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Published:  23 July, 2008

Producers of AOC Minervois are taking a bullish attitude towards future sales prospects, even as vin de table producers continue to protest that business conditions are impossible. The UK is the major export market for Minervois, taking nearly a third of the 60,000 hectolitres sold outside France in 2000, and British buyers were the guests of honour as Millsime Minervois 2001 was celebrated on January 20-21 with a tasting in Carcassonne. But while the new vintage shows the high quality of the best Minervois, Philippe Coste - president of the Minervois growers' syndicate - insists his members must continue to aim for higher quality and work together. The south of France is the best wine area in the world, but it lacks a global strategy,' he told Harpers. Learning some of the New World's marketing skills would help, he believes. But some vignerons are more interested in production than in ensuring the commercial success of their wines.' That was emphasised at the Carcassonne tasting, where few of the area's co-operative cellars, responsible for around half of all AOC Minervois, were present. One problem is the wide price range, with cellar-door per-bottle figures running from under e2 to e15-plus. There's also the difficulty of persuading buyers to pay up for premium wines. Another lies in the moves towards individual crus within the appellation. The first, La Livinire, was approved from the 1997 vintage, but progress on others has largely stalled and support for the policy is far from unanimous.