Although there is no confirmation from the Montlouis syndicat yet, my suspicions are sufficiently raised to post on this latest piece of trouble for InterLoire. I understand that, following the lead of the Bourgueil syndicat which ditched the regional body and went it alone in 2011, the growers’ syndicat in Montlouis are about to do the same.
For those not entirely familiar with the way InterLoire works, it is a regional body which promotes the wines of the Loire, by a variety of means. It’s most significant act is surely the annual Salon des Vins de Loire, held in a gigantic exhibition centre just outside Angers every February. InterLoire’s funding comes from its members, and so naturally they expect something in return for their money. The problem is that some feel they get very little for their (costly) annual subscription, and some want out.
This latest rumour comes from a variety of sources, including one who confirmed that a meeting of the syndicat had been held this week, on Wednesday. Not being a member themselves they were unable to tell me what the conclusion of the meeting had been, but it seems that a divorce from InterLoire was on the agenda.
The Montlouis syndicat’s current president is none other that François Chidaine (pictured right – and no, I can’t wait to hit the Salon with my Canon 5D next year and take a better photograph), who will be familiar to any fan of the wines of the Loire. Until January this year he sat on the InterLoire executive committee, but he resigned following irreconcilable differences with the body. He disclosed that the InterLoire budget was €8.5m, money which he said was “misused“, with a focus on Touraine primeur which cost €900 000 a particular bugbear. The organisation of the annual Salon des Vins de Loire also came in for criticism, which doesn’t surprise me. The decision to shift the dates of the 2012 Salon by one week, thus distancing it from the ‘off’ events such as Renaissance des Appellations, might have pleased the more petty-minded bean-counters but looking at the bigger picture it did nothing for the promotion of the wines of its members or those who travel to the Loire to ‘do the promoting’ (by which I mean tasting and reporting). Overall, said Chidaine, the organisation is “a big bureaucratic machine and doesn’t deliver value for money“.
Little surprise then that, less than one year later, rumours have surfaced about Montlouis’ impending departure. I contacted Lise Jousset in Montlouis (well actually, I contacted a number of vignerons, but Lise actually responded!) with a simple question; is Montlouis about to leave InterLoire? Her reply was short – the sort you give when you know you shouldn’t say too much – and yet hugely informative. “For information on this subject“, she wrote, “you must contact our president François Chidaine“. Which of course I already had, without any response, but slowly the wheels and cogs turned, and eventually – perhaps having been prodded somewhere – the reply came from François; “The syndicat will make no comment on this matter at this time“. Neither response, tellingly, was “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about“, and François Chidaine’s answer clearly indicates there will be news to come concerning Montlouis and InterLoire.
As I see it, it’s only a matter of time. The decree nisi is in the post.