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Wood disease - maladie de bois

>> Sunday, February 28, 2010

A big problem in many vineyards today is ’maladie de bois’ (wood disease?). It is a fungal disease that attacks the vine and finally kills it (there are several different types, e.g. esca and eutypiose). Previously, it has been effectively treated with a mixture containing arsenic, but since it turned out to be harmful not only to the vine it is now forbidden. Today the wine growers just have to wait until the vine dies and then pull it up (or pull it up earlier of course). But there is a problem – you have to make sure you get as much as possible of the roots out of the ground since otherwise the virus will remain in the sick root. And that is not easy to do. In Auvergne they have been doing tests with a mini-excavator with a contraption that can pull up the vine and almost all of the roots, and it has proven to do a pretty good job. Read more on the tests here: (Photo: Sauvat-Vins)


Chateau des Estanilles changes hands

Château des Estanille, in the Faugères appellation, is one of the leading wineries in Languedoc. It was created by and has been run by Michel Louison. Louison was one of the pioneers in making quality wines in the Languedoc. The buyer is Julien Seydoux, son of Michel Seydoux, a French business man and film producers (Prospero’s Books, Cyrano de Bergerac). He also happens to own one of France’s major football clubs (Lille). (Michel Seydoux is also the grandson of one of the founders of the Schlumberger empire who today is world leading in oil prospecting technology). Seydoux want to continue on the path of Michel Louison, making wines with “elegance, finesse and superb fruit” according to the press release. The vineyard has 35 hectares and is planted with syrah, mourvèdre, grenache, carignan, and cinsault. It will be interesting to follow the development of this winery, one of the leading estates in the Faugères.


Bordeaux crisis – in the USA?

>> Saturday, February 27, 2010

One of the biggest (if not the biggest) importer of exclusive clarets to the US, Diageo Chateau & Estates, has closed down its Bordeaux business in America, as we wrote in the Brief # 77. The very extensive stock of Bordeaux wines that they had is now finding its way on to the market. For the consumer this might mean that there will be ample supply of not-so-expensive luxury wines. A sudden increase in supply (by e.g. someone who’s dumping his stock) usually leads to falling prices.

For others it can be less positive: The importers that are still active on the American markets see their stock falling in value and have difficulties in selling it without making a loss. For the wine chateaux it can also be a headache. It may become more difficult to sell new (or recent) vintages and it can also give a bad image if prices fall so that those consumers who have recently bought their wines, e.g. as primeurs (wine futures), now see the same bottles for sale at lower prices than what they paid for them previously (at supposedly favourable primeur rates).

Some wine chateaux have tried to dampen these negative effects by buying back from the market wines that they sold (perhaps more expensively) a few years ago. AFP (Suzanne Mustacich) cites as an example Chateau Gruaud Larose who has even launched a press release to try and put a positive spin on it: that it has given them the possibility to replenish their own cellar with vintages that they no longer had… Even Chateau Petrus is rumoured to have done it.

Perhaps one can compare it with enterprises who implement corporate share buy-back schemes when management considers that the stock market does not value their share high enough? What do you think? A positive or negative development?


What is ”organic wine”?

It’s not always easy to get to grips with the terminology, so here’s a short introduction. Strictly speaking one should talk about “wine made from organically grown grapes” since it is only what is done in the vineyard that is regulated, not what is done in the winery. But change is coming – the EU is working on defining what organic means also for the vinification. In spite of that we usually talk about “organic wines”. In French they say “vin biologique” or simply “vin bio”. There are a few terms that you should keep apart:

-- Organic wine: The work in the vineyard is certified by an official organisation, e.g. Ecocert. They do not use chemical treatments (except sulphur and copper) and wants to “respect nature”. The rules are common across the EU.

-- Biodynamic wine: They use special composts and herbal teas for treatments in the vineyard. Often they also follow a planting and work calendar based on e.g. the moon phases, albeit this is not strictly part of the biodynamic principles (and it is also used by non-biodynamic winemakers). All biodynamic growers are ‘par force’ organic. They are certified by private organisations, e.g. Demter and Biodyvin.

-- Natural wine: A concept that has gained in popularity recently. The concept is based on that one should do as little intervention as possible, if any. But there is no definition of what it is, so anyone can call the wine “natural”.

