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From Bordeaux and the Loire

I’m at the very beginning of a combined Loire-Bordeaux trip. Well, when it is barely more than a three-hour drive from my house south of Chinon to the vineyards of Bordeaux, it would be silly not to visit both regions, wouldn’t it?

I drove down from Scotland on Saturday (this explains my web-silence for the day – although I expect most people just assumed I had been invited to Harry and Meghan’s wedding), and arrived to find the Loire Valley basking beneath a blue and cloudless sky. It was warm and bright, the temperature 24ºC, certainly very different to what I left behind in Scotland. My neighbour’s fields are planted with wheat, lush and green, but just starting to fade to a golden hue in parts, and the air above swarmed with little puffs of windborne seed. It was simply glorious.

I can’t comment on any vineyards as I spent Sunday carving out a new running route through the woods, undertaking an emergency fence repair (one which looks like it will last until the next vaguely energetic breeze arrives) and making some last-minute adjustments to my plans for the week ahead. Happily, however, with the region having escaped any significant frost this year (phew!) I would expect them to be in good shape.

Bordeaux Timetable

Today (Monday) I am off to Bordeaux, for five days of visits. It has all been a bit last-minute, as I couldn’t get my head around arranging visits until I had come back from my primeurs trip. Nevertheless, I think I have a pretty decent timetable ahead (as my snap above should suggest), one  which runs at a slightly more relaxed pace than the primeurs. The main aim is to taste some 2015s, as for various reasons I forewent my usual in-bottle tasting trip last year, so expect an in-bottle report on the 2015 vintage soon. Secondly, I have a handful of longer visits and more extensive tastings lined up, in Margaux and in Pomerol, Château Lafleur in the case of the latter, so expect some tasting reports and verticals before too long. And thirdly, I have some research for another project I am working on lined up; I’m keeping this one under my hat for the moment.

Then it is back to the Loire Valley, for some more visits in Chinon and nearby environs, and although I haven’t made any appointments yet I expect I will be calling in on Matthieu Baudry and Jérôme Billard, as well as a mix of other domaines, in Chinon, Bourgueil and maybe Savennières too. I also have a trip across to La Promenade, a well-known restaurant in Le Petit-Pressigny, lined up, so I am looking forward to that. And no doubt I will also find some (many?) more jobs to do around the house before this year’s rental season kicks off.

Well, time to go. My first appointment is at Château Haut-Brion. The next three hours in the car will pass quickly, I think. Because of my plans for the next three weeks I won’t be making any behind-paywall updates, but will post on social media and maybe this blog if time permits.

Bordeaux 2017: The Final Lowdown, Part 4

Here is the final instalment of my Primeur Picks report, brought out from behind the paywall. See part one, part two and part three if you have not already read them.

Bordeaux 2017: Primeur Picks

OK, so if 2017 is not as good as 2016 and 2015, it must be a bit like 2014?

Another undeniable human characteristic is the fallibility of our memory. Even if we ignore the devastating frost, and focus solely on the quality and character of the best wines in 2017, there still isn’t a recent vintage that serves as an ideal comparison. The majority of people I spoke to in Bordeaux accept that 2017 isn’t as good as 2015 or 2016, so attention naturally turns to the next good-but-not-great vintage, which is 2014. The problem with 2014 is that it has in my opinion been generally over-rated, being a ‘saved’ vintage light on texture and strong on acidity (except in St Estèphe, where it was much stronger). It belongs with the ‘also ran’ vintages such as 2012, 2008, 2006 and 2004, years that gave us nice wines but which are nothing to write home about. The 2017 vintage is (in parts at least) better than that.

What we have in 2017, even in the best wines, are elegantly medium-bodied wines with ripe tannins and equally ripe flavours. They are not huge, rich or textural wines, which has led several in Bordeaux who could look back beyond 2014 to suggest 2001 as a match, and I can see why. The 2001s are polished wines, elegant but correct, and at release they were unfairly overshadowed by the preceding vintage just as 2017, with its ‘frosted’ reputation, is likely to fade in terms of repute compared to 2016 (this might help to moderate the pricing…..well, fingers crossed). Another vintage that comes to mind is 1985, always elegant, persistent on the palate but with a silky shimmer. I always enjoyed my encounters with wines from the 1985 vintage, so pure and finely drawn, and I could easily see the best wines of 2017 evolving in a similar style. If only they were priced like the 1985s. Speaking of which…..

