French vintners "need to adapt to modern tastes"

Tue Sep 1, 2009 8:12am EDT
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By Marcel Michelson

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - French vintners have to take more account of the habits of modern drinkers if they want to survive the current crisis, but they should not go as far as making fruity drinks with a little alcohol, a leading critic believes.

"The current trend is about survival," said Michel Bettane, co-author of the annual Bettane and Desseauve French wine guide, a former classical literature teacher turned wine journalist.

"There are some, like the big names in Bourgogne and Bordeaux, who can continue things the way they have always done and then there are many who need to find a way to show what they have that the others do not," he said in an interview.

"They will have to take account of the modern consumer, and work on the specifics of their wines and ground," he added.

The modern consumer buys a wine in the morning at the supermarket and expects to drink it the same evening -- there is no longer time to put a bottle away in a cellar for many years and then decant it and let the wine breathe.

"You need wines that mature young," Bettane said.

His team tasted 50,000 wines of the French 2007 harvest and Bettane said that in general the impression was good and he predicted that white wines would gain in popularity just as the rose wines had enjoyed a good summer season.

Most wines sell for less than 10 euros ($14) and compete on a world market where other countries also have decent products.   Continued...

<p>Wine merchants talk during Vinexpo, the world's biggest wine fair, in Bordeaux, southwestern France, June 22, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau</p>