-- Culture raisonnée: there’s not really a good term for this in English. Sometimes “sustainable viticulture “ is used. One can describe it as “almost organic”. They try and not use any chemicals in the vineyard (like organic) but if e.g. grey rot threatens to wreak havoc with the total harvest the allow themselves to treat with chemicals. There is no official definition or certification, but many wine growers say they belong here.

It’s also worth noting that all of the above allow the use of sulphur and copper in the vineyard, if in lesser quantities than “conventional” farming. If you want to know more you can come to the organic wine tasting that we do at Vinisud, together with Vinisud, in Montpellier on February 22. The most organic region in France (in total acreage) is, not surprisingly, Languedoc Roussillon, and the least organic region is, not surprisingly either, Champagne (2008, including vineyards in conversion):

-- Languedoc-Roussillon: 8337 ha
-- Provence-Côte d’Azur: 6674 ha
-- Aquitaine (incl Bordeaux): 3763 ha
-- Loire+Centre: 2415 ha
-- Rhône/Savoie/Auvergne: 2175 ha
-- Alsace: 1261 ha
-- Bourgogne: 1231 ha
-- Midi-Pyrénées: 735 ha
-- Poitou-Charentes: 712 ha
-- Corse: 445 ha
-- Franche-Comté: 191 ha
-- Champagne-Ardennes: 191 ha

Approximately 3% of all vineyards are organic, which is more than for agriculture in general. Italy is the country with the most ecologic vineyards with 36,684 ha. France is second with 22,509 ha.


Open doors in Côtes du Bourg on May 8 & 9

On May 8 and 9 all the doors are open in Côte de Bourg, at least those of a hundred or so wine chateaux – the annual ‘portes ouvertes’. There will be plenty of other entertainment too: a wine tourism rally (whatever that means?!), cross-country biking, aperitifs on boats, wine tastings and much more. More info on:


A wine that's gone flat

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

Adrien Cussonneau, a design student, won a well deserved prize for his original wine bottle. His end-of-studies project was to design a bottle on the theme “Loire profiles”. The resulting bottle turned out, well, flat. From one side it’s a classic bottle profile, from the other it is completely flat. Very elegant. The flat bottle gave him first prize in the competition organised by the Institut du Design Packaging. Congratulations! (Photo: the design project)


Winery for sale – in Bulgaria!

Our spook in Bulgaria reports that there is a winery for sale in Bulgaria. the place is equipped with classic winemaking stuff: concrete fermentation vats etc. the property does not have its own vineyard but there are many grape growers in the wine region where it is located. The area is known for its red wines made from merlot and cabernet grapes. I the area there is a lake that is connected to an irrigation system covering the nearby vineyards. To get more info, contact Dimitar Bankovski, e-mail: dbankovski-at-gmail-dot-com, phone: +359 889 443 745 (Photo: the winery)


BKWine Pick: Ma Cave Fleury, Paris 2

Ma Cave Fleury, Paris 2

Almost exactly one year ago Morgane Fleury opened the doors to her ’cave éco-logique’ in Paris called Ma Cave Fleury. (The celebration was on February 13 so we say Happy Birthday a bit late.) Ma Cave Fleury is both a wine shop and a wine bar – small but very charming. “Fleury” is the well known champagne producing family of that name, one of the precursors of organic and biodynamic champagne. You can of course buy their own wines here (very clean, stylish, with no sulphur and very little dosage), but also other wines with the same philosophy, in other words, most of the wines here are biodynamic and all are organic. And most of the producers are also friends of the family. You can for example find Léon Barral from the Languedoc, La Tour Grise from Saumur, Marcel Richaud from the Rhône Valley, Marcel Deiss and Pierre Frick in Alsace, Marcel Lapierre from Beaujolais. You can have a glass of wine with some charcuterie or cheese (it’s not a pure bar – they generally serve something with the wines). If you book in advance you can also get a hot meal. The location, on Rue Saint Denis, with its seedy reputation, may make you hesitate, but Morgane shrugs it of and notes that there have never been any problems. They also organise wine tastings and other events, advertised on Morgane’s blog. Go take a look:

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Record breaking organic wine fair: Millésime Bio

