News this morning confirms that Nicolas Joly has decided to withdraw the famous Coulée de Serrant vineyard (which has its own appellation), from the official Loire marketing body Interloire. He is not the first to take this decision, the Bourgueil growers took the same decision a few years ago and Montlouis-sur-Loire followed suit a year later.
Each year, growers within each appellation that uses Interloire’s services pay a fee which is then used by Interloire to promote and support the wines throughout the year. This includes the provision of printed material such as maps, leaflets and postcards, brochures and other promotional material as well as holding a range of events, tastings and support services. It’s a big organisation and of course there will always be politics surrounding it. Criticism has been aimed at Interloire for not promoting the likes of the small grower at the expense of the big boys in the Loire . So what does it mean if an appellation makes a break?
Well, put simply it means that the appellation has to take charge of its own marketing. One of the main issues for Nicolas Joly is that money from the ‘natural’ and organic growers (of which there are an increasing number, particularly in and around Anjou) is used to promote wines that have an altogether different approach (using commercial yeasts etc). The two approaches do not sit comfortably side by side and one can understand the difficulty in trying to keep everyone happy on this front.
Current stats say that around 8.5% of total French viticulture is currently registered organic (compare that with a figure of 2.6% at the end of 2007) and the market for organic wines in France has increased from 189 million euros in 2005 to 410 million euros today. It represents a small, but growing percentage of French production that is becoming increasingly aware of the environment and the need to return to more natural practices while retaining the knowledge and advances gained over time. Many more producers, although not certified, are working along organic lines and plenty are currently in the process of conversion.
Some regions have never been part of a marketing body such as the wines of the Orléanais, Vendomois, Haut Poitou or the Auvergne.
Appellations such as Bourgueil have been dynamic in their marketing since leaving Interloire organising a whole range of events and activities during the year that draw the spotlight towards them. A complication for people in the trade is that they have to deal with a number of different marketing bodies in order to get a grip on the region as a whole. A journalist writing an article for example that includes up to date statistics would have to approach not only Interloire but also the relevant bodies in Bourgueil, Montlouis etc etc. to get the information required.
So, not an easy one to handle.
For more information read the full article (in French) here.