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Natural wines transported by sail power

More than 3,000 bottles of wine have been sailed into London by a new company keen to demonstrate the environmental benefits of old-fashioned wind power.

The future?… the Michel & Patrick. Le Grand is back row, second from the left, Isabelle Legeron top right

It looks like a relic from a bygone age, but the 20-metre wooden sailing boat anchored in London’s St Katharine dock could be a sign of things to come, according to Guillaume Le Grand, founder of TransOceanic Wind Transport (TOWT).

Le Grand and his crew this week spent four days sailing 3,500 bottles of natural wine to London from the French port of Fécamp, in partnership with the RAW natural wines fair and Loire Valley winemaker Olivier Cousin.

The six-tonne cargo also included Sfuso bag-in-box wine, from Sicily.

‘We are in phase one. This is to prove there is something there,’ said Le Grand who, together with business partner Diana Mesa, has longer-term plans to ‘build a fleet’ of between four and six ships.

The pair want to highlight society’s unsustainable reliance on oil-derived energy, and have so far also sailed olive oil, chocolate, tea and rum.

‘Last year we sailed 8,000 bottles of wine to Copenhagen, and this year we’re going to sail 15,000,’ said Le Grand, a native of Brittany and a keen sailor and who holds a degree in sustainable development, energy and the environment.

Several hundred bottles aboard the Michel & Patrick moored in London will go to the RAW fair, taking place on May 19 and 20th. All bottles will carry a ‘shipped by sail’ sticker.

RAW organiser Isabelle Legeron MW said that, for natural wines, the initiative ‘is a complete continuation of the work in the vineyard, of that philosophy’.

Written by Chris Mercer

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