TV documentary highlights French wine crisis

The French are not ready to hear what a documentary highlighting the problems of French wines abroad has to say, according to its director.

The 52-minute programme, ‘Tempête dans un Verre de Vin’ (Storm in a glass of wine), was screened last Monday on French television channel France 5 and will be shown again this Friday on cable and satellite.

Although, by the director’s own admission, the programme is ‘simplistic’ for those who understand the situation of French wines in the worldwide market, the documentary has been received with shock in some quarters.

‘Journalists in [French newspapers] Le Figaro and Le Monde sounded slightly alarmed when they talked of the film. This is a reality that people do not imagine. The public and the wine producers are not ready to hear what is being said,’ Nicolas Glimois, the director of the documentary told decanter.com.

‘The rest of the world does not respect anything. Not even the wines that are the pride of our old nation,’ began Vincent Noce in his review of the documentary for French newspaper Libération.

With reports that many Bordeaux winemakers are on the verge of bankruptcy, things look set to get harder for French producers.

‘Some of them have a knife at their throats; there are big, big problems, even in the Languedoc. There has been no real awareness of the problem and we will see what the next 10 years will bring,’ said Glimois.

‘There is a crisis, it’s true. It is catastrophic for certain people. It’s very tough, I work harder and harder and with less and less – it’s [financially] tight – and I could have a lot to complain about,’ said Philippe Bardet of Château Picoron and Château du Val d’Or.

Glimois was keen to stress, however, that the programme was not a catalogue of doom, citing French successes in the global wine market and naming globetrotting oenologist Michel Rolland as a prime example.

‘My real worry is that there will be a standardisation of wine,’ said Glimois, afraid that taste and terroir will lose their diversity, as France tries harder and harder to compete in the global market.

But some were positive about Bordeaux’s future.

‘The only way to get out of the problem is to raise the quality of our wines. There’s crisis, but we will come out of it improved,’ said Bardet.

Written by Oliver Styles