Les 5 du Vin

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The essence of wine?

A tablebLunch in the cool of the Boulevard Napoléon winery 

J+T-Quail gatherersChef John and Trevor Gulliver braving both
the heat of the Minervois and the barbecue
to bring guests delicious quail  

Joseph PailléJoseph Paillé checking out the 2014 Grenache Gris, Boulevard Napoléon

Wine is, of course, many things – an agricultural way of life and a product that can live for decades even, in rare instances, for centuries. One of the rare agricultural products that has glamour.  Wine is also a worldwide global commerce as typified by this week’s Vinexpo gathering in Bordeaux.

It is all of these things and more but its essence is surely one of enjoyment. Enjoyment of three Gs:  a good glass or two, good food and good company. Of course you can enjoy wine alone but it isn’t the same.

Over the weekend we were at Boulevard Napoléon’s annual fête des vins in La Livinière, the only cru of the Minervois. This convivial fête sums up the essence of wine.

Boulevard Napoléon is the French arm of the St John Restaurant group headed by Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson. Trevor has had a house in nearby Homps, on the Canal du Midi, for some 15 years. It was in 2010 that he was persuaded to buy some vines high up in the hills and the following year Boulevard Napoléon made its first vintage.

Last year we were kindly invited to their now annual Fête des Vins, which was when we conceived the idea of riding from Pauillac to La Livinière to raise money for Parkinson’s UK as Fergus has had Parkinson’s since 1998. Our fundraising ride has currently hit £5,332.50 including gift aid – an additional 20% that the UK Government puts in for UK taxpayers.

Group@Trevor'sThe Pedallers’ team @the finish with Fergus 

Fergus17.6.17Fergus Henderson

2014 Grenache Gris2014 Grenache Gris, IGP Hérault – very attractive, medium weight,
well balanced white with good crisp acidity.
You are not aware that it is 14.5%

14Bien AutreThe soft and juicy red: 2014 Bien Autre, IGP Hérault
The domaine’s second wine – best chilled especially in a heatwave   


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Parkinson’s Fundraising Ride: Pauillac to La Livinière – 1er Etape: Pauillac to Langon

Parkinson’s team: Carole supported by
Lynda and Derek on either side
Lafite in background

Jim and Carole – the pedallers before the start

Derek and Lynda: support team 

 Well we are now on our way. After a short photo opportunity on the D2 road in front of Château Lafite we set off just before 8.45am. Originally we had planned to leave a little later but with the heat of Saturday and Sunday we decided it would be best to start as early as we reasonably could, so to avoid the hottest part of the day.

However, this morning turned out to be considerably cooler than the previous days as well as being overcast, so we enjoyed a very pleasant ride from Pauillac to Langon, the market town of Sauternes.

From Lafite we headed down the D2 – Route des châteaux – past many of the Médoc’s famous domaines until we reached the turning to Macau, which we opted for as this road is quieter than the lower part of the D2. 

Getting through Bordeaux proved to be pretty straightforward, especially once we reached the new Pont Chaban-Delmas, which includes a cycle lane that connects to a cycle track that runs for miles along the eastern bank until it joins the D10 to the south of the bridge that carries the Bordeaux by-pass to the eastern side of the. London is making some progress with its cycle super-highways but, from our experience today, lags behind Bordeaux.

It was an interesting ride down the D10 with the vineyards of the Côtes de Bordeaux followed by the lesser known sweet wine appellations like Cadillac, Loupiac and Saint Croix de Mont. 

After a brief stop in the centre of the old town of Cadillac we reached today’s finish at the Hotel Claude Darroze just before 2pm.

Words from Parkinson’s UK that underlines why we are riding:
‘People with Parkinson’s need a new treatment, the science is ready and we have the expertise.

Current Parkinson’s drugs aren’t good enough. They don’t stop, slow down or reverse the condition – they just mask it for a time. And they can have distressing side effects.

While there are a range of therapies, the main drug people rely on hasn’t changed for over 50 years. There has been lots of work to understand Parkinson’s, but not enough investment or leadership to join up the best ideas and deliver new treatments.

We’re now at the tipping point. With decades of research we’ve unlocked key discoveries that could transform lives. Parkinson’s UK is ready to drive forward the research community in a radical new approach to develop better treatments, faster as part of their We Won’t Campaign, which is raising vital funds for Parkinson’s research.’

We are delighted that our total now stands at £3,185.00 (£3,818.75 including gift aid). We are very grateful to our 70 generous donors. If you haven’t donated please do consider doing so and help us hit our ambitious target of £6000. 

All donations make a difference! Our fundraising page is here



Manicured Lafite 

Lafite and the Giant Defy

The market building in Cadillac

Derek finds that support can be tough….



