In our beautiful country, the wine route could provide a more original route to the Tour de France cyclist than those borrowed in recent years by the great loop for commercial reasons. Let us add that we find common words in the language of the Tour and in that of the wine profession. On his bike, the runner climbs passes. In his property, the winemaker sells collars, namely bottles. By bike we climb the coasts, in the field of wine the word "ribs", often precedes a local or regional name.
By leaving the Tour de France in Loire Atlantique one could, to choose, to make stage in Angers or Tours. Then return to the country of cognac wines before joining Bordeaux then the Pyrenean departments all of which have vineyards, not to mention the Lot, the Tarn and other departments of the South West, then to approach the Mediterranean facade. Before returning to the Rhone Valley, you can cross the Bonnette pass, which is also the highest in Europe. Tackling Mount Ventoux, can overlook the vineyards under the sun of summer. At the foot of some passes of the Savoyard departments, wine is also made, as well as Beaujolais and the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy. From there we will join the neck of the Sickle in the Jura. We will then switch to the Alsatian vineyard after climbing the Grand Ballon. The return to Paris must be done by Champagne, since it is traditional to taste its bubble drink to celebrate the winner of the Tour.
A profession motivated by the search for excellence
Until the direction of the Tour offers us this course, we can do it with his glass hand from Friday 22 to Monday 25 March at the Salon des vignerons indépendants. It opens every day at 10 am at Espace Champerret, along the ring road in Paris (1). Anyone who has been attending this show for a few years may find that the pursuit of excellence motivates many exhibitors. It is mainly family farmers who, by dispensing intermediaries between the producer and the consumer, manage to live on modest surfaces by maintaining jobs there.
Exports of wines and spirits yielded more than 13 billion euros to France in 2018 while the country's trade balance shows an annual deficit of around 60 billion euros. This success in the export of wines and spirits pushes the big houses of the trade to wish an increase of the plantations for, say they, to gain new market shares. This is particularly the case for the major cognac houses whose names are LVMH, Rémy Cointreau, Pernod Ricard and others.
But the French are drinking less and less cognac and a turnaround in the export market would lead the suppliers of these houses to transform too much white grapes cultivated for distillation into wine for everyday consumption, which would destabilize the market. This is the way that the exit of quotas by country has dropped the price of milk since 2015 and that of sugar beet since 2017.
Prudente, the viticultural profession is mainly opposed to this leap forward in the new plantations. It should also be noted that independent winemakers, attentive to the expectations of their customers, are more and more likely to reduce chemical treatments, to produce biodiversity on plots and to convert to organic farming.
On the show, we taste and discuss
On the show of independent winemakers we tasted and discussed, we improve its knowledge on the particularities of such grape variety, such terroir, on the potential of guard of this or that name, this or that year. Overall, we already know that the 2018 vintage will be excellent and very good in almost all regions of the country, even if the sale is not yet for this spring show for wines aged in barrels. On a show, you also learn to taste and use the "spittoon". Taste without swallowing is essential to satisfy his curiosity.
On the show too, we sometimes learn that a winemaker lost all or part of his harvest last year because of a late frost in the spring, or even a hail storm in summer. Because winegrowers are already among the main victims of global warming. When in the Paris region we see the cherry blossoms of our gardens bloom from the March after the apricot trees two weeks earlier, sometimes we fear the worst for our suppliers of quality wines that have often become friends. All the more reason to make some purchases from them at the end of March 2019. With them, the debates are always full of sincerity.
(1) Metro and exit of the "Porte de Champerret" ring road. Paid parking in the basement, subject to availability