Archive for the 'French wine' Category

UNESCO recognizes Burgundy’s “climats” and Champagne’s hills

UNESCO_burgundy

UNESCO added wine regions to their list of World Heritage sites at Saturday’s meeting in Bonn. The 1,247 “climats” of Burgundy as well as the Champagne hillsides received official recognition as cultural sites.

UNESCO_burgundy_2Campaigns in each French region supported the bids as well as the French government since UN member states are limited in nominating sites in their own boundaries. Burgundy’s campaign video appears below (in English) with more details on their site. Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti led the campaign for Burgundy’s inclusion; above he is congratulated after the vote in favor.

The vineyards in the regions now receive an extra level of protection from future development and they qualify for additional financial aid for preservation and may get a fillip from additional tourism. A new Cité des Vins is slated to open next year in Beaune with the aim of welcoming 90,000 tourists. What do you think: will this make you want to visit more? I was pretty much sold at the word Burgundy…

St. Emilion in Bordeaux received World Heritage status in 1999, the Mosel in 2002, and Barolo and Barbaresco were recognized last year. There are 1,031 sites now on the list. Read more…

Things heating up in Europe

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Things are heating up in Europe–not just in Greece. A searing heatwave has the continent in its grasp.

Burgundy, which is known for producing wines more winsome than boxum, will have four days in the 100s (39C+) this week–and the balance in the 90s. Yikes. Searing temperatures are expected in Bordeaux, Barolo, Brunello and Britain as well to name a few places starting with “B.”

Generally, grape vines don’t like excessive heat. The later in the grapes’ ripening process the heat wave comes, the more difficult it can be to manage. This pamphlet (pdf) from Australia–no stranger to heat waves with a monster one in 2009 that pushed temperatures up over 100 for 14 days–states that the main effects are a loss of crop and reduction of quality. Mitigation strategies include irrigating vineyards during heatwaves, which may be an option in Barossa but not in Burgundy.

The last heat wave that had in impact on French wine was 2003, which was the hottest summer since 1540. The wines from that vintage got a lukewarm reception initially (except for the shootout at the St. Emilion Corral over the Pavie 2003) and they have aged poorly. Sadly, the 2003 heat wave also accounted for tens of thousands of deaths across France. Fortunately, that isn’t likely to be the case this time around.

Sadly, such hot summers in Europe are likely to become more frequent, even “commonplace” by the 2040s. In a study released last year, researchers from the Met Office, Britain’s weather service, predicted that once every five years Europe will have “a very hot summer.”

While it is too soon to tell how the 2015 vintage will work out, the vines will be under heat stress the next few days. Bonne chance.

burgundy_heat_wave

China’s vineyard area vaults past France

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More acres of grapes are now in China than France. The total vineyard area in China is 1.97 million acres (799,000 hectares) according to new stats presented yesterday in Paris by the OIV, the International Office of Vine and Wine.

Although vineyard area includes grapes for both winemaking (what we’re interested in) and table grapes (those can be good too), the rise of plantings in China over the past 14 years is staggering. Vineyard area in the EU is part of the Common Market Program and is governed by EU agricultural policy, which has been moving to reduce marginal vineyards through a policy known as “grubbing up” and limiting new plantings through a zero-sum formula of planting rights. Unhindered by such policies and with wine consumption rising, China’s vineyards were bound to overtake key EU countries one day. So far, however, it is in quantity only. Oh, this headline caught my eye the other day: “The head of China’s biggest wine brand admits its wines are terrible.”

The US remains the world’s largest wine consuming country. Check out our interactive chart below–be sure to click to see whether each market is growing or shrinking!

Data from OIV

Depardieu drinks 14 bottles of wine a day

gerard_depardieuFrench wine consumption has been declining for the past fifty years. But one man seems to be taking it upon himself to single-handedly reverse this trend: Gerard Depardieu.

The Frenchman-turned-ruski told the British site So Film, “I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles…per day. But I’m never totally drunk, just a little pissed.”

“All you need is a 10-minute nap and voilà, a slurp of rosé wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy!” He added.

