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But ”Cru Bourgeois” will perhaps rise again

>> Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So it is forbidden to use the classification Cru Bourgeois. What to do? Why not create a “label” that could be called “Label Cru Bourgeois”? Then it wont be a classification but simply a label. Well, that is at least what the producers’ union (the owners of the Cru Bourgeois) are proposing, according to Frederique de Lamothe. She says further, according to Decanter, “we still need some mark of quality to reassure consumers”… Is this perhaps what the English call “smoke and mirrors”? What about letting the consumers decided for themselves what is quality and what is not? Too daring perhaps.


”Cru Bourgeois” banned latest chapter in the classification carrousel in Bordeaux: DGCCRF (“La Fraude”), the French administration responsible for counteracting fraud (and other things), has issued a decreed to the effect that it is no longer allowed to use the name “Cru Bourgeois”. This follows on the court decision earlier this year that annulled the new Cru Bourgeois classification (se earlier Brief). In other words, we will no longer see “Cru Bourgeois” on the labels. It is likely to take effect for wines from the 2006 or 2007 harvest.


Bordeaux named World Heritage Site by Unesco

040918-136-3662Large parts of the city of Bordeaux has been given World Heritage status by Unesco. It is primarily the old city centre and its river-facing facades that have been honoured. The city has for several years been undergoing massive restorations which have given the old city a new lustre and life. and also


Wine making as in roman times

am15-310-1002An American wine producer has started making wine in huge terracotta amphorae – the way wine was made in roman times it is said. It is Del Dotto Winery in St Helena that has invested in earthenware instead of stainless steel, to get an added historical touch for the wines. 6000 cases are made.
(PS: We can perhaps add that also Domaine Viret in the Rhône valley experiments with making wine in terracotta amphora (picture).)


Record early harvest in Italy too

The very warm weather, already early in the year, has led to that an exceptionally early harvest is expected – the earliest harvest for 30 years. Early ripening grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio) will be harvested already at the beginning of August, and late harvesting varieties (Cabernet, Nebbiolo) will be harvested in September and not in the customary October.


Dutch wine threaten by EU reform?

Dutch wine growers are worried that the proposed ban on adding sugar to the must will make it impossible to make wine in Holland. Virtually all wine made in Holland is chaptalised, since the vines themselves don’t produce enough sugar in the grapes this far north, according to Dik Beker from the Dutch Winegrowers Guild. But perhaps one can wonder why one should make wine at all in a place where the vines cannot ripen enough naturally… Oh, you didn’t know there was wine made in the Netherlands to start with. There are 135 growers who produce 800,000 litres of wine annually. We have tasted it…


The main themes in the EU reform

am21-317-1736Until then, here are the main themes of the reform:
- abolition of market management measures (e.g. “crisis” distillation)
- ban on sugar for enrichment (chaptalisation)
- grub up 200,000 hectares
- end planting restriction (by 2013)
- allow more (generally accepted) oenological practices, e.g. oak chips
- better labelling rules
- national financial envelopes (with national control)
- more marketing budget

More details on the reform here.


The EU wine reform

In early July the EU launched its proposal for reform of the wine sector. Today large amounts of money are spent on various measures, that may not always improve the competitiveness of the wine industry, for example financing distillation of wine that no one wants to buy. The proposal has of course generated a lot of reaction from the main wine producing countries in the EU, but perhaps less violent reactions than could have been expected. Mariann Fischer Boel is on a tour of Europe to promote her proposal. We will come back to the proposed measures when we’ve had a closer look.


Machine identifies corked wines

ah24-246-4635The restaurant Latour in new Jersey, has developed a machine (in collaboration with UC Davis) that can identify if a wine is corked or not – without opening the bottle! The machine takes a sample of the air around the cork and the capsule and detects traces of TCA. Much like some airport security machines can detect explosives through air sampling in your bag.



Otherwise, the latest packaging innovation is wine in plastic bags. Not the ones you carry home the bottles in of course. Many people are familiar with wine packaged in plastic bags: all bag-in-box wines are in reality package in plastic bags, only the bag is hidden inside the box. Latest packaging news is to dispense with the box (environmentally friendly!) and sell the wine in a nicely decorated bag with a tap. Why not?