>> Friday, February 19, 2010

The number of visitors grew by 76% compared to 2009 to reach 3000 visitors at the organic wine fair in Montpellier that just took place. The number of exhibitors was also substantially up: plus 39% to reach 489. There were wines from thirteen different countries to taste and visitors that represented 26 different countries. The first edition of the show was held in 1993. Schedule a visit to next year’s Millésime bio: 24-26 January 2011 in Montpellier. More info


Wine of the Month

Åsa’s wine of the month
Riserva Castel Sant´Elena

A wine for the ”goderecci”: Riserva Castel Sant’Elena. In other words, a wine for those of you who seek pleasure (which is what goderecci means in Italian), and as often when you are looking for some real pleasure it’s not exactly cheap. It comes from old vines of merlot and cabernet sauvignon in Umbria, not far from Perugia. Open the wine and decant it at least half an hour before serving to let the aromas develop – red fruit, as black currants and other dark fruit will then reach your nose when you dip it in the glass. In the mouth it is warm with a touch of tannin and a bit of ripe, jammy flavours. It is a Riserva 2007 and it wouldn’t hurt to keep it another few years to let the tannins round off a bit. Around 30 euro.


Organic wines at Millésime Bio

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

We were (Per was) recently at the organic wine show in Montpellier: Millésime Bio. It is a wine fair that is quite different from many others. First, of course, since there are only organic wines there (well…. there were also some almost-organic wines, in “conversion”). But also because there are no traditional show stands. Every exhibitor gets a table and the size of the table is the same for everyone, so it has a certain democratic feel about it. It also avoids you having to wade through masses of utterly uninteresting, but gigantic, stands before you get to the interesting stuff. And interesting stuff there is. Obviously, not all organic wine is quality, or even good wine, but you do find quite a lot of interesting producers at Millesime Bio. I’d say that the ration of interesting to uninteresting is probably higher here than at most other fairs, disregarding if you are specifically interested in “bio” (the French for organic) or not. It is as much an occasion to discover new things as it is to say hello to old acquaintances. Here are some of the noteworthy rencontres this year:

-- Terre des Chardons – a biodynamic (sometimes very biodynamic) southern Rhône producer in the Costières
-- Domaine de la Crois Senaillet – in Burgundy / Maconnais making mineral chardonnays, including one that is made entirely in the curious egg-shaped concrete tanks
-- Domaine Freyburg – in Alsace, affordable whites, doing comparative trials with biodynamism
-- Chateau de Gaure – Limoux and Le Tour de France, some interesting (and curious) cuvees
-- Domaine Boucabeille – Roussillon with powerful wines
-- Alain Chabanon – confirmed talent in Languedoc, very unusual merlot (!) among many other things
-- Clos de l’Anhel – young and ambitioius domaine in Languedoc
-- Jean-Babtiste Senat – a refugee Parisian with elegant yet powerful reds
-- Daniel le Conte de Floris – a refugee journalist turned winemaker turned wine bar host (Pézenas) with wines with impossible names (but worth the while)
-- Mas des Agrunelles – a young couple running three different (MdA, Mas Nicot and Dom. la Marelle) small family properties with great talent
-- Henri Milan – veteran Provence producer near Aix
-- Chateau Haut Garrigue – a young Irish couple settled in Bergerac
-- Domaine Pialentou – a half-Swedish producer in Gaillac who’s made great strides over the last decade
-- Domaine Tour des Vidaux – a German producer in Provence with a really, really big beard
-- Domaine Pithon-Paillé – Loire winemaker revived like the Phenix making serious whites and some reds
-- Manoir de la Tête Rouge – some off-dry entry level wines and some more serious wines too
-- Domaine Virgile Joly – newish Languedoc (Montpeyroux) producer including a cuvée said to be “the Jura of the Languedoc”
-- Domaine Chateau de la Selve – a very young couple in the unlikely place of Ardèche
-- Domaine Paire – making some serious Beaujolais and some lovely-named but defunct Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire
-- Chateau Pech-Latt – a very reliable source for a good Languedoc bottle
-- Domaine Grand Guilhem – at the very far end of the Languedoc with lovely wines and lovely chambres d’hôtes
-- Domaine Zelige-Caravent – a start-up Pic Saint Loup producer making e.g. Zazou à Zanzibar. Do keep it up!
-- Cascina Corte – an Italian producer of Piedmont wines with unusually good volume
-- Domaine de la Croix Vanel – making excellent Languedoc terroir wines
-- Domaine Turner-Pageot – a start-up Australian-French family venture with great ambitions
-- Domaine Coston – will be making wines from the land that Robert Mondavi was not allowed to buy some years back (not their fault!)
-- Domaine Costeplan – making some lightish and fruity white and some more substantial reds