Pomerol 2017

Buying En Primeur

It seems almost inevitable that, for the majority of wines, prices are going to come down for the 2017 vintage. I wish I could say I was clairvoyant, but at the time of writing a good number of châteaux have already released, in some cases with prices 20% lower than the corresponding release price for the 2016 vintage. So it is not as if I am sticking my neck out in making this statement. Of course, this still means that the wines may be more expensive than previous releases, as in many cases the releases in 2015 and 2016 were significantly more pricy than preceding years. Even with reductions between 10% and 20% in 2017, the release prices may not compare favourably with prices of other vintages on the market such as 2012, 2011 or 2008, all of which are physically available and which are well on their way to being ready for drinking.

While lower release prices are always welcome, the relatively modest reductions we have seen so far will be insufficient to create the necessary interest in the vintage, either from drinkers or investors. While the relative success seen in the 2016 and 2015 en primeur campaigns showed that the interest is still there when there are great wines up for sale (even if it falls far short of the fervour that surrounded 2009 and 2010), the reputation of the 2017 vintage is simply not at the same level. Having said that, there are clearly some very good wines in this vintage, and if some desirable wines were to be released at the ‘right’ price I would expect a flurry of interest from merchants and consumers alike. If we don’t see such a response then it tells us one thing; it is not that consumers are not interested, nor is it evidence that en primeur is dead and defunct. It is simply that the price was not right. In that case, the Bordelais will rely on the négociants and their expansive warehouses to soak up the stock.

Read my full vintage review, including 15 regional tasting note reports as well as a weather and harvest report, in my Bordeaux 2017 report.

Bordeaux 2017: The Final Lowdown, Part 3

Here comes the next part of my Primeur Picks report from behind the paywall. See part one and part two if you have not already read them.

Bordeaux 2017: Primeur Picks

Alright, so is it a left-bank or right-bank vintage?

It is understandable to want to categorise the vintage in this manner, but the successes and indeed the failures on both side of the Gironde simply don’t permit it. While there is undoubtedly a quality hotspot in St Emilion and Pomerol, where the top wines from higher ground in both appellations (especially the latter) are simply excellent, there are also moments of brilliance in St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien. And while there are some lean and leafy wines from the western Médoc, there are also some equally disappointing wines from the St Emilion and Pomerol lowlands. There is no clear distinction between the two banks, not like there was in 1996 or 1998, left- and right-bank vintages respectively.

Bordeaux 2017

It is only natural for regular drinkers of Bordeaux to want to squeeze a new vintage into a pre-existing system such as the old left-bank-right-bank dichotomy. But if I throw confirmation bias out of the window, and take account of all the data points, the only way I can think of 2017 Bordeaux is as a topography-altitude vintage. What mattered in this vintage was the proximity of your vineyards to the Gironde, or their altitude, both factors that protected the vines from the frost. Some very successful wines without either of these protective factors do exist, for example Château Cheval Blanc, Château Figeac and Domaine de Chevalier, three examples of such wines that piqued my interest, but they are few in number, and they are the product of an extreme level of effort. So after local topography and altitude what mattered was how prepared you were for frost (many who weren’t learnt a lesson in 2017, and new anti-frost devices are appearing all over the region, such as at Château Le Gay, above), and how much effort (which means money) you were able to put into managing a mix of first- and second-generation crops during the growing season and harvest.

Concluded in part 4……

Bordeaux 2017: The Final Lowdown, Part 2

Continuning my summing up, here comes the next part of my Primeur Picks report from behind the paywall. See part one here if you have not already read it.

Bordeaux 2017: Primeur Picks

Even focusing on the most successful domaines and appellations, while the wines are very good, the quality in 2017 does not match that seen in 2016 and 2015. This much is reflected in my scores, which hit a peak with the 96-98 range for a small handful of top-flight wines from both the left and right banks, with one exceptional wine at 97-99 points, but with the majority of top-scoring wines coming in at 95-97 or less. This is not a vintage in which we are going to find spine-tingling 100-point wines (and I deliberated long and hard about that 97-99-pointer too, it has to be said). If we are to score wines at that level in this vintage, where on earth would we all go in truly excellent years such as 2016, 2010 or 2005?

