French irked by Italian growth: omphakes eisin (unripe [not sour] grapes)

Much has been written about Italian viticulture’s substantive growth in volume and international sales. See, for example, Alder Yarrow’s post American and Italian Wine: Movin’ on Up!, published late last month and a fascinating post published by Alfonso Cevola, Italian Wine 2008 — Report from Flyover Country, published yesterday and culled from data collected by one of the largest distributors of fine wine in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the French weekly L’Express published an editorial entitled, Italy makes more wine than France… but not better wine. According to author Philippe Bidalon, France produced 485 million 12-bottle cases in 2008 while Italy produced 552 million. He attributes this to the fact that his transalpine cousins enjoyed a bumper crop in 08 while climatic “capriciousness” was the reason behind a light harvest in his homeland.

“What is important for French viticulture,” he opines, “is not to produce an infinite amount of beverages that it cannot sell — as our Latin [Italian] competitors do — but rather to make the most of the richness and diversity offered by its terroirs. It is safe to say that today Italy produces more table wines of little interest and that France makes more and more quality wines.” (translation by VinoWire)

Thou doth protest too much, methinks, Philippe. Your grapes are not sour, they’re just unripe.*

Jeremy Parzen

* See the “Unripe versus sour” note in this Wikipedia entry.


One thought on “French irked by Italian growth: omphakes eisin (unripe [not sour] grapes)

  1. Regarding the article in L’Express: To quote my grandmother, “that’s just a bunch of horse sh*t!” That is one of the reasons why the French wine business is in the crapper. All due respect to Fench wine and honored traditions, but to throw the Italians under the bus is just NOT ACCEPTABLE. I’ve heard that “richness and diversity offered by its terroirs.” line enough now. There is terroir in all of the world.

    Jeesh, someone ought to send Philippe Bidalon a deep-sea fishing pole. He’s gonna need it!
    What an a**hole.

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