He’s not likely to run out of wine since Depardieu owns Chateau de Tigne in Anjou. He once joked that his mother’s amniotic fluid was wine.

Faiveley buys Billaud-Simon in Chablis

billaud_simon_chablis1Domaine Faiveley of Burgundy has announced the acquisition of Billaud-Simon for their first vineyard purchase in Chablis. The 50-acre estate includes 4 acres of Grand Cru sites in Vaudésir, Les Clos, Les Preuses and Blanchots. They also have 22 acres of premier cru sites. Domaine Faiveley now has 350 acres in Burgundy.

I have always liked Billaud-Simon’s wines, so it is sad to see the end of an era. However, Erwan Faiveley (who chatted with us a few years ago), has really steered S.S. Faiveley in a good direction since taking the helm. So I will look forward to seeing the results of this acquisition.

Find Billaud-Simon Chablis at retail

Veuve Clicquot tablets sparkle on the internets

veuve_clicquot_tablets
How would it sound if you could carry tablets of Veuve Clicquot in your handbag and drop then in water to make a glass of the famous bubbly? To those who drive popular brand to sales of over a half a million cases a year in the US, that sounds like their kind of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”

Photos of Veuve Clicquot tablets have surfaced on the internets today and some have latched on to the story as real. But it is actually a hoax, put out by a “Russian communication agency.” So there you have it. Apparently the muckety mucks at LVMH are none-too-happy about this. But given the legs the story has had, maybe it’s an idea they should explore commercially? Well, maybe some producer in another region will…

Find Veuve Cliquot (bottled) at retail Read more…

France to ICANN: You can’t!

The French government is not happy about the prospect that internet users will soon be able to type in .wine and .vin instead of .com.

Mercifully, it isn’t another example of France’s bizarre neo-Prohibitionists at work again. Instead, the Minister of Digital Affairs (!) is protesting the new internet suffixes, known as generic top-level domains (or gTLDs), on the basis that cybersquatters could pluck such cherries as champagne.wine or bordeaux.vin right out of the ether, while having nothing to do with the wines of the region. Since these are protected names under international treaty, France is threatening Read more…

Put a Burg on it: d’Angerville Jura

pelican_jura

Guillaume d’Angerville has made sophisticated and elegant wines at his family domaine in Volnay since he took over in 2003. But recently, the story goes, his curiosity was piqued in the wines of the Jura: a Parisian sommelier poured him a chardonnay from the region blind and d’Angerville took it to be a white Burgundy. And we all know that happens with a successful and ambitious vintner who has his curiosity piqued: before long, d’Angerville had purchased two estates in the Jura.

He placed them under the name Domaine du Pélican complete with a pelican on the label. You might think that because the Jura is the ultimate wine for hipsters that, in deference to Portlandia, he had to “put a bird on it.” But apparently it is a reference to the coat of arms of Arbois, where the wines are made. Burgundy…Jura…is this a match made in sommelier heaven or what?

D’Angerville settled on the two properties after an extensive search. Even though Arbois is only an hour from Volnay, it gets twice the rainfall. Also, some of the plots can be quite windy, given the rolling countryside. Throw in his high standard for excellence and it’s no surprise that it took d’Angerville a few years to find the right spots. Wink Lorch has a detailed backgrounder (pdf) about the new domaine and writes that they are looking for yet another vineyard parcel in the area. They are also experimenting with the local “sous-voile” style of winemaking, wherein white wines mature under a natural yeast blanket giving them an oxidative quality.

The current wines are made in a Burgundian style, which is to say that the white barrels are topped up and not oxidative. The 2012 Chardonnay has a vibrancy and elegance with layers–strata?–of minerals and a lingering finish. The 2012 Savagnin Ouillé is richer, with a faint nutty character, and big dose of minerals (can’t vouch for vitamins). The red 2012 Trois Cépages is a blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau, and Poulsard (60-35-5) that has the terrific acidity you would expect as well as lively, prickly tannins that give it good structure.

These exciting wines are hard to find but worth seeking out. (Find these wines at retail)


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