Bordeaux 2017

On the other hand, I have also discovered many less convincing wines in this vintage. They come principally from the frost-affected regions, including the St Emilion and Pomerol lowlands, as well as those vineyards on the left bank which were too far from the protective influence of the Gironde. While the warm and dry weather ripened the first-generation fruit admirably, ridding the top wines of any hint of green pyrazine aromas, the same cannot be said of many of the wines which have been built – presumably with no alternative – around second-generation fruit. This fruit was usually picked at the very end of harvest, and it is clear that even picking at this late stage the fruit was still not phenolically ripe. I think if you were to visit Bordeaux on a luxury wine tour, calling in on only the top domaines, you could come away with the impression there is no ‘greenness’ in this vintage. But having spent eight days tasting in the region, looking at wines from all appellations and all levels, I have found any number of wines at the entry-level in St Emilion, as well as basic Pomerol and some well-known names in Graves and Margaux, not to mention in the Médoc and Haut-Médoc appellations, which are herbaceous, leafy and overtly green. Some wines tasted more like off-vintage efforts from an under-performing Loire Valley co-operative than from leading Bordeaux winemakers.

So while this is a very good vintage (in parts), it is not a great vintage, and it is not a ‘buy blind’ vintage. It is a vintage in which purchasing decisions must be fully informed.

Continued in part 3…….

Bordeaux 2017: The Final Lowdown

I finished publishing my Bordeaux 2017 report last week, ending up with my Primeur Picks, summing up some thoughts on the vintage, as well as picking out my top wines, those we like to dream about as well as more resonably priced ‘reality’ and ‘sense’ options.

I thought it would be interesting to bring some of this report out here, onto the free-to-read Winedr blog. So over the next four days I will publish my concluding thoughts about the vintage here, in four short, bite-sized pieces. Here goes…..

Bordeaux 2017: Primeur Picks

After fifteen regional reports on the 2017 Bordeaux vintage, featuring well over 300 tasting notes (the honest truth is I lost count somewhere between Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan) it is time to sum up the vintage.

While my regional reports provide detail, with notes and scores on every wine I tasted during my time in Bordeaux (without exception, whether the wine be great or grim), in this conclusion I aim to provide a more facilitative overview of the vintage, one which perhaps answers some of the more frequently asked questions about any new Bordeaux vintage.

So, is it a bad, good or great vintage?

There is perhaps an argument for saying it is all three rolled into one, but eager to simplify things I would say that 2017 is a very good vintage, at least it is for some parts of Bordeaux, for some domaines and for some appellations. But not for others. OK, maybe that doesn’t simplify it very much, but don’t blame me, blame Jack Frost. The result of the frost that struck in late April has been marked heterogeneity in quality, as it overlooked some domaines, leaving the vines with a healthy crop, the end result a potentially excellent wine, while on other domaines it wiped out any hopes for good quality in this vintage.

Bordeaux 2017

If you home in on those parts of Bordeaux that escaped the frost, or those domaines which were able to reject the fruit from frosted vines and instead produce a reduced volume of wine solely from non-frosted first-generation fruit (in some cases including tiny quantities of carefully selected second-generation fruit), then quality is excellent. The very successful appellations (or part-appellations) in this vintage are St Estèphe, Pauillac, much of St Julien, select parts of St Emilion and also select parts of Pomerol. That the vintage deserves high regard in the latter of these appellations is perhaps best illustrated by the words of Denis Durantou (pictured above), of Château L’Église-Clinet, who described 2017, along with the excellent 2015 and 2016 vintages, as one of “a rare triplet for Bordeaux”. That’s true for his domaine and his neighbours, but not for many others, sadly. Other appellations such as Margaux and Pessac-Léognan suffered more in the frost; this did not stop the preeminent domaines in these regions also producing excellent wine, but it often required an incredible amount of work in the vineyard, and a strict selection at harvest.

Continued in part 2…….

Bordeaux 2017: The Halfway Mark

It is Wednesday morning and I am pleased to say I am now past the halfway mark in my marathon of tasting the barrel samples of the 2017 Bordeaux vintage.

It has been a busy few days. I flew into Bordeaux last week, on Friday. The journey here was, as football pundits might say, “squeaky bum time”. I flew down from Edinburgh to Stansted on a 6:30am flight, followed by a 9:15am flight from Stansted out to Bordeaux. I take the 6:20/6:30am flights from Edinburgh to London airports quite frequently, and they are very rarely delayed. Of course, the one time it really mattered, an air traffic control restriction moved our departure time back by half an hour, wiping out a large chunk of what time I would have on the ground at Stansted.

