Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Organic reflections – day 1

I’m in Montpellier for Millesime Bio, the world’s biggest organic wine fair. There are about 500 producers, mostly French, but South Africa, Argentina and California get a look along with Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Romania, Switzerland, Poland and even Egypt. I aim to visit the stalls of the last two tomorrow.

It’s huge and frankly daunting – so much bigger than when I first came five years ago. Organic is now mainstream – but not, it seems, in the UK. Our big supermarkets aren’t bothered much (except, perhaps, Waitrose). Germany is the big market – over five time bigger than the UK. We bump along with Holland, Denmark, Belgium and Japan, all also behind the US.

A shame methinks. Organic isn’t just big now (now 6% of the French vineyard) but respectable. There aren’t many shaggy beards and sandals in the two huge halls of the Parc des Expos. The best wines are stunning – especially those from Alsace, with a superb purity of fruit flavours. OK there are wacky wines: Richard Doughty, for example, makes unashamedly oxidised dry Semillon with zero SO2 in Bergerac – but it does taste rather, strangely good.

Another update tomorrow – when I’ve slept on what I’ve tasted and probably come to no more serious conclusions.

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