Sure, go ahead

Bordeaux winemakers on Tuesday called for emergency government aid as plunging demand from China has left many facing closure.

In the biggest demonstration in the region for almost 20 years, vintners and local officials marched through the centre of the world’s wine capital brandishing banners with slogans including “1,000 fewer growers equals 10,000 more unemployed”.

Organisers are demanding that the state authorises them to pull up 37,000 acres of vineyards out of a total of 110,000 in France’s biggest wine appellation.

Why not? Knock yourselves out.

They want authorities to reimburse them €10,000 per hectare of vines removed.

Ah, no, bugger off.

38 thoughts on “Sure, go ahead”

  1. I saw a couple of docus on this a few years ago. The Chinese were going mad for Bordeaux wine and were buying up vineyards and renaming them eg Lapin Rouge, both rabbts and red being lucky in China. Chinese bosses employed French vintners and sent people to be trained at the local colleges.

    The fear of the locals was that the Chinese might get their fingers burned financially ( there is a huge wine glut ) or that it was just a fad and they’d eventually lose interest.

  2. You’ve misunderstood the cause of their crisis. After all the French and German misbehaviour over Brexit we are boycotting all French and German wines. We now, for example, get our bubbly from England and our Riesling from Oz and NZ.

    I invite everyone to join the cause. We do exempt a few EU wines: we don’t know of good replacements for Sherry or Madeira for instance. But all the table reds and whites that we can afford are easily replaced from Chile, Argie, RSA, Oz, NZ, England …

    We have even enjoyed delicious Canadian Eiswein. We hope to try a Welsh wine soon.

  3. Martin Near The M25

    Sounds like something by Douglas Adams:

    So in order to obviate this problem,” he continued, “and effectively revalue the grape, we are about to embark on a massive demolition campaign, and…er, burn down all the vineyards. I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible move under the circumstances.

  4. “We’ve been calling for France to leave the European market and favour re-industrialisation for months”
    Only a Frenchman could utter this sentence with a straight face talking about subsidising agriculture and which apparently only employs 10 people per concern.

  5. My suggestion would be to reduce their prices & be more competitive. But I wouldn’t know how to translate that into french.

  6. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    What are expensive western cigars?

    Expensive cigars come almost exclusively from the Caribbean and central America.

  7. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    The Chinese are probably busy synthesizing WEF-approved wine substitute based on mass spec analysis of their Lapins Rouge. Good enough for the plebs!

  8. BiFR – Western, i.e. imported from the Western hemisphere. The Nips were feeling rich circa 1988 and trying out a lot of imported luxury goods they couldn’t really afford and that were a bit of a fad (in the Orient) anyway.

    China is different and wine is different, but it’s not that different: looks like a lot of Frogs were betting on Chinese interest in their products growing forever. Which is like being alive in 1986 and assuming demand for deely boppers and fish-out-of-water Australian comedies would only increase over time. Why they assumed this of mysterious China, which is only ever one inscrutable pronouncement from the CCP away from doing something mad, idk.

  9. Interesting. Maybe with Albo kissing Xi’s arse, the Chinkies are buying more Aussie wine again. At least until they drive French prices down.

  10. See also: Western universities.

    What’s the plan for when the Chinese reckon they’ve extracted as much advantage as they possibly can from Scumbag University (formerly Scumbag Polytechnic)? There’s no particular reason to assume the Chinese will keep sending their kids overseas in large numbers.

    HE is betting its future – not on knowledge production or teaching excellence – but on being able to keep reselling British visas (at a substantial markup), forever.

  11. I’ve been worried about HE reliance on Chinese students for ages. With the census data out, there three Output Areas in Sheffield than are 75%+ Chinese nationals – and knowing the area they are student blocks full of mainlanders.

  12. Jgh – Kinda feels like China’s relationship with Western HE is very transitory and transactional. The Chinese have good universities of their own now, and they’ll be hoping to turn them into the new Oxbridge / Ivy League.