When we landed I was off the plane like a rocket, leaving the other passengers far behind. This confused the airport’s security staff who saw a lone passenger exiting the gate area and they quickly assumed I was lost. Having reassured them I knew exactly where I was going, I made my way out of the front of the airport, back in through fast-track security, and I made it to the gate with about five minutes to spare. Phew!

Next year, I think I will have to come up with a different travel plan. Back in 2016 an air traffic control strike meant I ending up living in Gatwick airport for two days before being able to get a flight to Bordeaux. I have no desire to repeat the experience.

Bordeaux 2017

The rest of the day was uneventful. I picked up my hire car, drive over to St Emilion, found my accommodation, and so on. I spent the first few days tasting on the right bank, with a few visits to those willing to see me over the weekend, such as Jonathan Maltus, Château La Dominique and Château Pavie-Macquin, several large tastings and a Sauternes extravaganza. By the time Monday morning came I had already tasted hundreds of wines, and the weather had changed from sunny, to cool and cloudy, and it seems to have steadily worsened since then. I spent Monday in Pessac-Léognan and Sauternes, starting the day in a drizzly, foggy rush-hour gridlock (rail strikes in France have made the roads even busier than usual) en route to Château Haut-Brion, finishing the day at Château d’Yquem, when the sun came out momentarily, both above my head and, seemingly, in my glass. On Tuesday I made a marathon journey through the Médoc, with fifteen visits in one day, the most I have ever managed. But I started at 8am at Château Calon-Ségur, and I finished at about 7:30pm, having meandered south as far as Château La Lagune, and there were only a few minutes drive between most appointments, so I had plenty of time not only to taste the wines but to talk about the vintage. By Tuesday evening the weather had degenerated into heavy rain, with thunder and lightning.

The 2017 vintage is a fascinating one to taste, because quality is so variable this year. It isn’t an easy vintage that can be summed up in one word like we might try with a washout year like 2013, or with a great year such as 2005 or 2010. It is a complex vintage, one with highs and lows; there are wines that feel profound, composed, exciting and desirable, while others are simply everything that you don’t want in Bordeaux, with overtly green and vegetal fruit, light and loose textures, and bitter tannins. The vintage has been unkind to some in this region, frost and the response to it being a major driver (but it certainly does not act alone) of style and quality this year. And those that escaped the frost know this only too well. “We were very lucky, very lucky indeed” has been one of the most commonly heard refrains when visiting domaines where the frost did not bite.

During the week I won’t be making behind-paywall updates, but will be posting on Instagram and Twitter so it will be easy to keep track of my progress. My full reports, with weather report, harvest and tasting overview, soundbites and then my region-by-region tasting reports, will kick of on Tuesday 17th April.

Reprimandeur Week Approaches

I just wanted to give a quick head’s up to everybody in the wine trade that next week is the Bordeaux reprimandeur week. It’s that time of year (again!) when half the wine writing world disappears to Bordeaux to see what sort of wines the Bordelais have produced during the previous year’s growing season. The other half, meanwhile, stay at home and reprimand their colleagues for even daring to participate in such profane and immoral tasting activity.

I would like to thank all these reprimandeurs for participating in this year’s event – it just wouldn’t be the same without you! And in a spirit of collegiality I wanted to give you a few tips and hints on how you can stir things up this year. We’re counting on you…..

First, price. Remember to criticise anybody attending the primeurs because the wines are too expensive, because the hyperbole of early ‘scoop’ reporting drives up prices, and because Bordeaux no longer functions as wine and is perhaps better considered a luxury product or collector’s item. Don’t let anybody tell you that the alternative, a vacuum of independent opinion, would be worse than useless. Don’t pay any attention to the notion that sensible critics provide guidance to their readers on prices, value and the wisdom (or idiocy) of buying en primeur. And please overlook the hundreds of good-value wines that get reviewed. Just stick your reprimandeur oar in! And don’t let it put you off going to that DRC tasting you have been invited to (again). That’s obviously completely different.

