

Not only does the widespread use of herbicides destory biodiversity but if recent studies are correct they pose a threat to health not only to the people working in the vineyards but also consumers of wines from vineyards treated with herbicides. 

It is often thought that just using herbicides between the vines and grassing over or cultivating the middle of the rows is more acceptable as this is only a limited use of weedkiller. However, if herbicides with their inerts are indeed toxic this may be a grave error as the herbicides may well leach down to the vine roots with the possibility the toxicity will later appear in the grapes and so into the resulting wine. 

Wine labels in certain countries now carry warnings that the contents may contain sulphites as well as health warnings for pregnant women, should they not now carry warnings that potentially toxic chemicals have been used in the vineyards used to produce this wine?     

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

After a wasted year Frédéric Brochet (Ampelidae) takes over Haut-Poitou Co-op

Frédéric Brochet@Ampelidae 
September 2013 during the vintage 

 Current premises of the Cave du Haut-Poitou in Neuville

The abandoned old coop winery premises 

 just down the road from current premises

Late last September we dropped in to see Frédéric Brochet at Ampelidae during the vintage. He told me about the Coop's financial problems and the rescue plan that he and his backers had to put together. Although it was approved initially by the members of the cooperative, it fell foul of local politics and jealousies and the the agreement was rescinded. Ampelidae made wine for some of the coop members in 2014 and the Haut-Poitou coop went into administration – officially confirmed on 20th November 2013. 

At the time I covered the story on Les 5 du Vin here.

It proved impossible to find a buyer until on 28th March 2014 the Tribunal de Grande Instance at Poitiers accepted an offer from Brochet and Ampelidae to take over the Coop. The offer is worth 2.804 million euros with 900.000€ immediately. The Ampelidae offer was preferred to one from Vins et Fruits  makers of fruity wine cocktails in Châtillon-sur-Thouet. Had the bid from Vins et Fruits been successful I assume that the grapes from the remanining members of the coop would have been used to make base wine for the expanding market for fruity wine cocktails.
News stories about Ampelidae's successful bid:

Haut-Poitou La Coop reprise par Ampelidae
Story by Patrick Touchais 1.4.14:
'Frédéric Brochet, vigneron et négociant dans la Vienne, a repris la cave du Haut-Poitou, criblée de dette. Il se dit prêt à travailler avec tous les anciens coopérateurs qui voudront lui livrer leur récolte.

Tout ça pour ça ! Le tribunal de grande instance de Poitiers (Vienne) vient de confier la cave du Haut-Poitou à Ampelidae. En septembre, Frédéric Brochet, le gérant de cette entreprise basée à Marigny-Brizay, avait fait une offre de reprise de la coopérative. Malgré un niveau d’endettement élevé, qui aurait été apuré par cette opération, les adhérents avaient repoussé son offre. Entre-temps, la coop a été placée en redressement judiciaire.

Read more at'

Also here from Charente Libre.

It is unfortunate that best part of a year has been wasted for those producers who decided not to go in with Ampelidae last autumn. In the 1980s and early 1990s the Cave du Haut-Poitou was a success story – hopefully under Ampelidae there will be a return to more positive times.