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Carol Emmas - LIWF Day 1 - Different Opinions

Published:  13 May, 2009

First stop at the LIWF was 'Les Terroiristes du Midi' stand (H50) which has sparked a bit of controversy with its radical theme - just what was intended.

"Yes, the name is for marketing purposes, we don't want to be another mediocre name, we want to be noticed," said Stéphan Cabrolier from Made in Vins Terranée. Cabrolier represents four of the 23 winemakers under the Les Terroiristes du Midi umbrella.

Les Terroiristes du Midi consist of 23 "Mediterranean mavericks," who are independent wine growers but belong to a cluster group.

They believe that there is strength in numbers and are chosen for their individuality, authentic winemaking philosophies and common environmental concerns.

In their opinion being a collective brings many benefits such as being able to afford to come to the LIWF as a group (it's their first time), to help each other out as winemakers and producers, and to reduce their own carbon footprint.

"It's not just publicity, we are firm believers in the terroir and the quality of the wine we produce.

"But we wanted a name that's a bit edgy, and Les Terroiristes du Midi lends itself nicely. It's used as a way to show that we produce wines with some balls and that we respect the terroir that our wines come from."

Yet there are a few that thought the name inappropriate and the fact that they "want to strike terroir into the hearts and minds of the British public", as wine writer Robert Joseph, commented:

" The only possible excuse for this idea was that the people concerned were under the mistaken impression that their press release was going to go out on April 1st. But even then it would have been in bad taste."

An unhurried and relaxed atmosphere permeated the wine fair on day one. People had time to chew the cud, chat about their wines and devote time to showing them, and of course give their different and very diverse opinions on what makes what they're doing so special.

Another chat I had that provoked different opinions was about the relaxation of strict rules governing the way the Europeans make rosé.

At the moment it's created in the traditional way from red wine grapes which have been left to macerate for a shorter time than would be necessary to make red wine. An alternative method practiced by some New World producers is to blend red and white wines.

The European Commission sees that by allowing this method it would open up the process by making rosés more flexible and less bound by traditional laws.

I visited the Provence Rosé stand and spoke to Alexandra Fauchas and producer Veronique Goupy who are passionate about the tradition of rosé winemaking:

"We want to keep the tradition, winemakers have worked really hard to improve the quality of rosé wines and educate consumers and we don't want to spoil that image.

"In our opinion the blending of red and white wines does not make a proper rosé."

On the other side of the coin Nicky Strickland Smith of HwCg said: "Red and white wines are used to make rosé in the New World.

"I think it's a good idea and in fact will continue to bring more choice of rosé to the consumer and many other different styles and varieties."

My next stop was Oregon (F50) to chat to Howard Rossbach, president of Firesteed Cellars and there were no two sides to the coin here, only one question. That is; why Oregon Pinot Noirs are so thin on the ground in the UK?

I tasted my first Oregon Pinot Noir a few years back and it was from the Cristom Vineyards after a friend who was working as assistant winemaker bought a bottle or two back. I loved it then and I hoped I wasn't going to be disappointed as I've not had a chance to taste one since.

And the result was no, I was not disappointed. Do visit the Oregon stand and at least taste the Firesteed Cellars Citation Pinot Noir 2000.

I shall say no more and let you construct your own opinion.

It was certainly my taste of vinous heaven on my first day of the LIWF.