Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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A few dispatches from a bizarre little island off the north coast of France

Join conference

You may have thought that the government of this bizarre island were convinced that they should get out of the EU. However, in July they will host a conference that seeks to persuade countries from the Western Balkans to join the EU. See below – you couldn’t make it up!

Here are some of the details as reported in The Independent 

‘The British government will host a summit encouraging six European countries to join the EU for the sake of their “security, stability and prosperity”, months before it is due to sign its own Brexit withdrawal deal with Brussels.

London will in July play host to Western Balkans governments including Serbia and Albania, as well as existing EU member states, to discuss reforms to pave the way to future EU enlargement.

The summit is part of the so-called Berlin Process – a series of meetings aimed at supporting the region towards joining the bloc and described by the European parliament’s research arm as “bringing a new perspective and impetus to the enlargement process”.’


Early example of the new potential Cru Vallet:



Tasted and enjoyed this 2014 ‘Cru Communaux’ Vallet from Domaine Petiteau this evening. Vallet is one of the latest Muscadet communes to start out on the quest to become a recognised cru communaux. Vallet launched its quest last year. 

The Petiteau’s Vallet spends at least 17 months on its lees. Light gold colour with delicate brioche aromas and attractive appley texture with good concentration, balance and length. The long finish has a refreshing touch of bitterness in the finish. This Vallet clearly has the potential to age well and develop further in the bottle.



In praise of ebikes

Front view

We had already decided that when cycling became too difficult we would invest in a pair of ebikes. A purchase we saw as for sometime in the future.

My accident on 2nd January when I separated my quads from my left knee cap, brought the acquisition of an ebike forward. Although my knee and quads are now working increasingly well together, I am keen not put too much strain on my left knee. Anyway that is my excuse.

Last Friday afternoon I took possession of a Giant Pro 1 ebike from Cadence Performance at Crystal Palace.

The Giant Pro 1 is a revelation. It makes going up hills easy and a pleasure. There was a time when I was considerably young that I found it easy to climb most hills. I went up some of the classic Tour de France climbs including the Tourmalet, Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez.

Close up battery

View of the battery of the bike while on charge 

Some might see an ebike as cheating, which it would be if you were in a race with a hidden battery but this is certainly not the case with the Pro 1 as the battery and engine are in full view. 

I understand that ebikes are now very popular in Holland and they are becoming more popular in this little island. There is much to be said for anything that persuades people that biking can be enjoyable, especially if they tend to be sedentary and are not super-fit whippets…
Reducing weight should help people to live longer and so drink more wine – in modération, of course.

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Ways of raising the profile of the Vignerons Indépendants in the UK


Le Millésium (Epernay) – where the rencontres were heldImage

Last Thursday I was kindly invited to address the Rencontres Nationales des Vignerons Indépendants de France in Epernay. I was asked to talk on the UK market and what the Vignerons Indépendants meant to the UK wine trade and the wine drinking public.

My post last week covered some of the elements of the difficult UK market, so this week I’m concentrating on the Vignerons Indépendants – both the organisation and the notion of individual independent vignerons.

As far as the organisation – Les Vignerons Indépendants – is concerned it is virtually unknown in the UK. Only a few trade buyers, wine journalists and some enthusiastic amateurs are aware of its existence, especially those who have been to the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants that are regularly held in Paris and other French cities.

Unfortunately in January the UK wine trade will have been confused by two tastings of individual French producers held in London on consecutive days. On the 15th January Le Salon Professionnel des Vignerons Indépendants de France organized by UBIFrance, which the following day there was a very similar tasting called French Wine Discoveries, which was organized by another company. The previous year both organisations had worked together. I have no idea and little interest in why they decided to go their own ways this year but it certainly created unnecessary confusion.

In the UK there is a much greater knowledge of the notion of an individual producer – of a producer who is neither a négociant or a coopérative. The image amongst enthusiastic wine lovers of the independent producer growing and making their own wine is often very positive.  I suspect, however, for the general wine drinker the price remains all important – who makes it is immaterial providing the price is right.

In early March I met the commercial director of a cave coopérative in Saint-Chinian, who sells to Morrisons, a UK supermarket chain. When his Saint-Chinian is sold at full price £9.99, they sell about a 100 bottles a week. Put it on ‘special half-price offer’ and they clear 25,000-30,000 bottles a week. Presumably when ‘half-price’ it may well actually be selling at its true value.

If the Vignerons Independents want to raise their profile in the UK, here are two suggestions for their consideration: increase the frequency of their excellent Pique-nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant and hold a Salon des Vins des Vignerons indépendants in London or perhaps in another UK city such as Manchester or Edinburgh.


Picnic@Château de l’Aulée, Azay le Rideau (May 2012)

Pique-nique chez le Vigneron Indépendant is an excellent and very enjoyable idea. I have thoroughly enjoyed the three that I have been able to get to – two in 2012 and one in 2011. Unfortunately they are only held once a year. In 2011 it was in June, last year it was the end of May, while in 2013 they will be from 18th-20th May.

These are wonderfully convivial occasions and a real opportunity to meet both producers but also share time with other wine enthusiasts. It seems such a pity to just hold these pique-niques just once a year. Why not also hold some during that July and August when France has many foreign visitors?


The 2013 edition of the Real Wine Fair held in London – 17th and 18th March

The success of the REAL Wine Fair and RAW shows that amongst wine enthusiasts there is a demand to meet and discover authentic wines – wines that have been made ‘naturally’ and without artifice. Yes there are problems over ‘natural’ wines with its lack of a definition and criteria as well as some badly made examples. However, there is an underlying demand for the authentic – the artisanal – that the Vignerons Indépendants ought to be able to tap into.

Both RAW and REAL attract wine enthusiasts who are very switched onto social media and I’m sure that if there was a Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants held in the UK it would also generate a lot of attention on Twitter and Facebook etc.


Agnieszka Kumor

While at the Rencontres nationales I was delighted to meet Agnieszka Kumor, a Polish wine journalist now living in Paris. Agnieszka is a much-valued contributor to our Les 5 du Vin blog. It was great to finally meet her and listen to her presentation of the Polish market.