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Dan's Blog

The France Blog

Friday, March 22, 2019

I was going to call it the “Frog Blog” but the PC police said “mon dieu” or was it “sacré bleu” and wouldn’t allow me to do so. Anyhow, this week is all about France.

Let’s start with the fact that the French are drinking less wine, down some 20% since the turn of the century – that is some serious volume! Whilst over the same timeframe the USA has increased its wine consumption by a massive 53% (IOV Stats). The French, in 2017, still managed to consume 2.7 billion litres of wine but the Yanks consumed 3.26 billion litres that year. Part of the reason for the decline is that the younger generations, especially millennials are not following in their parent’s footsteps into becoming wine drinkers (a cautionary tale/alarm bells for Aussie winemakers - me thinks!!).

Having said that the average Frenchman still puts away around 51 litres of wine a year (68 bottles), just behind first placed Portugal at 52 litres. Here in Australia the figure is around 29 litres (38 bottles), in the USA it is a mere 12 litres (16 bottles), while in China it is less than 1.0 litre.

Paris has joined Vienna, Berlin and other old cities in promoting the fact that there are grapes grown within the city limits and wine made from these grapes.

Parts of Paris that have vineyards in their parks include, Bercy, Belleville, the 15th District and the famous Montemarte. The grapes are picked by volunteer citizens and the wine is made by the city Council’s chief winemaker. The Council keeps much of the wine made, using it for official city functions, whilst the wine made from the Clos de Morillons vineyard is auctioned off for charity each September.


In other news, French wine exports in 2018 rose almost 2.6% to nearly 9 billion Euros (roughly AUD15 billion) mainly due to increased sales to the USA and also in part due to UK wine merchants stocking up in these times of Brexit uncertainty. However, at the same time France suffered a 25% drop in sales to China. Whereas Australian wine is growing rapidly and has now surpassed French wine in the “average value per litre” stakes/race, despite the massive costs of individual bottles of the top French wines from Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy.


Additionally, they are currently facing a potential crisis with sales to the “Un-United” Kingdom due to the looming Brexit, where more than one chain of restaurants/pubs have begun replacing their French wines with either Australian and Chilean wines.

To finish off on an interesting note, in the famous region of Alsace, they have horse mounted patrols, the Green Brigade, who keep an eye out for grape theft, vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Grape theft is a real and serious concern for growers and whilst the thefts aren’t usually large, like a grape bin’s worth would be, the theft of a few bunches of the hardy Muscat grapes (which can also be eaten as table grapes) had been occurring so often that the patrol was introduced more than 10 years ago. The sixteen mounted officers average around 40 kilometres per day on their trusty steeds and even hand out parking tickets to people who park too close to the vines - that would be quite a “sight to see”.


That was just a little snippet of what is happening in the world’s heavy weight of wine, France. I trust that you found it interesting and that you have a great week, preferably enjoying wonderful Australian wines.

À ta bonne santé mes amis!

THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW:

This week I would like to talk about a sensational, unique, oddball. No! I am not talking about Chester Osborne, but rather one of his wines - The Cenosilicaphobic Cat 2012 Sagrantino Cinsaut.


Believe it or not, Cenosilicaphobia means the fear of an empty glass. It is an affliction which affects most of us “wine nuts”, so it is ever so cool that Chester has named a wine after our affliction.


This is an extraordinary wine. Firstly, how often do you see a current release wine that is seven years old these days? Hey, even Grange is only four years old when it is released.

Secondly, to the best of my recollections this is the only wine blend of Sagrantino and Cinsaut I have ever come across. Given that the former is Italian and the latter is French, like “oil and water” they should not mix, even in these “Euro days”.

But mixed these are, and boy what a result!

This wine has a fabulously attractive bright, purpley/red colour, given its age. The bouquet is subtle yet complex with a melange of herbs and spices included.

The palate is divine with lashings of flavour but still quite tight on the finish, auguring well for a much longer life, if cellared properly, or making it sensational right now with rich food dishes. I would even suggest decanting it an hour or so before the meal, so as to get the max pleasure out of this stunning oddball.

Enjoy and at all costs make sure that you avoid Cenosilicaphobia. Cheers!

PS: If you haven’t had a chance to visit the d’Arenberg Cube yet, you really should, it is as much a living work of art as it is a spectacular cellar door. Everything about it is amazing and incidentally the restaurant, after only 12 months in operation, was named “Regional Restaurant of the Year” for 2019, in the famous and prestigious European “Gault & Millau Restaurant Guide Awards.

Check out d’Arenberg at www.darenberg.com.au


PS: From now until the end of May the Cube is the South Australian home for the touring Salvador Dali Collection, giving you an unrivalled opportunity to see the works of this great Master whilst tasting some of Australia’s best wines – an awesome opportunity.