    There’s also the little problem that Western Education has been getting out of the education business, and into the wokeshit business, for the last 3 decades. Not a huge amount of point in expensively sending your cleverest engineering students to extract knowledge from an institution that’s more interested in demonstrating the inherent racism of Maths.

    The Chinese will have atomic fusion plants and flying cars while we’re shivering in eco-yurts, eating insects and debating how many genders can fit on the head of a pin.

  13. The Chinese will have atomic fusion plants and flying cars while we’re shivering in eco-yurts, eating insects and debating how many genders can fit on the head of a pin.

    Only in the fevered imaginations of those who have (intellectually) fatal Hitchensitis….

    The main threat to Chinese interest in overseas higher education is CCP suspicion of those who have been educated abroad, not the quality of Chinese universities. For example, I have heard a few Mainlanders say they wouldn’t bother applying to an SOE for a job as they’re regarded as having spent too long overseas. Of course, there are still plenty of rich Chinese who want their kids to escape China, and the children of CCP officials sent to nick the ideas of the enemy and shop their fellow students.

    Chinese universities don’t need to worry about woke, they already have the malignant ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” ruining their academic output. Commissars checking the books for correct ideology doesn’t promote much innovation.

    BTW, Japan is still the second largest importer of cigars after the USA.

  14. Bloke near Worcester

    BiFR; ‘The Chinese are probably busy synthesizing WEF-approved wine substitute’….

    Highly likely, they have mastered the art of manufacturing a substance which they market as ‘Honey’, which passes virtually all the tests, but bees had very little involvement in

  15. How many of those cheap (and not-so-cheap) non-European (and some European) wines are actually fully synthetic already? Those generic-named ones that don’t come from anywhere really identifiable?

    You know, like all the big branded ciders, which are just industrial ethanol plus a few flavourings and things – never been near an apple in their lives.

  16. “What are expensive western cigars?

    Expensive cigars come almost exclusively from the Caribbean and central America”

    It’s hard to get more western that that without ending up east again.

  17. MC – Only in the fevered imaginations of those who have (intellectually) fatal Hitchensitis….

    Can I expect drunken bacchanalials, or do you mean the permanently miserable Hitch?

    Chinese universities don’t need to worry about woke, they already have the malignant ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” ruining their academic output. Commissars checking the books for correct ideology doesn’t promote much innovation.

    Very optimistic of you to think we’ll lose a race to the bottom. AFAIK, the Chinee don’t really have a plan to undermine their own human capital and permanently lower domestic living standards. But we do, and every major political party, the FTSE 100, and every institution including the monarchy fully supports it.

    Grim, eh?

    BTW, Japan is still the second largest importer of cigars after the USA.

    But they’re no longer popular salaryman treats, since the purchasing power of salarymen sharply contracted in the late 80’s and never recovered. Or so I’m led to believe, anyway. Not sure if schoolgirl panty vending machines benefited from import substitution.

    Anyway, there’s a great Chinese meme about the “Mandate of Heaven”, which is concerned with the legitimacy of authority. Foolish round eyes were a world-bestriding Colossus 100 years ago, but have since given up the Mandate of Heaven and go around manifesting the hot place instead. My money’s on the people who are no longer ruled by foreigners and eunuchs.

  18. the Chinee don’t really have a plan to undermine their own human capital and permanently lower domestic living standards

    China is currently in the process of doing exactly that via zero covid and the various economic imbecilities which are required to maintain Chairman Pooh in power. For example, zero covid has shafted the already poor birth rate meaning China’s demographics are awful and, unlike Japan, they don’t have the money to cope. For all the (undoubted) success and the shiny shiny, there’s 600m Chinese who only earn RMB1,000 a month.

