It always starts again

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This year, we saw the vine withdraw into itself during the long days of drought, wait for the first drop of water, and then regain their health.

I am worried by the misinformation about wine in our media, when we should be rejoicing at the increase in publications about it. We need to support the media coverage, crushed by the iniquitous Loi Evin (in France), of a flagship product of our collective culture, vital for the preservation of rural landscapes and their appeal to a wide global audience. Not to mention the jobs and the presence of people in areas that would otherwise become moorland or desert hillsides. As the subject seems secondary and more entertaining than serious, investigations are often botched. Or, more seriously, they’re biased towards ideology rather than factual accuracy. I’ll pass over the doom and gloom that attracts onlookers to the vagaries of the weather and the woes of production. I’m not forgetting the bad faith of pseudo-environmentalists who blame agriculture and winegrowing for the pollution of our soil, our water and our homes when they are next to vines. This is their main commercial attraction. They’d be better off dealing with the real causes, which have to do with demographics and the discrepancy between our purchasing power and the cost of cleaner production of our food. But at the moment, global warming is all the rage. Should we change the origin of our grapes? And our old codes of culture and consumption to avoid the eventual disappearance of a product that we collectively cherish? The very thing that foreigners admire here at home? The Gallic cockerel in danger or at half-mast, that’s good drama with incompetent speakers. I recently had the good fortune to attend a remarkable scientific symposium, with some of the best ampelographers, on the subject of Burgundy’s climats being listed as a World Heritage Site. The subject was our grape varieties. What we now know thanks to the deciphering of plant DNA. This heritage concerns all the vineyards on the planet planted with these same grape varieties. We know more (but not everything) about the domestication of Vitis vinifera, about their travels and the complex genetic relationships that have enabled them to interbreed, refine and withstand countless climatic changes and diseases of all kinds. Chance, wind, rain and history have all played their part. We can only admire the incredible resilience of these grape varieties, provided that man allows the vine to develop its potential. This year, we saw it turn in on itself, then bounce back to brilliant health. Yes, 2022 will be one of the greatest vintages of the last fifty years, despite the fact that it was being heralded on television and radio as a lost cause. We don’t really need to create hybrid varieties. Nor is there any need to be chauvinistic, to be wary of small, modest and forgotten grape varieties or of grape varieties that are better recognised and planted in other regions. There is no more edifying example than the Jura Trousseau, of which the Francs-Comtois prided themselves on being the only producers in the world. Thousands of hectares of Spanish and Portuguese vines produce it. As for the harvest and the difficulty of finding pickers, there is a radical remedy. Mechanised harvesting. For 90% of our production, machines are becoming more and more efficient, making opposition to their use obsolete. Manual haute couture will remain the preserve of expensive wines from the best terroirs. The tragedy that may arise concerns the workforce involved in working the soil and the vines. Thousands of well-paid jobs that keep the regions alive and those who live there free from the stress of the cities are no longer being taken up. People refuse to be a little cold or a little hot, to work hours or days that are not those of urban jobs. Who will provide us with food and drink in the future? That’s the real concern. I see young winegrowers moving here from the city, hoping to find more freedom and creativity in the fields. And for their children, better air and better concentration in their studies. We all need them. Let’s reward their efforts by paying for the fruits of their labour. Drinking wine at less than five euros a bottle is a poor gesture towards our own future.

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