Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Philip James

1 billion bottles

Posted by Philip James, Jun 29, 2007.

Not the number of bottles in Snooth's database (just yet), but far worse, for it is the number of bottles worth of excess wine that is scheduled to be destroyed across Europe.

It's an interesting dichotomy as on one hand Europe makes most of the high end wine in the world and people are rightly dismayed when a prestigious wine growing region gets decimated by flooding or hail ( here too). Yet, simultaneously, a year's worth of sub-standard French production remains unsold, and sits in tanks, while growers negotiate with the European government for funding to distill it into fuel.

With now fully one quarter of Spanish wine being used for industrial purposes its time for reform. People (and people reading this especially) love wine, but enough with the poor substandard stuff. You churn that out for too long and people will ultimately vote with their feet and wallets, and thats exactly what has happened here. In the UK, Australian and Chilean imports have increased 20 fold in the last decade, while French wine imports dropped by 3% last year alone. I tasted far too many cheap, insipid, bad French and Italian wines while looking for undiscovered gems at my last job.

The old world needs to adapt. Its the same as how off-shoring has impacted communities here - call centers and car assembly can be done cheaper elsewhere, so the factory will get moved. Its obviously hard for the people suddenly without work to adjust, but at least here, there's an option, a clear route to take - make better wine!

Assume the cheap stuff will get made in the new world where labor costs are lower, and put the effort in to make better wine. Of course, this wont work for every producer, there's simply too much volume, but for the canny ones who move fast its a smart choice. But do it fast, while the Old World still has the perceived edge in quality, otherwise the perception of 'overpriced' won't be shaken off.

As for the billion bottles, surely there's a better use? Well, how about mouthwash ? As a sweet toothed Brit, I need all the help I can get here.

Finally, with the second link today (the word 'hail') I link to a new wine blog. The Wine Messenger blog. They don't post daily (yet - for shame) but they do post smart - lots of commentary from wineries and educational pieces. You may have already seen the authors, Stephen and Rodolphe, posting comments on the Snooth blog.

Have a great weekend!


Reply by amour, Dec 7, 2009.

Very enlightening...the underbelly.
There must be creative solutions.
It set me baths.
One of my companies makes spa treatments with grapes.EXCELLENT STUFF.

Reply by ChipDWood, Dec 8, 2009.

When they start pouring out the Mouton- I'll be there, with Mike Rowe, sucking on dirt with a straw.

If it's garbage, I would rather see them turning to other uses than pushing an inferior project.

Like, say, Australia.

Reply by penguinoid, Dec 9, 2009.

Don't think they'll be getting rid of any Mouton Rothschild just yet...

I wonder how much of a problem there'd be if some of these producers started focussing on quality rather than quantity? From what I've read elsewhere, most of this will be very low-grade 'vin de table', but with better viticulture and vinification I'd guess they'd be able to make lower quantities of better quality wine.

Where all else fails, brandy production might be a good idea. In which case, any money provided should be as a loan, to help start up (e.g.) cooperatives, and provide funding for the first five or ten years whilst the (soon to be high quality, expensive) brandy is maturing in barrel...

Reply by amour, Dec 9, 2009.

Many of us would agree that the emphasis has to be placed on better viticulture and vinification....ruthless pruning and cutting back and so on.

Do not want to mess outside my field...or is it vineyard!!!!!!!
THANKS penguinoid and everyone else. ( I AM Following this thread.)

Reply by dmcker, Dec 9, 2009.

You guys did notice that Philip's post is 2 1/2 years old. Even greater problems have emerged since then....

Reply by amour, Dec 9, 2009.

What is the latest, dmcker, if I may ask..????...just -in-brief...THANKS.

Reply by penguinoid, Dec 9, 2009.

Somehow I managed to avoid noticing that. Unfortunately, it seems it would require a change of mindset by vin de table producers towards emphasising quality over volume, and that doesn't seem to be happening. Which is a pity, to say the least.

Reply by Philip James, Dec 10, 2009.

Armour - you've trawled the depths of the forums and come up with some of the oldest posts we have. Some real blasts from the past are being resurfaced!

Reply by amour, Dec 11, 2009.

SNOOTH is my lover!
One day I will just pop into that LA FAYETTE office and pop a bottle of vintage something!!!
BOLINGER, KRUG or we could have a coffee with grappa if it is cold enough!

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