Primeurs Sign

Second, remember to criticise primeur attendees for daring to taste barrel samples. It doesn’t matter that they are finished blends, and that decent critics provide an honest and clear indication that these wines provide a snapshot of what the future wine will be like. It is irrelevant that after attending years and years of primeur tastings, regular attendees worth their salt can see a clear correlation between their own opinions on barrel samples and the same wines when tasted from bottle for any given vintage. And don’t give any time to the thought that regular Bordeaux buyers and primeur-report readers are intelligent people who know about the fallibility of barrel samples. Stick to your reprimandeur guns! Every good reprimandeur knows barrel samples are the devil’s work, sometimes not even made from grapes. And they are largely undrinkable. Like a lot of natural wine, except there you can’t blame it on the barrels.

Finally, remember to criticise those attending the primeurs for using scores. Just because sensible critics use ranged scores to denote the uncertainty of a barrel sample, don’t let that dissuade you from letting people know how wrong this all is. And just because scores for wine weren’t exactly invented yesterday (have you noticed Robert Parker is now retired?) don’t let that kid you that a seasoned Bordeaux buyer might understand that scores are not an intrinsic element of the wine, swimming around among the tannins and acids. All good reprimandeurs know that scores are objective, exact and written in stone for all time, and are harmful to consumers, who must be protected from them at all costs.

Thanks for reading reprimandeurs, and keep up the good work. Bordeaux and all who sail in her ship, the primeur tasters, and the consumers who dare to buy and drink these wines are all counting on you to do your duty! If you are eager to get going, please start reprimanding now. While the official primeurs tastings begin next week, some immoral and frankly vulgar critics are already in the region, daring to taste the wines a week or two early. Your reprimandeur skills are needed!

Arranging a Primeurs Visit

Two different methods of arranging a visit during the primeurs tasting week in Bordeaux.

Method One:

I send an email requesting an appointment at 10 am on Tuesday morning.
I receive a reply confirming my appointment with a cheery “see you soon!”.

Method Two:

I send an email requesting an appointment at 11 am on Tuesday morning.

I receive an email explaining that the programme for the primeurs hasn’t been settled yet. The time will probably be OK, but I must wait until they begin organising the week’s schedule.

A few weeks later I receive an email confirming an appointment at 11 am, but that I should wait for a subsequent email inviting me to participate in the online appointment registration system, otherwise my appointment won’t be included on the schedule.

A further few weeks later I receive a formal email inviting me to click a link to participate in the online appointments system. I follow the link, where I have to fill in an online form, name, address, email, telephone, publications, gender, sexual preferences, etc. (I may have made some of these up). I make it through to a “form submitted” page which informs me that a confirmation email has been sent.

Shortly afterwards I receive a confirmation email, again agreeing the date and time of my appointment, the same date and time as was agreed in the email from the château over a month beforehand. The email informs me I will now receive an official invitation, which I should look out for. Which of course I do.

Several weeks later I receive an official invitation again by email. This document needs to be printed out to be presented at the château. Without presenting the scannable code on the invitation, again I am warned I will not be received.

The various châteaux of Bordeaux are of course entitled to organise themselves and their primeurs week as they see fit. My only points are as follows. Firstly, I much prefer the first system, for its simplicity. Secondly, the primeurs week now features thirty or forty châteaux appointments alongside the larger tastings, and if I had to jump through all these hoops for all of these appointments it seems inevitable that things would go wrong. I employ an assistant to do administrative work on Winedoctor, but they only do a few hours each week, and together we are grateful that most châteaux follow the first system and not the second!

The Results Are In

The Vinovision results are in, released with a surprising lack of fanfare considering this salon has enjoyed a significant increase in visitor numbers in 2018.

From a starting point of 3,300 visitors for the first ever edition in 2017, the 2018 edition saw visitor numbers hit 5,000 (some reports I have seen claim 5,500). Even taking the lower of these two figures, that is a 52% increase on the 3,300 who attended in 2017, a remarkable success and surprising as having visited both the 2017 and 2018 editions I wouldn’t have said the 2018 edition was 50% busier (although the Sunday in 2017 was, I suppose, extraordinarily quiet). But the figures don’t lie, and I can only assume the organisers are delighted with this dramatic increase in support. The visitors included 20% from foreign markets (up from 17% in 2017), essential for those looking to improve international sales, with the United Kingdom, Belgium and the USA in the lead.

Loire Salons 2018

By contrast, attendance at the Salon de Vins de Loire declined in 2018, as I have already described in my earlier post. There the figures declined from about 8,500 to 7,500; both figures are obviously approximate, so acknowledging that, the figures here add up to an 11% decline in attendance, although absolute numbers are still well ahead of Vinovision. Indeed, I spoke to a few exhibitors at Vinovision who felt they had done more useful business at the Salon de Vins de Loire, which I suspect reflects the fact the Salon de Vins de Loire was a more active fair, with higher attendance figures over just two days.