Wine in plastic bottles

Sainsbury’s, the big British retail supermarket chain, will start selling wine in plastic bottles. One of the arguments is that it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And it is easier to handle for the retail chain too: lower weight and fewer broken bottles. If all wine in England was packaged in plastic instead of in glass it would equate to 28,000 fewer cars on the roads in terms of carbon emissions.


BKWine Pick:

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Domaine Vincent Paris, Cornas

050416-196-9682 Vincent Paris made his first wine in 1997 and was soon mentioned as one of the future young stars in Cornas. Now it is perhaps time to remove future. Vincent’s uncle is the well known producer Robert Michel, maker of some of the finer Cornas wines, so he has some family traditions to build on. He was fortunate to inherit some very old vines, which, together with low yields and a meticulous work in both the vineyard and the winery makes for very full-bodied and concentrated Syrah wines. Click here for contact details and more recommendations.


BKWine Pick: Mas de Perry

>> Monday, August 20, 2007

Mas de Perry, Languedoc

am22-319-1979Geneviève and Didier Ponson-Nicot and the two children manage this charming family property just north of Montpellier. Stéphanie, the daughter is responsible for the wine making and Olivier, the son, for the vineyards. They make a very good Grenache Blanc-Marsanne cuvée and a very unusual and interesting on 100% Ugni Blanc – late harvest (but it’s a dry wine) and 3 hectolitres per hectare… Mas de Perry is probably a domain that we will hear more of in the future. Click here for contact details and more recommendations.


BKWine Brief nr 49, August 2007

This is a summer when I feel very English: always talking about the weather. Will it change or not? For most people a summer like this year’s is disappointing but for wine growers it can have much more drastic consequences (as, of course, it has had for many non-wine growing people in England too). It is still far from certain if wine growers will face any such dramatic consequences this year. July has been very cool and rainy in many places in France, but if August and September turns out a little bit better there should be no grave consequences. So, let’s hope for the best.

It has become illegal to put Cru Bourgeois on the label in Bordeaux (read more below). The new Cru Bourgeois classification of 2003 was annulled and many people thought that they would simply revert to the old classification from 1932 (still much more recent than the still valid general Médoc classification of 1855). But no. Let’s hope that the chateaux have not pre-printed too many labels. And what will happen with the classification in Saint Emilion? They had a new classification in 2006 that also has been annulled by the courts (after complaints from some of the chateaux that were not included, just like with the Cru Bourgeois). And since the “old” classification in St E only was valid from 1996 to 2006 there is no more any classification on Saint Emilion. Or?... And what about Pessac-Léognan/Graves? They have been working on a new classification since a few years back. Will they dare go ahead with that in the current climate, knowing what it can lead to? We asked some time ago one of the wine growers in Graves how they would do a classification. He said that the only real "measure" to base a classification on is how much the consumers are prepared to pay for the wines. But for the consumer it is very easy to see how much a wine costs so why do we then need the classification(s)? Perhaps time to scrap them altogether?

Being summertime, this month’s Brief is a little bit shorter. But considering this summer, perhaps it is time to start thinking about next vacation.

I certainly recommend that you take a look at next year’s first wine tour, which actually is a wine, truffle and foie gras tour. The final and official program has just been released. It may sound luxurious, and that’s exactly what it is. On top of the gastronomic highlights we will stay at a very nice little chateau-hotel (I’m keeping up the British theme here – this is an understatement). If this trip won’t brighten up a dreary February for you nothing will. And I’m happy to say that it is also at a very affordable price. More info below.

In the last Brief I wrote some comments about wine scoring with some references to Wine Spectator that had scored the same wine very differently at two different occasion. Wine Spec’s Executive Editor Thomas Matthews wanted to clarify a what had actually happened and wrote us the following note:

“Just a point of clarification: The wine referred to in the San Francisco Chronicle article (not WSJ, as cited in the blog) on wine rating, which received different scores from Wine Spectator in two tastings, was not exactly the "same wine." It was a Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon tasted on two occasions nearly 10 years apart. It's no wonder it received different scores -- as wine lovers know, wines change with age, and only the very best improve over such a long period of time. From our point of view, the two different scores show the integrity of our evaluation system, reflecting real differences not necessarily obvious, given the wine had the same label. I don't argue that wine ratings in themselves should be the only information wine drinkers use to choose the wines they decide to buy and enjoy. But using an expert's experience as part of a personal evaluation seems reasonable. We do it for many goods in many fields. Why not wine?
Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator”

If you are curious you can read what our reply was in the blog here:


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

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