This week all the news comes from France. A country which apart from claiming to be the producers of some of the best wines in the world, can also lay claim to the most turbulent and at times violent wine industry in the world.
VINOUS TERRORISM: On several occasions I have reported on the French winemaker’s vandalism of Spanish bulk wine being imported into France. Their actions have included: emptying tanker trucks on the side of the road, raiding bottle shops/supermarkets that sell cheap wines from Spain and destruction at several wineries that they believed were using cheap Spanish wine in their wines.
Well it appears that after over two years of this thuggish, violent, destructive behaviour, the “long arm of the law” has caught up with some of them. In mid-January the police arrested seven Languedoc winemakers in relation to some of the various incidents mentioned. This led to a tense standoff between growers/winemakers (numbering around 200-300) and riot police in the town of Montpellier. In typical fashion the demonstrators set fire to trash bins outside the police station and stopped the trams from getting past there.
The detainees are suspected of being members of the ‘terrorist’ organisation, CRAV (Comite Regionale d’Action Viticole), who have been carrying out this vandalism and arson for over two years.
CHAMPAGNE POPS: The good folk of Champagne are having a bun-fight with the growers of the surrounding areas. The Champagne growers want to put severe limits on new plantings in the areas surrounding them, so as to maintain the integrity of Champagne.
These ‘evil’ growers outside of Champagne are seeking permission to plant as many hectares as possible of new vines as part of a project to restore a region called Île-de-France which up until the 1800s was one of the top wine producing regions in France. The new plantings are now possible due to an EU planting de-regulation which was passed in 2016. This de-regulation allows growers to increase there under vine by 1% per annum – Wow, what a threat this must be to Champagne!!
The very powerful “Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne” (SGV) – Champagne Growers Union, want to create a 25 kilometre grapevine planting exclusion zone around the perimeter of their region, so that the Île-de-France growers cannot pass their wines off as Champagne and cause chaos and confusion in the wine world.
This is part of the region’s most sweeping changes since 1927. Champenoise are in the process of revising the boundaries to their region by expanding northwards through some 40 villages, to take into account the impact that global warming will have on the area over time.
Interestingly, the only existing growing area that the SGV is looking to delist is not in the south of the region but rather around Soissons directly to the west of Rheims. So while the south warms up too much (over time) to make classical Champagne, they can stay. In fact, the SGV is well into a 10-year research project to find new grape varieties which could be used to make Champagne that still tastes like the current ones do. They are working on 11 different possible varieties.
Champagne producers are expanding to the north and investing in other countries such as England, but their neighbours MUST be stopped from increasing their vineyards by 1% in size each year as they could impact on the sales of Champagne and cause global confusion! REALLY? Hey Goliath! This isn’t your David! You should be more focused on your real competition: English Fizz, Aussie Bubbles, Sekt, Prosecco and Cava rather than the little minnows down the road from you. Especially as sales of Champagne in 2017 fell by four million bottles in the UK.
VIVE le FRANCE! The land of rules, regulations and confusion!!
THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW:
I know that Chardonnay is out of favour with many wine drinkers, but every now and then you come across a Chardy that is truly divine.
Recently I came across the GARTELMANN 2016 ORANGE ‘SARA ELIZABETH’ CHARDONNAY: From a vineyard situated at 620 metres above sea level on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, this barrel fermented, matured on stirred lees, chardonnay is bloody brilliant!
Starting with the gorgeous stonefruit aromas, coupled with some elegant vanillin oak that seduces the oleofactory senses, then we move on to the enchanting palate which is redolent in rich, creamy, subtle flavours, quite complex with lovely buttery characters and a hint of honey. This wine is perfectly balanced, creamy, divine and oh, so smooth, with a super, lingering finish. OUTSTANDING!
Celebrating 22 years in the Hunter Valley, GARTELMANN WINES produces ubber quality wines from NSWs premium wine regions, including the cool (in every way) climate Orange region.
Check out this wine and the rest of their excellent range at www.gartelmann.com.au – you won’t be disappointed. Cheers!