Since this is my last post of 2011, it is time to glance back at some stories or themes that have held our attention this year.
Natural wine is surely the only serious contender for the theme of year even though there is yet to be an agreed definition of the term. In the UK, May saw the three-day Natural Wine Fair held in London’s Borough Market. In capital there are now a number of wine bars whose focus is on natural wines. Two books have explored the meaning of natural wine: Alice Feiring’s Naked Wine: Letting grapes do what comes naturally and Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop MW’s Authentic Wine.
If you define natural or authentic wine, as Goode and Harrop prefer, as reflecting place, site or its terroir it’s difficult to see how a wine lover could object, especially when contrasted with the type of brands designed specifically for supermarket discounting. Rather it is the level of non-intervention that can pose the problem. There is no point in hailing a wine as natural when it is so faulty that all authenticity of place has been obliterated. Apparently there was a popular French joke in the early part of the 19th century which ‘suggested that it took three to drink a bottle: one to hold the person, a second to pour it down his throat, and finally the victim himself.’ (James Simpson: Creating Wine – the emergence of a World Industry, 1840-1914). A return to these days would hardly be progress!
I look forward to a more nuanced debate in 2012.
Loire: the remarkably mild spring and early flowering
Following a prolonged and very warm spring, some vines in the Loire started flowering in early May – remarkably early. On 9th May I was in Bourgueil and there were certainly signs of flowering – amazingly three weeks in advance even of an early year. Much talk of 2011 being the earliest harvest since 1893. In the end a wet and cool July delayed the harvest but even so a number of Loire producers completed two harvests within twelve months.
1855 – 1855.com
It will be amazing to discover that 1855 has delivered all the 2008 Bordeaux en primeur its customers ordered. It is equally remarkably that 1855 has been allowed to continue to ‘trade’ despite years of failing to deliver Bordeaux en primeurs ordered and paid for by their frustrated customers.
Unfortunately I expect this will continue into 2012 with further technical delays and promises of deliveries that aren’t kept. It would seem very likely that Jean-Pierre Meyers will continue to supply sufficient capital to keep the company afloat. Equally probably that Le FEVAD will admit them as full members. One new element may be the discovery that there are delays in the payments due to suppliers of châteauonline.
Pancho Campo MW – Campogate
Just before Christmas Campo surprised some people by revealing on Facebook that he was testing a new McLaren prototype as part of a new project. Surprised that the organiser of several Climate Conferences should flaunt such an ‘ungreen’ thing as this series of tweets from Robert Joseph indicates:
Robert is only the latest of many who have taken Campo at his word only to realise that they have been taken in. All too often they forget that Campo is a promoter – a showman, whose commitment to the issues surrounding climate change was only as deep as was needed to sell the conference concept.
It may well be that Campo has recognised that his career in wine is now either over or, if it continues, will be far less lucrative and so is looking to move on again. I can’t imagine that Campo thought for a moment what Al Gore’s reaction might be, even though it is believed that Gore gave Campo the names of a couple of American lawyers who might be able help him out over the Interpol wanted notice.
The only long-term conviction Campo holds is the one handed down in absentia in Dubai in early June 2003.