Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

French resume Champagne exports

This year’s harvest is underway at the Abrau-Durso vineyard on the Black Sea. It is the first since Russia passed a law that took effect in July and states that the country’s sparkling wine can be called ‘Champagne’ – Shampanskoye in Russian – while bubbly from elsewhere in the world, including France, must be described as ‘sparkling wine’. French producers account for 13% of the market in Russia. They had asked for a suspension of exports, but the Interprofessional Champagne Wines Committee (CIVC) said in September that it had made its feelings known to the Russians and was ending the boycott in order to avoid damage to French champagne makers.

French fraud case reaches court

Customers pay for quality, so it’s no surprise that winemakers want to make their product more desirable. However, two chateau owners in the St Emilion appear to have gone too far in seeking to move their wines up the list in order to make them more expensive. The owners of Chateau Angelus and Chateau Trotte Vieille have been accused by rivals of fiddling the system to earn Grand Cru Classe status, which can allow a price hike of around 30%. The case started in 2012 but has only now reached French courts. If found guilty, the accused could face imprisonment and fines of up to €500,000.

Roger aces it in Champagne films

Every month it seems that actors, sportsmen or supermodels launch new wines. Others prefer to collaborate with established brands. For a top-end establishment, it can be valuable to have an association with a high-profile individual who has a clean-cut image. That suggests the link-up between Moet & Chandon and Roger Federer should be a winning combination. The company’s video series is labelled, ‘Through the Eyes of …’ and recently featured five short films with the tennis ace. Evidently, the marketing team at the 150-year-old champagne house believe that sharing Federer’s profile will boost its reputation for serving up winners, even though some might find it a little dull and predictable.

Wine school working to help science

A wine school in France is redeploying its expertise to participate in a clinical study that could help cancer patients to recover their taste and smell after chemotherapy. Starting this month, the Mas de Saporta Languedoc wine centre in Lattes, near Montpellier will help with sensory analysis into disorders caused by the treatment. The work, which aims to help find a cure for the problem, is being run with experts from Montpellier University Hospital and the city’s Regional Cancer Institute.

Bubbly for Bond

The launch of the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, has revived the famous “shaken not stirred” quote used in reference to Martinis and used by all of the actors to have filled the role. But it’s not just cocktails that tickle Bond’s palate. He’s also been known to enjoy top-notch Russian vodka. And, when it comes to Champagne, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Bollinger have all made appearances – indeed, the latter produced a special edition to accompany this latest film. However, it seems that his favourite bubbly was Taittinger Blanc de Blancs 1945. All are reasonable choices, but perhaps not what we at L’Art du Vin would have recommended if invited to give advice.

Naked ambition of Portuguese pickers

Grandola in the Alentejo region is one of Portugal’s better-known wine producing areas. This year’s grape harvest drew unprecedented global attention when a band of pickers sought to combat the picking season’s high temperatures in their own unique way. The group are naturists and they turned up in the nude to pick the grapes, although some did wear hats and shoes. Thankfully there were no reported accidents involving wayward secateurs.