While the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin tries to bring challenging speakers to the area to make presentations in a somewhat academic format, the organizers also host follow-up events in a more casual format called “Buvons un coup ensemble”. Two events with the BUCE format are coming up this Friday, one for the Corbieres and one for the Minervois.
The theme is:
« Communiquer, vendre et réussir sur le Net
Concret, efficace et pas cher !!»
So, communication and online sales. I’ll try to keep my opinions entertaining and short. And the other speaker noted in the invitations is Francois Druel
The date is Friday January 20, 2012
The time is 9h30-13h30 for Corbieres at the CIVL in Narbonne
The time is 18h00-20h30 for Minervois at the Château St Jacques d’Albas in Laure-Minervois
Benjamin Darnault is a wine consultant and technician who follows several different projects in the region. And he’s just released two new wines. The wines are good examples of the amazing value you can find in the Languedoc Roussillon, and what’s more, the story behind these wines provides an inspiring model for other grape growers and winemakers in the region who want to redefine the value of their grapes.
You see, the way cooperatives historically value grapes encourages grape growers toward bulk production. The viticulteur is paid by the kilo or per hectolitre. There are certain quality benchmarks, and growers can often sign up for a more demanding “cahier de charge” so that they will be paid MORE by the kilo or hectoliter. But the goal is still to hit certain quantitative benchmarks because you’re being paid for volume. A lot of the best parcels are actually devalued by this system because they produce less fruit. Quality often plays second fiddle to quantity.
But out of this tragedy comes great hope. Benjamin Darnault looks for the parcels that are undervalued by the co-op. He says that these parcels create a quality of grape that would be much more valuable if separated and vinified as a small-production wine. Cooperatives are good at volume, but (save for a few exceptions) they don’t necessarily know what to do with their best parcels. These parcels can make several thousands of bottles of great wine if kept separate, but some Co-ops can’t even fill the pipes with that small an amount.
So Ben creates value by keeping these wines separate. And he’s been successful, finding a large amount of support from the community at Naked Wines who actually financed this first release (a story worth an entire post). It’s all very interesting and I hope you enjoy the video.
I don’t want to pretend that this is revolutionary. Co-ops very commonly try to do an “haut de gamme”. A lot of growers try to make a bit of wine on their own while selling the bulk of their production to the cooperatif. But at the same time, something feels very unique about this story. Maybe it’s the way Ben is interacting with his UK importer Naked. The wine is sold all the way to final customers before he’s ever bottled it. That’s impressive! It gives you a lot of hope for some of the wine communities around here that are having trouble making ends meet. Maybe they can all adopt this sort of model one day.
Here’s the video introduction on Naked’s site:
Benjamin Darnault 2009, Benjamin Darnault, AOC Minervois
Benjamin Darnault Vielle Reserve 2008, Benjamin Darnault, AOC Minervois la Liviniere
Nous continuons notre dégustation avec Jean Baptiste Sénat qui nous présente un vin à lui et quelques vins qui ne sont pas de son Domaine.
Nous évoquons l’importance de la curiosité et des jeunes vignerons prêts à surmonter les difficultés. Le Languedoc va se relever! Participer dans cette révolution en cherchant ces jeunes vignerons. Ca sera un acte de résistance!
Visiter les vignerons vous même! Il faut être curieux!
Viti Vini Bibi 2008, Domaine Benjamin Taillandier, AOC Minervois (?)
Le Bois des Merveilles 2007, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Sénat, AOC Minervois
Vérité de Sylvaner 2003, Domaine Loew (?), AOC Alsace (?)
Le Vin de Mes Amis – Ce blog est “une invitation au voyage, à la rencontre d’hommes et de femmes qui font de beaux vins, des vins de terroir, sans sacrifier aux modes. Un lieu de curiosité et de débat aussi, sans chapelle ni préjugé.” Bu Sur le Web – Une québéquoise qui fait beaucoup parler du vin.
Viti Vini Bibi – jeu sur “veni vidi vici”, Latin de cuisine.