12-03-2017

Southern French wine fair slap fight

With the general corruption in Spanish politics, the short-sighted xenophobia in British politics, and then the… whatever you want to call gaping void into the nether world that’s opened in American politics, I have little bandwidth to follow what’s happening in France currently. Because of this, I must rely on my general stereotypes of the French to imagine how a debate between the five main candidates for the upcoming presidential elections would play out.

One or two questions would pass and then the moderator would quickly throw up his hands in frustration as the candidates fell to their own devices. François Fillon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon would get into a wrestling match with each other to prove who was the most virile. Benoît Hamon and Emmanuel Macron would both stand there nonplussed and smoking watching François and Jean-Luc, while occasionally telling each other that the other’s wife was better in bed. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen would be goosestepping around the stage and shouting about how, Muslim terrorists are a problem because of the EU and not France’s failed colonial empire, while sipping cloudy Chardonnay from Ardèche through a straw.

Essentially, my imagining this shit show is due to a an email I received a few days ago from the organizers of Vinisud stating that there is a “refusal by Sudvinbio [Millésime Bio] to agree on dates for Millésime Bio”. This is going to mean nothing to most people so let me back up a bit.

Vinisud is a southern French wine fair in Montpellier that, until 2017 was happening every two years towards the end of February. I went in 2014 and again in 2016 and quite enjoyed it as, while massive with some 1,500 wineries there, it’s really the best place to taste everything from the top of Rhône down to the Mediterranean as well as a growing number of wineries from around the Med.

Millésime Bio is a yearly southern French wine fair that had been in Marseille but has otherwise has taken place yearly at the end of January. It focuses on being an international fair for organically-produced wines. I’ve never been but I know a lot of people who go every year and talk well of it.

To coin a phrase, “la merde a frappé le ventilateur” this year because Vinisud changed from being an event every two years to one that’s every year and then Millésime Bio is moving back to Montpellier where it had started. Vinisud also changed the dates of their fair from the end of February to the end of January, essentially the same time as Millésime Bio. This, didn’t go down well and people said that the days of the biggest overlap saw fewer visitors to Vinisud.

So now, the organizers of Vinisud have sent out this email to everyone on their list that they’ve been trying to create synergy between the two fairs since 2014. This might very well be true but the problem is that at least since 2012 (and probably further back), Millésime Bio has had their event at the end of January so as far as I can tell, this is just Vinisud having a shit fit about these Millésime Bio folks not bending to their will nor being consulted about their move back to Montpellier. It’s almost like they intentionally scheduled their event to now be at the same time in order to bully Millésime Bio into joining up with them, but if that’s the case, it seemed to backfire as the fairs have very different focuses despite the fact both will be happening in Montpellier in the dead of winter.

I have to say that it was a bit ridiculous to get this email as I assume that Vinisud believes by putting out their story that Millésime Bio are being the turds, everyone will buy it. I have to admit that I somewhat did for a second until I scratched my head as to why I was getting such a crappy, out-of-place email and started looking into this more. Of course, as it turns out, both are being shits and in a time when every year more winemakers question the use and expense of going to these massive trade fairs.

Will they come to some sort of an agreement? In a moment where a flaming racist like Marie Le Pen (who sadly looks less bad than previously now that von Clownstick is installed in the US) could be the next president of France, I want to say anything is possible, but then again, this is the world of wine and petty slap fights tend to rule the discourse. It seems we will continue with two large wine fairs where, it was impossible to visit everything at each previously, that will be happening at the same time, in the same city. Yippee.