    And it is hard to take over the world when you need to spend most of your time keeping the population in check.

    there’s a great Chinese meme about the “Mandate of Heaven” The CCP likes to spread this sort of nonsense, along with claims that zero covid was the way forward and only 5,000 Chinese died from the wuflu. For a lot who claim their ideology is based on science, the CCP does come out with a lot of blather about ‘sacred and manifest destiny’. It’s all BS to keep the population hating foreigners and distracted from the boot on their throat.

  19. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Pendant point taken, but seriously, Cuba, DomRep, Nicaragua, Panama, we’re talking really pretty peripherally fucking western here. Frankly this is Deep Global South.

  20. @dearieme…

    I imagine SE Asians still purchase significant amounts of top drawer French vino for investment purposes. It sits in temp controlled bonded warehouses and alas will never be consumed. What has probably gone is the gratuitous entertaining and corporate giveaways. The Frogs will never devalue their wine and would rather rip up vines than sell at a discount. As with all Europeans, however, they expect taxpayers (who can’t afford to buy and drink Grand Cru) to foot the bill. I would like to support your cause and find myself buying more from the USA and an occasional case of vino from the so-called new world. Unfortunately decent Bordeaux and white Burgundy is irreplaceable, ditto the wines of Piedmont.

  21. @Bernie

    “Unfortunately decent … white Burgundy is irreplaceable”: maybe at some price point. For our budget I know a quite wonderful Kiwi Chardonnay (but it’s a secret).

    I used to know a wonderful Kiwi Riesling too but the buggers stopped exporting it to the UK. So our long drive to their vineyard did not give us the long term returns we’d hoped for.

  22. MC – For example, zero covid has shafted the already poor birth rate meaning China’s demographics are awful and, unlike Japan, they don’t have the money to cope.

    Yes, it’s wacky, crazy bullshit, but the Chinese aren’t acting like sex-shy pandas because of Covid. They were already doing that, thanks to urbanisation and modernity.

    Consider this, though: if anybody’s going to, ahem, successfully “encourage” their population to make babies, you’re probably best placing bets on the authoritarian nationalist regime, and not the gay coulrocracies who have already decided to get rid of their own native citizenry.

    The CCP likes to spread this sort of nonsense, along with claims that zero covid was the way forward and only 5,000 Chinese died from the wuflu. For a lot who claim their ideology is based on science, the CCP does come out with a lot of blather about ‘sacred and manifest destiny’. It’s all BS to keep the population hating foreigners and distracted from the boot on their throat.

    They’re a legit superpower in their own right now, so it’s probably lacist to pooh pooh the world’s No. 1 manufacturing giant. Misunderestimating the Chinee usually didn’t work out too well for the enemies of Fu Manchu, and I don’t think it’ll work for Xi’s critics either.

    Have you even seen Mulan? They’re getting down to business to defeat the Huns.

  23. dearieme,

    “You’ve misunderstood the cause of their crisis. After all the French and German misbehaviour over Brexit we are boycotting all French and German wines. We now, for example, get our bubbly from England and our Riesling from Oz and NZ.

    I invite everyone to join the cause. We do exempt a few EU wines: we don’t know of good replacements for Sherry or Madeira for instance. But all the table reds and whites that we can afford are easily replaced from Chile, Argie, RSA, Oz, NZ, England …

    We have even enjoyed delicious Canadian Eiswein. We hope to try a Welsh wine soon.”

    I have tried a number of English wines and I cannot recommend any of them. The fizz is good, but it’s equivalent to Champagne prices, while Graham Beck or Jansz are doing the same thing for a much lower price. The English still whites I’ve tried are rubbish.

    I’ve yet to find an equivalent of Italian reds, or Beaujolais and I like both. And if I want cheapo fizz, I buy things like Cremants and Cava as it still seems to be good value. But I look at Chile and South Africa first. Spend £20 in Burgundy and it’s mediocre. Spend £20 on Pinot Noir from Chile or South Africa and it’s a knockout.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    I saw a couple of docus on this a few years ago. The Chinese were going mad for Bordeaux wine and were buying up vineyards and renaming them eg Lapin Rouge, both rabbts and red being lucky in China. Chinese bosses employed French vintners and sent people to be trained at the local colleges.

