Down and Out in Paris and London


Bollards: Down and Out. They looked even worse before Ivreversed


George Orwell, such a great man and so many great titles. But this one is very apt for my just finished lightning trip to London, (Stevenage), Deauville and Paris.

La raison d’être was 30th reunion of my class from school. At forty-eight it seems a good age to do this one – enough history to make people interesting and well before we descend into decrepitude. The bar was too noisy and dark, and the conversations too brief, It was, however, cathartic to feel that people were actually pleased to see me, as indeed I was them. Perhaps another time in a more civilised place – but I doubt they will manage so many again.

At close of play I pushed off to Stevenage where I was picking up wine the next morning. Arriving at one o’clock in the morning I circled the Ibis hotel with its bright red sign illuminating the Hertfordshire sky. It took me twenty minutes to find a way in and find the hotel marooned in a shopping concourse eight hundred metres from the nearest disabled parking space. I decided to try my luck elsewhere, namely the nearby Novotel only to find no room at the inn. So fittingly, like an impoverished eighteen year old of thirty years ago, I spent a night as a vagrant on the Novotel car park. The Volvo is comfortable enough, but it was cold, and I am suffering the consequences now…and the cooked Novotel breakfast did little improve the situation.

I was done at the Wine Society by a quarter past ten and sped off to Folkestone and then a pleasant drive through Normandy to Deauville and Les vins de Pierre Boinet. I blindly tasted (correctly) a 2016 Saumur from Romain Guiberteau (at least I go t the grape and the region) before heading back to Pierre’s flat which has a lovely view out to sea and the bay of Trouville. A plateau de fruits de mer (the whelks are always delicious there) was accompanied by a very odd bottle of Domaine Leroy 2009 Aligoté – strange because it really was quite funky and dominated by sulphur, although it did transform from oiliness to quite dry and mineral, and a clearly well made bottle of wine. I had brought a 2013 Chenin Blanc from Swartland’s Leeuwenkuil which was quite a contrast to the Guiberteau. Quite rich with a nose that could have been taken for a very discreet Gewurtzraminer; it was complex and fine. Well worth checking out, and £22 from the WIne Society.

Saturday was a long drive back to Dijon and as I approached la Porte de Neuilly I decided to stop off at my old haunt (and one of the best jobs I ever had), Tim Johnston’s Juvenile’s in the rue Richelieu just next to the Palais Royal. By chance Tim was there, his much exaggerated retirement is a fiction, and he invited me to lunch. A plat of Poire de Boeuf with a pesto sauce was delicious, and a 100% Carignan from Domaine Dauphilac rolled back the years. The Languedoc produces a lot of dross, but there are wineries you can rely on, year in, year out. Dauphilac is one, Domaine de l’Hortus another.

When it was time to move, Tim kindly pushed me back to the car and I saw that I had inadvertently “down and outed” two plastic bollards. Curiously the Volvo had not whined, so I think they were couchés before I parked. But Tim was very pleased; we took a photo and I’m to send it to Annie Hidalgo – Tim is not a fan.

Back home by seven thirty I had a remarkably full forty-eight hours. My cellar is full of RIesling and New World Pinot Noir…Let the (blind) tastings begin. I’m looking forward to trying to guess the 2014 Separavi from Georgia – and I am estimating my chances at zero.


About matthewhayesbrognon

Wine Merchant
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2 Responses to Down and Out in Paris and London

  1. Richard Milner says:

    Lovely to read about your good self and Juves in the same post. I share your fond memories of there, Willi’s, and Paris in general. I am still in touch with Lizzie Would though telegraphs to others have slipped from my ageing ship’s sides. I drink little wine now – only due to me developing a dependency problem. That said there’s a box of six Calon Segur 2001 awaiting my early 2019 50th. I enjoy your missives and have fond memories of Reims shenanagins.

    • Hello Boss, what a pleasure to hear from you.And what a miracle that my rather tedious blog should make its way to your in box. I feel rather gratified. Now the last I heard you managed to get into publishing, are you still there? I am unfortuantely rather remiss about keeping up contacts, to my cost, and I find myself in Dijon surrounded by nothing but the enemy. As I said to someone at my school reunion the other night, after twenty five years here, you realise there were good reasons that the English fought the French so often!

      On a not entirely unrelated subject, and equally nostalgic, you drifted into my thoughts recently…indeed every time I am listening to TMS from Headingly I wonder what became of you…and there you are some contact! I had a short communication with Lizzie a couple of years ago, and I also wonder whatever happened to Sue.

      2001 Calon Segur will be lovely; I am currently rather limiting myself and not drinking during the week. There is an element of what my sister calls low-level alcoholism, which it is better to try and control (and it’s good when you know you can!). But as she also noted during a Lent inspired drought…god, the six to eight thirty period is long.

      I have actually embarked on the WSET Diploma course, with a hope that one day I might one day achieve the hallowed status of MW, so I have to be in London every so often; if you are there, send me your details.vI am sure we could share a fine lunch…(but the less said about Reims shennanigans the better!)

      Fond regards,


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