Bordeaux: Restaurants with no local wine denounced

Up to 10-20% of Bordeaux restaurants do not serve wine from the local region, the director of tourism has said

The Bordeaux director of tourism has condemned restaurants in the region that do not sell a single local wine, and called on them to pay as much attention to their wine lists as to their food.

Nicolas Martin has launched a social media campaign condemning restaurants in the area “who do not offer Bordeaux [wine] on their wine list”. This accounts for 10-20% of establishments in the region, he said.

He was prompted to start the campaign after taking an Australian friend to a restaurant “that had a good reputation in the town”, he said, and found that there was no Bordeaux wine on the menu.

Mr Martin said: “Imagine a tourist who has travelled hundreds of kilometres to the ‘Mecca’ of wine, and cannot even try a local variety! I am obviously not talking about themed restaurants - such as Corsican - but of bistrots or brasseries, and even wine bars.”

Mr Martin said that when he spoke to the restaurateur about it, the latter said the wine list simply matched the food, which was very “international”.

He said: “But a great number of Bordeaux wines would go perfectly with his food. And this restaurateur had not taken into account how much the town has changed; 30-40% of his clientele were not locals, and therefore come here to find local products.”

Restaurants often spend a lot of time and effort creating menus using local ingredients, Mr Martin said, but do not apply the same ethos to their wine lists.

He said: “I am not asking restaurants to serve ‘only’ Bordeaux. But when you are based here, you must at least offer local wine. Why fly over wine from New Zealand in a plane, when we produce it here? There are economic and ecological reasons behind this move too.”

Christophe Chateau, communications director at Bordeaux wine council Le Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB), agreed with Mr Martin that around 10% of local restaurants were not serving local wine.

He said: “Even if it were just 5% of restaurants [that did not serve it] that would be too many. Restaurants here should serve a wine list of at least 50% Bordeaux wine.”

Mr Chateau admitted that many people felt that Bordeaux wine had a reputation for being expensive and old-fashioned, but reminded people that some very reasonable and modern varieties could be had for as little as €5-6.

Nicolas Lascombes, a restaurateur who runs eight restaurants in Gironde and has a 50% Bordeaux wine list, said: “We have to watch out that we are not losing our Bordeaux heritage for the sake of one or two euros.

“Restaurants have to make an effort, and winemakers have to make an effort too; in their labelling, and their marketing, [so they can compete] with sexier products from abroad.”

The CIVB has now set up a meeting with hospitality union l’Umih (Union des Métiers et de l'Industrie de l'Hôtellerie), to help “find solutions” for Bordeaux restaurateurs on the issue.

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