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Loire Salon 2012: Anticlimax

The final day of the Salon is always something of an anticlimax; I usually have to leave early, often around midday, in order to make my travel connections – train then plane – on time. I begin tasting with gusto, but the few hours I have fly by, and my departure time always arrives much earlier than expected. Yesterday morning was no exception; I had hardly started tasting with the delightful Coralie Delecheneau of La Grange Tiphaine when I suddenly realised it was time to go. Happily, I managed to taste most of her whites, which include some lovely bright and breezy examples of Montlouis, and also a delicious Pét-Nat fizz, before I had to dash.

Ironically, I took the 1pm shuttle bus rather than the 2pm shuttle bus. Theoretically, the second bus would have been good for me, but the bus service has been so erratic (not running at all on Monday morning, and returning to Angers from the Salon on Tuesday evening for a dinner appointment again the bus did not turn up) that I wasn’t prepared to take a chance with the later bus. As it was I left the Salon an hour earlier than I needed to, an hour of time I could have spent interacting with exhibitors (who all pay a lot of money to set up a stand at the Salon) such as Coralie Delecheneau of La Grange Tiphaine, wasted because I don’t trust the unfortunately haphazard bus service provided by Parc Expo (amended – see Charles Sydney’s comments below).

One other feature of the 2012 Salon des Vins de Loire that is worthy of comment is visitor numbers; I’ve only been attending this annual event for a few years now, but this seems to me to have been by far the quietest Salon I have been to. Pushing it back a week has discouraged attendees, upsetting schedules, distancing it from the off events, pushing it closer to other important wine fairs, namely ViniSud (February 20th-22nd). If InterLoire thought the Salon would win out against all these competing demands that was arrogant; it’s quite clear that some see La Dive Bouteille and Nicolas Joly’s Renaissance tastings as the main events, and the Salon as the “off-event”. It’s also clear that InterLoire need to demonstrate a dynamic response to recent events; you can’t just let someone as influential and innovative as François Chidaine resign in despair then carry on as if everything was OK. And you can’t carry on putting on a half-cocked show like the Salon des Vins de Loire and expect people to keep visiting, regardless.

Salon des Vins de Loire 2012

Oh, and while I remember, as visitors numbers are sure to be down (hence deserted aisles as above, Wednesday morning), when that news is released please don’t blame it on difficulties travelling due to the cold weather; my flight from Edinburgh and train from Paris both departed on time, and arrived on time. In Angers, the buses and taxis were running as normal, even on Monday morning. The only part of the transport service that failed was the shuttle bus to the Salon itself. The reduction in visitor numbers this year is down to questionable decisions about timing of the Salon; thus the responsibility lies at the feet of InterLoire.

As for the wine, well I have already mentioned La Grange Tiphaine, and the other star of Wednesday morning was Bruno Cormerais. Bruno might well have all the gravitas of the late Sir Harry Secombe (I’m thinking of his Goon Show years rather than when he led us all in Sunday evening worship on Songs of Praise), but this man’s wines are some of the most exciting and innovative in Muscadet. I have been meaning to taste them for some time, but having encountered his 2004 Bruno 7 Ans cuvée (aged sur lie for seven years) on Tuesday evening, brought to a dinner I attended by David Cobbold of More than just Wine (and tasting blind no-one, including some experienced Loire tasters, spotted it as a Muscadet), I was spurred into action. I tasted through the range with his son, Maxime, and found some very high quality especially in the less warm years such as 2008 and 2010, although once we progressed on to the Granite de Clisson (and now just Clisson) cuvées, and the special Maxime and Bruno bottlings, they were petty good all round. I’m looking forward to writing these up.

4 Responses to “Loire Salon 2012: Anticlimax”

  1. Hi Chris

    Nice to see you and Jim at the fair – we were beginning to think that the Loire had disappeared from the UK journo’s ‘to do’ list!

    There are loads of sensible comments in your article and things to discuss this end, but it may be worth noting that the organisation (dates and buses) would seem to be down to the salon’s actual ‘owners’ – Angers Parc Expo – and not to Interloire.

    We have been discussing and will continue to discuss timings (like how about alternating Angers one year with a major Loire presence at Prowein alternate years) with producers and Interloire. I can only hope they’ll listen and that the region’s real bosses (the various appellations’ syndicats) will realise that none of them are big and ugly enough to survive for long on their own.

    It’s obvious that changing the timing for an annual event is going to blow buyers’ and journalists’ calendars, also that attendance at the show was down – but I can assure you that there plenty of very serious UK buyers present, making the most of some fab wines. Another ‘only hope’ is that they’ll be buying them!

  2. Thanks Charles, you are quick off the mark today! I have amended my reference to InterLoire’s responsibility for the bus service.

    I think the Loire *has* dropped off the UK journalists “to do” list. Just because Jim (who must be on his 25th Salon – thereabouts anyway) and me (4th time) attend doesn’t mean the UK knows what is going on in the Loire. The only other notable names were Natasha Hughes (who has a Loire writing contract to research – shan’t say any more about that other than it is one of those annual guides fronted by a well-known wine personality but essentially ghost-written) and Ray O’Connor who was there largely with his IWC hat on I think.

    I hope your suggested plan doesn’t come through; the solution is to build and improve through difficult times, not cut back. There are so many easy-to-fix issues (not all of them, but a large number) which go undealt with that it is infuriating.

  3. Definitely agree with the “build through tough times” philosophy.

  4. Frustrating is right, Chris. Maybe even more so for me – I have to cope 365 days a year …

    Give me a short list of ‘easy-to-fix’ issues and I’ll push where I can.