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French winemakers go naked for calendar

First the UK Women’s Institute went naked, then the New York fire department and British prison officers, and now the winemakers of the Côtes de Bourg are releasing a nude calendar.

It’s not exactly new as far as publicity stunts go but the Côtes de Bourg producers are used to being considered the black sheep of Bordeaux.

Having a rebellious streak, the region is called the ‘enfant terrible of the Bordeaux family’, and the naked winemakers have dubbed themselves ‘the enfants terribles of the Côtes de Bourg’.

The idea of stripping off to raise money or for publicity follows an honourable tradition. The most famous example was the calendar produced by the Rylstone Women’s Institute in North Yorkshire that resulted in the 2003 hit film Calendar Girls, starring Helen Mirren.

The Côtes de Bourg calendar, out in just over a week’s time, features both male and female winemakers aged from 30 to 60, strategically positioned in various poses and states of undress.

It wasn’t easy to find winemakers willing to strip off, project organiser Marie Le Marchand said.

‘It was sometimes difficult to find people who wanted to play the game, as it were,’ she said. ‘We didn’t want the glossy professionalism of some calendars. We wanted to represent the natural aspect of the vigneron’s work. We wanted something amateur or natural to represent the winemaker’s slogan, “sacré nature” (crazy nature).’

Buyers of the calendar (cover pictured: no images are being released before publication) should not expect high-level glamour, Le Marchant warns. ‘Winemakers aren’t top models.’

Not all is rosy, however, with some local winemakers objecting to the image of their Bordeaux wines being tarnished by such unashamed posturing.

‘There are some old-school French winemakers here who object to this kind of thing,’ said Le Marchant. She also said that the harsh Evin law – which regulates tobacco and alcohol advertising in France – could cause problems.

Some 3,000 copies of the calendar have been produced and 1,200 have been sold before its launch.

Written by Oliver Styles

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