I hope the Salon de Vins de Loire continues as it remains a fabulous showcase for what the region has to offer, but I wish the organisers of Vinovision well for the 2019 edition, in association with Vinisud.

Vinovision 2018 Review

I have just returned home after three days of tasting in Vinovision, the second edition of this cool climate wine salon held in the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre, in Paris. It has been an interesting event, and I suspect how successful it was depends on your point of view.

From the point of view of a visiting journalist with a strong interest in the Loire Valley and its wines, I have found the last three days remarkably useful. The Salon de Vins de Loire is never long enough to get around and taste with all the vignerons you would like to see, even when it was three days long. This year (and next year too) it has been pruned to just two days, so having three more days to taste at Vinovision is a real bonus. Secondly, there are some vignerons who exhibit at Vinovision who have never been to the Salon des Vins de Loire, so it is a great opportunity to meet and taste with these people.

The organisation of Vinovision is pretty standard for a salon, in other words the associated website is clunky, I found it impossible to register online and had to email for help, I continued to receive emails reminding me to register when I (eventually) already had, and the website listed some domaines as exhibitors who were in fact never coming (and the names were only removed from the website after the start of the salon). I was also confounded by a couple of vignerons I expected to be there (because they were last year) but who didn’t sign up this year, so I missed tasting with them. That last mistake is clearly my own fault though, and I will just have to chalk it up to experience.

Vinovision 2018

Putting that to one side, I still managed very easily to fill three days of tasting. Well, two and three-quarters, anyway; as usual my tasting progress started to slow midway through the afternoon of day three, as many exhibitors started packing up, and one or two stands were left permanently unmanned, which meant some exhibitors I had hoped to taste with missed out (or maybe they were avoiding me). During my final tasting of day three the vigneron put on his coat halfway though, which I did take as a message. But I tasted a lot, catching up with some significant Loire Valley names such as Henri Bourgeois and Couly-Dutheil, some old favourites such as Domaine du Haut Bourg and Château Gaudrelle, some domaines that have long been on the very periphery of my Loire radar, such as Tinel-Blondelet and Domaines Vinet, and also a handful of domaines I have never tasted with before, such as Jean Tatin in Quincy (although I know his wines quite well), and Domaine de Noiré in Chinon.

So from my point of view, I had three successful days at Vinovision. But let’s not forget this is a trade fair, and the reason the vignerons are there is to meet clients and sell wine. So how much of a success was it from the point of view of a (possibly frosted-out and cash-strapped) Loire Valley vigneron?

Rather like the Salon des Vins de Loire, where most exhibitors reported being busy on day one, but quiet on day two, activity at Vinovision also faded away during the course of the salon. Every vigneron I spoke to had been happy with the number of visitors on the first day, but days two and three were reported as being too quiet. The Salon des Vins de Loire cost €1200 for two days this year, a reduction from the fee in 2017 which was, for the same vigneron, “about €3000” (although it all depends on the size of the stand taken, of course). Vinovision, meanwhile, in 2018 was the same price as last year, also €3000 (again depending on the size of the stand, this is the price for a micro-booth), although as it is an international trade fair exhibitors quality for financial support. All the same, this is an expensive activity. “It’s a lot of money for not many sales”, said one vigneron.

Next year Vinovision will again be three days, and it will have a friend, as Vinisud is moving to Paris on the same dates, the two salons presumably in adjacent halls of the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre (I have no idea how big Vinisud is, by the way). Read the press release on the Vinisud website for more details (in French). Some hope this will enhance visitor numbers, while others are keen to support Vinovision regardless. “We wanted this salon, you can’t expect great success at the start, it is getting better, going up, up, up”, one vigneron told me. “Now that we have it, we just need to build on it”. Some may, however, vote with their feet, marching in the opposite direction. “I don’t know if I will come back next year”, said one of his neighbours.

Presumably we will get some idea of visitor numbers to Vinovision in the next day or two. Last year the organisers claimed 3,300 visitors over three days. Visitors to the Salon des Vins de Loire trended downwards from 2017 to 2018, so it will be interesting to see in which direction visitor numbers to Vinovision is heading.