    The were like most westerners and only saw $ signs when it came to China. There’s no way the Chinese were in that for the long haul.

    About 25 years ago I had some top end Great Wall wine. It was passable as an everyday wine but as my Chinese hosts pointed out, they had only just started and were looking to become major players.

    I’ve no idea what its like now but I’m betting its at least good enough for most of the local market who won’t be very sophisticated and the top end will be quite good, enough ready to take on world markets. And of course western wines will be priced out of the Chinese markets one their domestic wines are good enough.

    Perhaps MC has some insight if he’s still in HK?

  25. Due to lower levels of use and higher costs I am planning on trashing my cars. I demand that the government compensates me £100,000 for each one.

  26. Steve,

    “BiFR – Western, i.e. imported from the Western hemisphere. The Nips were feeling rich circa 1988 and trying out a lot of imported luxury goods they couldn’t really afford and that were a bit of a fad (in the Orient) anyway.

    China is different and wine is different, but it’s not that different: looks like a lot of Frogs were betting on Chinese interest in their products growing forever. Which is like being alive in 1986 and assuming demand for deely boppers and fish-out-of-water Australian comedies would only increase over time. Why they assumed this of mysterious China, which is only ever one inscrutable pronouncement from the CCP away from doing something mad, idk.”

    I’m sure there’s a proper name for it, but this is all a bit like Chris Eubank. People born into poor backgrounds who make good will buy the stereotypical rich man’s goods. Often things that aren’t actually what the rich are buying now. Another example of this was DJs in the 1970s buying a Rolls-Royce.

    Hand-stitched brogues from Church’s sold to both the Japanese back then, and are selling by the shitload in China now to the point they’ve had to expand production. People want to look as far different to being a rice farmer/prostitute as possible once they get away from that. They will adopt foreign dress or customs to signal that as loudly as possible. But I think that once a country has gone through some growth from that it becomes a bit old hat.

    French wine is very much in this. It’s expensive, but it is also a European old money thing. It’s why you have these Burgundies selling for £5K+/bottle like La Tache and Romanee-Conti. They’re like the pinnacle of new rich trying to look like old rich. And there’s not a whole lot of them that are produced each year. At some point, those prices are going to crash and crash hard.

  27. BinND…

    Mrs G. favours a Blanc de Blancs by Hambledon Vineyards which I highly recommend, but at £34/bottle it’s no giveaway – and as you say, comparable in price to quality NV champagne on offer at your local supermarket. I agree that English still wine is nothing to write home about. “£20 Burgundy is mediocre.” Would humbly suggest that £45 is the generic entry price to most wines these days, not least Burgundy. Pinot Noir (from Chile or South Africa) is a challenge that I’ve been working my way through for some time. Am currently stuck on USA. But then everyone needs a hobby.

  28. Re the present Chinese enthusiasm for (very) expensive wines… A friend, who is a serious wine enthusiast (not to mention “loaded”) was quite upset recently when his broker arranged to sell a case of one of his laid-down “nicer ones” to someone in China (albeit for £25K!!). His comment was – “the fucking barbarians will probably do their usual thing and drink it mixed with Coca Cola!”

  29. BiND,

    “About 25 years ago I had some top end Great Wall wine. It was passable as an everyday wine but as my Chinese hosts pointed out, they had only just started and were looking to become major players.

    I’ve no idea what its like now but I’m betting its at least good enough for most of the local market who won’t be very sophisticated and the top end will be quite good, enough ready to take on world markets. And of course western wines will be priced out of the Chinese markets one their domestic wines are good enough.”