New (or renovated) photo blog for BKWine Photography

BKWine Photography, the name we’ve chosen for our wine, travel and food photo archive, has undergone a renovation. We’ve completely re-done the design for the photo blog, the Wine Picture Blog, Easier to read, less cluttered. For those who are curious how you do a blog renovation we’ve written a post on how we did it. We also have a separate site dedicated to the photos. It’s been there for a little while now but it is still in “beta”. Recently we also gave it it’s very own web address (url): BKWine Photography on Do pop in and have a look! What do you think?


BKWine Pick: Domaine Courtault, Chablis

Domaine Courtault, Chablis

Jean-Claude Courtault came from the Loire Valley to Chablis in 1974 to work as vineyard manager at a winery in Lignorelles. In 1984 he started to buy his own land and in 1987 he launched his first vintage. Now Jean-Claude has 20 hectares and he has almost handed over to his daughter Stéphanie and her husband Vincent Michelet. Half of their production is ‘petit chablis’. “We make a good quality petit Chablis because we really make an effort. We’re one of the few who really care about making a high quality petit Chablis”, says Stéphanie as we taste her 2008. It is very fresh, with citrus aromas, refreshing acidity and hints of apple. A domaine well worth keeping an eye on.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


”How I saved the world from Parkerization”

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The full title of the book is “The battle of the wine and of love – How I saved the world from Parkerization” ("La bataille du vin et de l’amour – Comment j’ai sauvé le monde de la parkerisation"). It is written by the (obviously) opinionated wine writer Alice Feiring who writes for The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, just to mention a few of her clients. In the book she writes about her passion for wine, in particular for wine with a soul. and her dislike for standardised wine, designed by oenologist and consulting winemakers, and not least about how wrong it is to reduce the appreciation of wine to a single number of course. Well, you get the picture. The book will be launched and signed, by Alice, at an event in Paris on February 18 at 18.00 in a place called Lieu Commun, 5 rue des Filles du Calvaire,


More wine tastings and events at (or off) Vinisud

If you’re going to Vinisud you can come to the organic wine tasting with BKWine that we talk about elsewhere. But there is more. Here are some other things you might enjoy:

- Les Vinifilles on the Sunday evening, to warm up the day before it all starts? 18 women winemakers join for a private party. Who can resist? On invitation only. Perhaps you can get one if you are nice to Louise Hurren: louisehurren-at-wanadoo-dot-fr

- Clos Centeilles has at the Salon two interesting tastings, Monday morning and Tuesday morning, of e.g. their very unusual 100% cinsault wine as well as some other rare grape varieties, more info:

- A vertical tasting of all ten vintages since the creation of Mas de l'Ecriture at the Chez Boris restaurant in Montpellier centre on Monday evening and Tuesday evening. More info: louisehurren-at-wanadoo-dot-fr

- W.O.W n°3 - Vinisud after Fair Party, with 15 wine producers (”Worldwinde original Winemakers”), e.g. Champagne Tarlant, in the evening of the 23rd, more info:

- Le Vin de Mes Amis, if you want to take a rest from Vinisud ”même” you can go to Castelnau le Lex where some 50 ’pirates’ have an “off” show. More info:


Taste organic wines with BKWine at Vinisud, France’s second largest wine show after Vinexpo, organises a tasting of organic wines. The tasting is primarily intended for Scandinavian visitors but as a reader of the BKWine Brief you are of course welcome too. The tasting will start with a presentation by Britt (BKWine) and then there will be some 30 (or more) organic, biodynamic and “natural” wines to taste from various regions in the south of France. The presentation will be in Swedish but even if you don’s speak Swedish you are welcome to come and taste the wines. Details: Monday February 22 at 17.00 in the Centre de Conférences at Vinisud. If you can’t come to the tasting but will be at Vinisud it would be nice to say hello anyway. Give us a call on +33 6 83 51 12 53. PS: Don’t forget to register for a badge at Vinisud in advance on their site: Then you’ll save on the entrance fee.


