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09.19.2005

Why France Is In Trouble

Well, there are lots of reasons that the French wine industry is headed for (already met with?) disaster, but recent news has highlighted a few brutal new realities. Just a couple of days ago, the French National Interprofessional Wine Office released a study showing that in the last 5 years France has lost 1,000,000 wine drinkers to beer and other spirits, and that per capita, wine consumption has dropped a full 50% in the last forty years. These are truly dire numbers, that combined with over-production, militant-terrorist winemakers, and waning global demand for the higher priced wines make me want to short sell the whole country (if that were possible).

Then if you want even more imminent visions of a pending wine apocalypse, you might listen to Bernard Magrez, the bazillionaire owner of thirty-some odd wine properties around the world who is convinced that the winemakers of the new world are going to put the final nail in the coffin of the old guard of France when they figure out that global tastes of aging populations are going to swing towards less fruity, more refined wines. It's only a matter of time, he says, and when the new world winemakers get on that train, everyone will be doing their shopping in California, and the older chateaux of France will finally die out. Dire predictions, to be sure, but it's not a scenario that is entirely farfetched.

Why don't we all go out and buy a bottle of our favorite French wine and savor it for whatever the future holds.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud