01438 741177         thewinesociety.com

The Society's Community

Awful story about Alsace

From today’s NY Times.

Selling wine for alcohol:

Heartbreak and Hand Sanitizer in Wine Country

3 Likes

A truly awful story considering the huge manual effort and emotional investment in what you do for a living. When vines have been grown on your land for centuries, it must be very dispiriting.

Edit: Thinking about it, why can’t we keep decent Alsace wine and distill utter plonk instead? Yellow tail and worse springs to mind…:wink:

3 Likes

That’s it, I’ve had enough I’M TELLING MY MOTHER.

12 Likes

that word grabbed my attention… but this is no thread for puns :frowning:

2 Likes

To answer your question (which I sense may have actually been rhetorical)…

The reason is that the French want to keep their wine prices bouyant. So rather than flood the market, which would cause prices to fall, they chose to distill “excess” wine. Even before Covid, they did that, but then the resulting industrial alcohol would be used for other purposes. (Edit: I see now that is pretty much said in the article. It is basically the French government propping up its wine industry, by paying producers a better price to distill the wine than they would get by selling it to be drunk.)

For large-scale makers of plonk, the whole point is to produce the wine as cheaply as possible. Then they try to knock out their competitors by undercutting their prices. Alternatively, they stick a brand like Yellow Tail on the bottle, and mark it up to make the brand look more desirable, pay for any extra marketing, and make a bit more profit.

2 Likes

Italian wineries have been guilty of growing grapes at a rate of 200hl per hectare. The “wine” was never intended for consumption - only to utilise EC rules for distillation and make a shedful of cash!! :open_mouth: :dragon:

2 Likes

Incidentally, the article says that Crisis Distillation has not been used in Alsace before, but I know that Hugel used to send “odds and ends” for distillation under a government scheme. The contents of the spittoon in the tasting room went in that direction I was told, and I presume the same applied to left-overs from the wine production.

1 Like

Don’t get me wrong this is, of course, heartbreaking but is it really all that different to any other year when they have a terrible harvest or get wiped out by hail etc? There are plenty of stories of producers having years with no or very little wine to show for it due to a variety of issues. And if they have produced no wine they get no money, at least they are getting a little this time.

It’s sad and it’s tough but I was under the impression that wine producers expect occasional disaster years. Just not usually caused by a pandemic.

1 Like

I suppose all types of producer have some disasters which they expect (bad harvests for wine producers, strikes or fires for factories…), but when a disaster is completely new and beyond normal experience, it seems worse (and probably IS worse because it adds to all the normal risks). Surveying manufacturers for other reasons, I have found that there is more upset and resentment for new problems.

3 Likes

I think that this is also different in that a bad year normally means that you don’t get to make wine. This is is having to throw away something into which you’ve invested hope, time, energy and money, and that seems much worse.

3 Likes