BKWine Pick: Weingut Erich Machherndl, Wachau, Austria

Weingut Erich Machherndl, Wachau, Austria
Erich Machherndl in Weissenkirchen in der Wachau is a master of the Austrian grape variety grüner veltliner. A good example is his Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2008, with a high acidity, very clean and crisp style. “That’s exactly how I want it” says Erich. He started working in the vineyard with his father in 1997. Now it is mostly Erich who runs the business, and thus gets the glory. He has 8 hectares and makes a wide range of different wines, not only the GV. He also makes excellent pinot blanc and chardonnay. The pinot blancs are of high quality, full of character, not what you would expect from this otherwise rather anonymous grape. The Pinot Blanc 2000 is outstanding with an intense flavour, with touches of oily honey (if that sounds strange, it’s not!) notes and a god minerality. His chardonnay is made in two variants: with and without oak. My favourite is his Chardonnay Mal Anders, full-bodied with a high acidity, not unlike a chablis.

Click here for address and more recommendations.


Welcome to the BKWine Brief nr 79, February 2010

You, us and The Brief

We do put in quite a lot of effort and time into making the Brief each month. Partially because it is interesting and fun to do it. But also since, as we are sure you have noticed, it is a marketing channel for our wine tours. But we really want the Brief to bring you both information and opinion. A reader recently said “What I like about your newsletter is just that - the attractive photos, the humorous touches and bits of lighter news, the personal opinion”. That’s the kind of thing that makes you happy. You’ve achieved at least a bit of what you want. Both information and giving you a feeling of what we think about what’s going on.

We hope that you get a bit of useful information from the Brief. Perhaps you read just a short snippet, perhaps you devour it from beginning to end (if you do, please let us know, we’ll give you a golden star in our report book!). We try and share what’s going on, what we see and hear about wine.

But we need your help! We would like to (need to) reach more wine enthusiasts – people who want to read about wine, gastronomy and travel (and perhaps one day come on a wine tour). Recommend it to your friends! To your wine club associates! To everyone at work! To family and cousins! Help us find more wine loving readers! After all, it’s good value for money, isn’t it? Here's where you sign up as new subscriber!

And if you have any suggestions how we’d make it even better do let us know!


Châteauneuf has been chosen as “wine village of the year” by the (very big) Swedish wine tasting club Munskänkarna (they have 20,000 members). That inspired us to make a selection of wine photos that could be used to illustrate wine tastings with Chateauneuf wine. This is, just like the BKWine Brief itself, an example of a ‘trade’ between us and our readers. The person talking about Chateauneuf gets a very good selection of illustrations and in return we get an opportunity to be “seen” by some more wine lovers. There’s a small tag line at the bottom of each image that mentions what we do. (The offer is only for non-profit, non-professional tasting tutors at the moment.) A ‘trade’ just like the BKWine Brief. Here’s the selection of the Chateauneuf photos: At the moment, this is only an offer open to the Munskänkarna society in Sweden, but perhaps it would be interesting for other too? Perhaps on other subjects than Châteauneuf too? What do you think?


We (i.e. Per, in this case) were recently at the big trade show Millésime Bio with organic wines. A very interesting wine fair, even if you have no particular penchant for organic wines. Plenty of interesting producers. You can read more on some of the winemakers we met further down in the Brief.

And the organic theme continues. It seems to be a strong trend at the moment (as we predicted in the last Brief). The next big event is France’s second biggest wine fair, Vinisud, where we will be doing a wine tasting on organic wines. It’s primarily for Scandinavian visitors but as a reader of the Brief you are of course welcome too. Read more about it below. In any case we will be back with some reporting from the wine show.


A bit later this spring (if the spring will ever arrive!) there will be the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. It is one of the world’s biggest wine competitions with wines from all over the world. It’s a gigantic organisation, not least since it is a “nomadic” competition since a few years back. In spite of its name the competition will be held in Palermo on Sicily this year. Some 250 judges will participate from many different countries, to judge the thousands and thousands of wines. Britt is what seems like a permanent member of the jury (without wanting to sound as if she’s been there since the beginning of time). This year, Per will also be in the jury, which means that two thirds of the Swedish contribution to the jury will be from BKWine (last time we looked at least). We will be reporting from this too.

