Herewith a brief look back at some aspects of 2015:
In late January my father died at the age of 95. Curiously his death has made a greater impact than that of my mother in 2007. I guess it is a question of now having lost both parents.
The ticking of one’s own biological clock grows a little louder.
Paris murders: 13th November 2015
Tributes, at the Hotel de Ville, Tours to those killed in Paris
Another year of infamy for Champagne
The CIVC’s unnecessary and disgraceful legal pursuit of Jayne Powell (Champagne Jayne) continued. There was unsuccessful mediation in March, a final day’s hearing in the Federal Court in Melbourne in April and then a long wait for the judgment on 20th October. The Australian legal system does seem to take an awfully long time to produce a verdict.
Thankfully the judgment was humiliating for the CIVC and the Champagne producers: Jayne could keep her Champagne Jayne moniker, she hadn’t tarnished the image of Champagne nor had she transgressed Australian Consumer Law. The final act, I hope, came on 23rd December when Jayne undertook not to call herself a Champagne ambassador and agreed that if mentioning other sparkling wines on social media she would make it clear that they are not Champagne. Wishing to be helpful I suggest that #muchbettervaluethanchampagne ought to be a very useful hashtag.
The most disappointing aspect of this entirely unnecessary and bullying legal action is that to the best of my knowledge not one Champagne producer has had the courage to protest at the CIVC’s vicious action. As Edmund Burke remarked: « The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. »
My ban on tasting, drinking or visiting Champagne will continue at least until the end of 2016. It has been no hardship not to drink any Champagne during the whole of 2015. There are plenty of alternatives including Loire fizz and more and more good English sparklers.
Interesting to see that Taittinger has bought land in England and plans to learn how to make good sparkling wine here. Champagne producers are welcome in the UK providing they leave their litigious ways on the other side of the Channel.
Hachet (Hachette) job
Hachette, publishers of Elle magazine, demonstrated that the Champagne producers are not alone in suffering from legal diarrhoea when they made their asinine objection to the Domaine d’elles in Bourgueil.
Everton Football Club showed that legal corporate bullying is regrettably widespread with their absurd pursuit of the Everton Farm Shop in the village of Everton.
It would be good to see less of this heavy-handed corporate bullying in 2016 but I doubt very much that this will happen.
A magical evening in Mid-September indicated that the notion that Loire reds should be drunk young can be a little wide of the mark. We were privileged to taste, perhaps that should be drink, an 1865 Bourgueil followed by a 1857 Vouvray. Both wines were amazingly fresh and drinkable for their age.
The Loire had a good vintage in terms of quality with the exception of the Pays Nantais hit by rain in mid-August – just at the wrong time for the Melon de Bourgogne. Some producers have been disappointed with the size of the harvest particularly as for many, except in the privileged Central Vineyards, suffered from small harvests in 2012 and 2013.
Vouvray in Montlouis
One of the most absurd stories of the year was the ban on François Chidaine and Jacky Blot from vinifying their Vouvray in the neighbouring commune of Montlouis. I suspect that it will require a challenge to the Conseil d’Etat to sort out this nonsense.
Changes to Bordeaux en primeur tasting
A little before Christmas changes were announced to the Bordeaux en primeur tastings for the Press. Instead of having several different venues for the tastings the main tastings will be held over two days in a football stadium. There will no longer be the option to taste the wines blind, which has raised some eyebrows. However, tastings of Burgundy en primeur are not blind, although they are tasted a good year after the vintage unlike Bordeaux which is insanely early.
The result of these changes is likely to mean that more and more properties will insist that tasters come to them with all the increased CO2 emissions this implies from cars carrying tasters rushing around the Médoc, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol .
By the time of the en primeur tastings in early April 2016 the Bordeaux hype machine will have been fully cranked up. It remains to be seen whether consumers, who to date have lost on the 2010s if bought en primeur, can be tempted back into the market.