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ripening grapes in the Loire

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Wind, Water and Wine; Beziers, Bordeaux and Bristol

Sailing Ship Belem

The port cities of Bordeaux and Bristol both played a distinguished role in the history of the wine trade, such that even in the 13th century more than 85 per cent of all imported wine came from South West France and as much as 3,000 tons (750,000 gallons) was being landed in Bristol.
The trade with Bordeaux fluctuated, dependent on our relationship with France (war, peace, occupation) but key names in the UK wine trade were established in Bristol, such as Harveys and Averys. Both Bristol and Bordeaux have the advantaghe that navigable rivers reach right into the heart of the city. In Bordeaux the “Quai des Chartrons” on the Garonne river front. In 2007 the cities of Bristol and Bordeaux celebrated the 60th Anniversary of their twinning.

Sadly little there remains little of that trade physically – no cargo ships leave the Chartrons quayside, and in Bristol only Averys of the long-established merchants remains in the city centre.
However, all that could change with a shipping company (CTMV – Compagnie de Transport Maritime a Voile) starting to use sailing ships to transport wine from Bordeaux, initially to Ireland, but later to Bristol. Initial consignments are of Languedoc wines, which are initially transported by barge on the Canal du Midi to Bordeaux and then loaded onto the sailing ship Belem for the 4-5 day crossing to Ireland. This trip with a load of 60,000 bottles will save over 18,000 lbs of carbon emissions – so a veritable eco-friendly wine.

UPDATE

The Telegraph (25 July 2008) has a report on the same company bringing a “Green Energy” wine to Ireland:-

The first commercial cargo of wine shipped from France by sail since the late 1800s arrived in Ireland on Friday aboard a British schooner, with almost zero petrol costs and carbon emissions.
Some 30,000 bottles of “green energy” wine, arrived in Dublin aboard the 108-year old Kathleen and May – the last wooden hull three-masted topsail schooner in existence – after leaving Brest a week ago with a stop at Penzance.

Each bottle carried has saved 4.9 oz of carbon dioxide emissions compared with a regular shipment. The wines come with the label: “Carried by sailing ship, a better deal for the planet.”

Furthermore the return trip is planned to be with an equivalent cargo of crushed glass for re-making into wine bottles back in France – sounds clever to me!

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