The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2010

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Page 24 of 100

WINE BRIEFS Languedoc Rises from the (Volcanic) Ashes D espite the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, wine producers from the Languedoc arrived in New York in April to roll out a three-city Ambassador tour. With colleagues and cases suspended in travel five days after the eruption, local importers and distributor reps made the best of the natural disaster, pitching in and pouring some 26 wines from 13 appellations. The wines were selected by a panel of American journalists as representations of the Languedoc’s emerging style and quality. Other stops on the tour included Boston and Washington, D.C. What’s new here? The primary message is the same: Languedoc wines aren’t your grandpapa’s table wines. But there’s a renewed emphasis on the Languedoc AOC, one of France’s most recent appellations. Though the labeling laws changed three years ago, not all producers have adopted it (many still bear the Coteaux de Languedoc AOC). The new, streamlined label is part of the campaign to segment higher- quality wines from Vin de Pays wines. The goals are set high: 80 to 100 million bottles a year on the international commercial market. And while “Millennials” may be the buzz word in marketing these days, Languedoc is focusing on the 30- to 45-year-olds—the youngest demo- graphic group of wine drinkers identified for the controlled origin wines. Look for a new focus on sustainability: More than 30 percent of France’s organic viticulture is found here. Currently more than 400 vineyards engage in some sustain- able practice, and the number of certified producers bumps up an average of 16 percent per year. Languedoc wines at the recent Ambassador tour. Update from Chile It may be some time before the world wine markets can gauge the effect of Chile’s earthquake on the country’s wines, but those on the ground there are coming forth with their own assessments. Wines of Chile President René Merino estimated the loss at 125 million liters, including bulk, bottled and aging wine—about 12 percent of the 2009 harvest. That translates to about US$250 million. Hard hit: Santa Rita, Concha y Toro, Montes, Santa Carolina, Miguel Torres and J. Bouchon. Mario Pablo Silva, President of Viñas de Colchagua, esti- mates the total loss of stock (bulk and bottled wine) in the valley at approximately 25 million liters—about 20 percent 24 / the tasting panel / june 2010 of the total national loss. Casa Lapostolle’s main winery here reported less than 5 percent of its reds in barrel was lost and virtually none of the Chardonnay. About 20 percent of the bottles in rack was lost (2008 production) and the 2009 vintage is completely intact. It will be released this month to compensate for the loss of 2008 bottles. The 2010 harvest has been unaffected, and bottling and labeling operations have been restored. Efforts to restore Chile’s wine industry in hard-hit regions include the Levantando Chile Fund, a fundraising initiative launched by NESsT and Wines of Chile that will support vineyard workers affected by the earthquake. —L.B. —Lana Bortolot PHOTO: LANA BORTOLOT

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