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Loire Valley Wines – Up or Down?

lacheteau wines from the Loire Valley

Just days after having written in glowing terms about the improving quality of Loire Valley wines the Independent publishes an article which makes my heart sink – instead of focussing on quality some of the producers are resorting to cheap gimmickery – “Loire wines rebranded as fashion item to appeal to women drinkers “. One of the producers cited is Lacheteau, a Loire valley negociant responsible for the bottles in the picture above. (A negociant sometimes markets the wines of individual chateau, or sometimes blends and brands wines under their own label.) Here marketing speak (especially when translated from French) comes to the fore – “B4 going out at Julie’s place, a trendy aperitif : a white wine. She knows what you MUST wear, and what you MUST drink. She chooses clear and differentiated messages.” – that’s for the white wine “Vague de Blanc – thirst-quenching wine” – although no other details such as classification, grapes or even TASTE etc are to be found. For the Pink (“Soupcon de Fruit” – a hint of fruit? “Perfume from the Loire”) we are offered “At Ingrid and Raphaël’s place, one has a sense of French-style refinement. When the fine weather arrives, she lunches outdoors with her best friends…” for what I assume to be a Cabernet Franc rose!

So, I’m obviously a “grumpy old former wine merchant” – but I do worry that this sort of “branding” and what I assume to be somewhat bland inoffensive wines from large negociants will overwhelm the efforts of inspired winemakers who are re-building the quality image of Loire wines with flavour, distinctiveness and passion. Look what happened to Beaujolais when Beaujolais Nouveau completely ruined the perception of Beaujolais as a good wine – or German wine’s reputation following the onslaught of Liebfraumilch.

Sure the gimmicks will sell some more bottles in the short term, but only at cheap prices, and those customers will find little incentive or information to try other Loire Valley wines – they are likely to be fickle and buy the next sexy bottle shape with meaningless silken words that comes along. See the article in the Independent here

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