    This is inevitable. Look at Romania and Chile. Back in the 1970s, with state controlled winemaking, they both made paint stripper that got you hammered. You get rid of the commies, wine making gets privatised and both start getting a bit of investment. They start flying off to France and learning from the masters. Or, they start hiring French winemakers to come out to Chile to teach their guys how to do it better. They make wine at the low end that’s really competitive. Profits from that go into yet more equipment or even better education. So you start making slightly better wine. And the cycle goes on. I don’t know about Romania, but there are now Chilean wines out of my price range, that are very highly rate.

  30. His comment was – “the fucking barbarians will probably do their usual thing and drink it mixed with Coca Cola!”

    There are fine single malts that suffer the same fate, or of being necked down like a cowboy drinking gutrot. Their naive enjoyment doesn’t matter, of course; the problem (for us) is them putting the price up and taking the stuff away.

  31. Bloke in North Dorset

    Bernie,

    “ Sorry, my last one was for the lad on the M4.”

    You got me wondering because when we lived in the Chilterns the Hambelden Vineyard was a regular visit as I liked one of their whites. It had a touch of Elderflower about it. It was £14 per bottle 14 years ago.

    BoM4, same happened in Aus and Napa Valley.

  32. BoM4 – good perspective

    dearieme – alas we’re (at the moment) in Tejas and there’s been a massive increase in price of French red wines.

    Once upon a time you could get a palatable Burgundy like a Jadot Pinot Noir for $13-ish. It’s $20-ish now. I theeenk it was the evil Trump wot dunnit (tariffs), but in any case highly drinkable Oregon Pinot Noirs whacked up their prices too. So now we’re having to pay more… Madame en Tejas – rather insists on Burgundy-like Pinot Noirs, so we’re kinda stuck.

    Yeah, tried imports from South America; tried oz vino; tried all sorts. But even to me the Burgundy tastes better… Dammit.

    Thought we were onto something when we got a half-case of Irancy from The Austin Wine merchant; my that was lovely. I’d asked them for Pommard at $25 a bottle, and they understood and suggested the Irancy. But it must have been a very lucky case, because those of later years are not at all delicious. Palatable, yes. Better than Jadot Pinot Noir? Nyet.

    Situation is better in Normandy. For a start, we can drive to the Loire Valley and to Beaune 🙂

  33. Morning BiND, I am still in HK but shortly to winter elsewhere; who knows longer term.

    At a tasting in Hong Kong last year I tried two top-end Chinese wines: Long Dai, owned by Baron de Rothschild, and Ao Yun, owned by LVMH (or co-owned most likely, but I don’t know). Both Bordeaux blends and expensive: around £250 for the Ao Yun and £300 for the Long Dai. My verdict: the Ao Yun was wonderful but the Long Dai absolute bobbins. Both outside my price range for normal drinking….

    My other wine-related twopence worth: if you are in the UK, the Wine Society has excellent value white burgundy and their own label version, despite a staggering rise from £9.95 to £12.95 is still a contender for best value white on the market. I don’t think there is such a thing as a red burgundy bargain, however Central Otago pinots are excellent alternatives. NZ makes great chardonnays too, Kumeu River is the best I have tasted.

    Count me as another voter for English sparkling, every bit as good if not better than champagne at the same price point.

    @dearime – A couple of years ago I tried this: https://gwinllanconwy.co.uk/products/rondo-2019-medium-bodied-welsh-red-wine . Worth trying but many many better reds available at that price.

  34. “Sounds like something by Douglas Adams:

    So in order to obviate this problem,” he continued, “and effectively revalue the grape, we are about to embark on a massive demolition campaign, and…er, burn down all the vineyards. I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible move under the circumstances.”

    Sounds a bit more like Catch 22 to me. Another Milo Minderbender scheme for money making……

  35. @MC: “Central Otago pinots are excellent alternatives.” Yeah, we toured there. Wunnerful fun.

    “NZ makes great chardonnays too, Kumeu River is the best I have tasted.” Fuxache man, can’t you keep a secret?

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