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New world threats as real as ever: Magrez

French wine grandee Bernard Magrez is convinced the New World is set to steal France’s clothes – again.

Magrez – the multimillionaire proprietor of 32 wine properties worldwide, and a Parker favourite – reckons the Old World, and France in particular, is facing a time-bomb in the form of world demographics: the ageing population.

Received wisdom has it that as people get older they turn away from sweeter, fruitier wines and favour the drier more structured style – so they should naturally gravitate towards old world reds.

But Magrez says France’s big mistake is to think that people will automatically look to the old world in search of these styles – and it is equally wrong to think that only the old world can make that kind of wine.

‘It is crazy is to say it is impossible for the new world to copy the old,’ he told decanter.com. ‘And it is nonsense to suggest people will turn to the old world for more elegant styles.

‘What will happen is the new world, as it progresses with new technology, will develop this new style of wine.’

Magrez says new world producers are aware of world demographics – the vast baby boomer generation now getting into their 50s and 60s – and are preparing for it by aiming at more structured styles.

‘This is all our problem,’ he said. ‘All our company’s new strategy is based on this concept. It is essential to produce wine in the modern style for the modern market.’

He cited his wines from Toro, and blends such as the Merlot-dominant La Croix du Prieure, and his flagship Pape-Clement from Pessac Leognan, as examples of the modern style.

He added that many in France believe ‘M Magrez is totally mad’ to suggest the new world is going to steal the French style of wine.

But he said he had seen it in many wines – notably the higher altitude styles from places such as Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

‘I tasted the wines of Clarendon Hills last night. I consider this an excellent wine – near to a Bordeaux 2nd growth in quality. This is the sort of competition Bordeaux faces.’

Magrez has been described by Robert Parker as ‘one of Bordeaux’s leading visionaries/revolutionaries’. He owns Chateau Pape Clement, La Tour Carnet, Fombrauge in Bordeaux, and others in Napa, Toro and Priorat in Spain, Argentina, Portugal, Morocco and Uruguay. He is a partner of film stars-turned-vignerons Gerard Depardieu and Carole Bouquet.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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