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Raise a toast to English wine

In June, wine expert and businessman Alain Marty spoke to us about his work. Here are some reader responses.

Having read your article regards French wine and the new world wines I am in total agreement with Alain Marty.

I am an expat and work part time for a wine export company in St Emilion and have done for 12 months. I arrived in France in 2005 and from the off went in search of my passion enlisting for the vendange [grape harvest] in 2005.

It was a good year all round and it was very interesting to be part of that harvest.
My intentions was to learn the wine from the factory floor up to the desk. I also assisted in the weak harvest of 2006.

I found during this time that many French people knew nothing about the wine and even employees of the harvest knew very little as it was just a job for them. It must have been annoying for them with all my questions but luckily my interest and questioning paid off as the proprietor heard and he started to give me the information I required.
He was happy that someone actually wanted to know about the process and variety identification.

Later I found a group of friends who also had a passion for wine. We would meet and undertake a degustation quite often mainly Saint-Estèphe and Saint-Emilion Grands Crus some Cotes but also the wines of the east too, the Roussillon and Chateauneuf du Pape.

Among the group we have two Maître de chai [who look after maturing wines on the vineyard] both from Saint-Emilion and both are very honest with their opinions.

As was mentioned in article, the British are more likely to learn where as some French nationals will believe they have the right to dictate the quality of a wine without any knowledge. This is annoying and even more when what you have to say is immediately dismissed as you are English and can not possibly know about ‘our’ wine.

Working in the wine trade and attending many primers each year plus the wine expo in Bordeaux every two years, I believe I am learning all the time.

I also believe I know what is a good wine and what does not quite make the mark. We have export agents in UK and they also agree that people are asking for cabernets, merlots, pinot noir, shiraz and grenache etc.

Its time we gave the customer what they want, as I find it so annoying in France that it is the tail wagging the dog in most industries and I am sure that can not be right, it’s just not good business.
My passion for wine will continue and I will do my best not to be come too much of a wine snob, I don't think my pocket would allow that, and a good wine is where you find it.
Barry Hughes
Espiet

I read with interest the big interview with Alain Marty about French wine and its plight.

As a former member of the English Vineyards Association I have to take issue with the question "Have you tried any British Wine". Mr Marty responded "Yes, there are 200 English Vineyards". By yes, one supposes he has tried British wine, but quite rightly he talks about English wine thereafter.

I would like to set the record straight, this is not because I have anything against the Scots or the Welsh or the Northern Irish, where the climate is not (yet) quite suitable for wine making. It is because there is an important distinction.

British Wine is factory made in bulk from imported grape juice. English wine emanates from growers who have planted their vines in England and usually produce the wine at the vineyard.
Anne Cunningham
By email

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