But now, over to the Brief.

Britt & Per

PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them ! More on wine:

Read all of the new BKWine Brief here!


Wine events : exhibitions, competitions,…

>> Wednesday, February 03, 2010

We have updated our events calendar with several new events : competitions, shows and other. Thank you to FIJEV (Federation International des Journalistes en Vin) who had put the list together:

- 25-27/01 Montpellier (F) : Millésime Bio

- 28-30/01 Mumbai (IND) : India International Wine Fair,

- 30-31/01 Chassagne (F) : Saint Vincent Tournante,

- 4-7/02 Berlin (D) : Berliner Weintrophy,

- 1-3/02 Angers (F) : Salon des vins de Loire,

- 22-24/02 Montpellier (F) : Vinisud,

- 24-24/02 Sonoma (USA) : Grand Harvest Awards,

- 26-02-2/03 Paris (F) : Vinalies Paris,

- 3-5/03 Thessalonique (GR) : Concours Int . du Vin de Thessalonique,

- 5-7/03 Aiseau-Presles (B) : Salon Saint Vincent,

- 10-13/03 Saint Lager (F) : Chardonnay du Monde,

- 12-16/03 Madrid (E) : Bacchus

- 21-23/03 Düsseldorf (D) : Prowein,

- 22-26/03 Barcelona (E) : Alimentaria Barcelona,

- 22-27/03 Beaune (F) : Grands Jours de Bourgogne,

- 25-28/03 Montréal (CDN) : Salon des Vins & Spiritueux de Montréal,

- 8-12/04 Verona (I) : Vinitaly,

- 16-18/04 Olne (B) : Salon des vins bio & naturels,

- 23-25/04 Palermo (I) : Concours Mondial de Bruxelles,

- 29/04-06/05 Adelaide (AUS) : Tasting Australia,

- 13-16/05 Aigues-Mortes (F) : Oenovideo,

- 18-20/05 London (GB) : London Wine Fair,

- 25-27/05 Hong Kong (CN) : Vinexpo Hong Kong,

- 27-28/05 Ampuis (F) : Syrah du Monde,

- 28-31/05 Ljubljana (SLO) : Vino Ljubljana,

- 1-6/06 Québec (CDN) : Sélections Mondiales des Vins Canada,

- 17-20/06 Visegrád (H) : Vinagora,

- 1-2 /07 Frontignan (F) : Muscats du Monde,

- 16-21/08 Stellenbosch (ZA) : Michelangelo Wine Awards,

- 20-22/08 Sierre (CH) : Mondial du Pinot Noir,

- 26-08-05/09 Neustadt (D) : Mundus Vini,

- 12-14/11 Lugano (CH) : Mondial du Merlot,


Record wine sales expected in Sweden

>> Tuesday, February 02, 2010

According to the forecast at the end of last year 2009 will be a record year for wine sales in Sweden. If December sales were as expected (as hoped for, is probably not the right expression in this country) sales for the full year would reach 174 million litres of wine, well above the last record from 2008 of 161 million litres. Sweden has since many years a retail monopoly on wine and spirits, through Systembolaget, in order to limit sales and to improve public health. Perhaps it is a sign of the monopoly’s efficiency that Sweden is doing so well compared to other countries in reducing consumption? More info: (Yes, that's Britt on the picture.)


Worcester Sauce and wine. Revealed!

>> Monday, February 01, 2010

Last month we asked the question “what does Worcester Sauce has to do with wine?” It was sparked by the wine blog called Worcester Sauce (sometimes called Worcestershire Sauce – the sauce, not the blog) idiosyncratically written by Stuart George. One (anonymous) reader suggested this explanation: “Worcester Sauce is a very well-known and rather emblematic cooking and cocktail-making ingredient (pronounced "wooster"), and I suppose some of Stuart's remarks might be considered cheeky, or saucy - hence, Worcester Sauce”. She added, importantly, as did another reader, that Stuart actually comes from Worcestershire. So, going to the source of the sauce, so to speak, Stuart confirms “my blog is called that name because I was born near Worcester!” Once again, here it is:

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