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Parkinson’s Pedallers – Pauillac to La Livinière: 12th – 16th June 2017


GrpoutsideFergus Henderson (middle) with Jim, Carole Macintyre and Max Poynter Hall
Fergus has had Parkinson’s since 1998

Group inside

Fishy riders
A fishy perspective 

Lafite – le départ…

… jusqu’a Cru La Livinière, Minervois 

From one famous cru to another: Pauillac to La Livinière
Our challenge is to cycle from Pauillac, close to the Atlantic coast, to La Livinière in the Minervois, not very far from Mediterranean – a distance of roughly 500 km, just over 300 miles!

Pauillac is the home of some of the most famous Bordeaux vineyards – Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild. Our destination is La Livinière where we will, hopefully, catch the Boulevard Napoléon Fête du Vin, celebrating the wine of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, co-founders and co-owners of London’s St John Restaurant. The wine is made from their vineyards high up in the hills of the Minervois.

Fergus Henderson & Trevor Gulliver’s vines high up in the hills of the Minervois

It was at last year’s wonderful Fete du Vin at La Livinière that we came up with the idea of doing a charity ride and Fergus, who has had Parkinson’s since 1998, was the inspiration for selecting Parkinson’s UK as our chosen charity. Fergus is a well-known and highly regarded British chef and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to tail eating, which explains his philosophy and provides some of his innovative recipes that make use of all parts of the animal.

Another inspiration for our ride is a long-time friend of ours, Ivor Morris, who was a very able and keen racing cyclist and founder of the London Fire Brigade Cycling Club. It was Ivor who first inspired us to take up serious cycling and get into time trialling in the late seventies and the eighties. Ivor died in early January 2008 after suffered from Parkinson’s for many years. We have very fond memories of dropping down to Ivor’s to watch the short snippets of news on the Tour de France, long before it became a popular spectator sport.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition for which there is as yet no known cure although there are hopes of a breakthrough in the near future. Parkinson’s UK plays a very important role in supporting and promoting research and driving better care, treatments and quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s.

To date the full-time cyclists for the whole distance are Jim Budd and Carole Macintyre. We have the invaluable support of Lynda Maple who will drive the support car, carry our gear and, if necessary, rescue us en route! We are delighted that at least one brave soul, Max Poynter Hall from St John Restaurant, will be joining us for one stage of the journey. We are looking for others!

Why not give it a go for a great cause? Contact us by emailing budmac@btinternet.com


Virgin Giving site – every donation makes a difference!

Jim’s Loire

Parkinson’s UK

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition. This means that it causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time.

Although there are increasing effective treatments, there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s and we don’t yet know fully why people get the condition. (See Luke’s comments below.)

But there are lots of different treatmentstherapies and support available to help you manage the condition as well as continuing research.

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Shorts – NZ tasting + St John



Yesterday was the annual New Zealand London tasting. I spent a little over an hour there as I find large generic tastings increasingly uncongenial – must be a sign of reaching middle age, I suppose …….

Anyway I did spend enough time at the tasting to discover the wines of Clos Marguerite, a small producer in Marlborough. As the name might indicate this 10-hectare vineyard has close links with a French speaking country – not France but Belgium. It is owned and run by Jean-Charles Van Hove and Marguerite Dubois from Belgium where they married and then set off to New Zealand to seek their fortune – or rather establish their own vineyard.

In 1998 they bought 10 hectares in the Awatere Valley, the most southernly part of Marlborough and most enclosed valley. It wasn’t until 2000 that they started to plant.See here. In the meantime Jean-Charles worked as wine-maker for a number of NZ companies. See here.



There were three Clos Marguerite wines to taste – 2016 and 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2012 Pinot Noir. I was impressed by the nicely restrained 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – the 2015 is a little more opulent but still attractive. Equally I liked the quite bricky coloured 2012 Pinot Noir with its silky texture, delicacy and length. The wines are distributed in the UK by Clark Foyster.


Isabelle Clark and Lance Foyster MW


bu0a0644Sophie Lafourcade Cachard, Domaine les Luquettes, Provence 

Diane Cauvin, Château Colombière, Fronton

On Saturday we were invited to join St John Restaurant‘s annual growers lunch, which was a great opportunity to taste many of the wines on the restaurant’s list, meet the growers and enjoy a long lunch – we could get addicted to this. Above are two of the growers, whose wines we particularly liked and who were present at the lunch – Diane from Fronton and Sophie from Bandol.

CRM and I are planning a charity ride from Pauillac to La Livinière in the Minervois where Trevor Gulliver and Fergus Henderson, the owners of St John, have a vineyard. The ride will be to raise money for a Parkinson’s charity as Fergus has had this disease for some time. We will be riding in June to coincide with Fergus and Trevor’s annual Fête des Vins in La Livinière. More details to follow.

Jim Budd