Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

Sailing on a sea of prosecco


Not a pleasant image. I did taste a very nice Prosecco at Vinisud this year so I am sure there are some very pleasing wines. However, since returning to the UK last month everywhere I turn I see Prosecco taking over. It is apparently the chosen tipple of women, young women in particular. In supermarkets trolleys seem to be incomplete without a bottle, in bars people ask for it. Not any particular Prosecco, no thought towards vineyard and production methods let alone quality. Just Prosecco.

I hear people asking for a Chardonnay or Merlot in bars too and it made me realise just how rarified is the world of wine in which I am now happily rooted. For the general wine drinker terroir means nothing, SO2 even less. This blog and the many other forms of writing about wine are a minority interest as we sail the good ship ‘Quality’ against the tide of commercial prosecco.


Nevertheless quality does matter and little things mean a lot to those of us who are fascinated by wine. I am currently re-reading American wine importer and writer Kermit Lynch’s 1990 book ‘Adventures On The Wine Route’ and was highly amused by a decription of his early work. He was bowled over by the Burgundy wines of Hubert de Montille in the 1970s but, sadly,  when they arrived in the USA he was devastated because the wines were dumb. He contacted de Montille to complain they weren’t the same wines, which of course was not true. The wines had simply cooked on board the ship as they travelled through Panama. De Montille explained that his were ‘natural wines’.

He meant, of course, that his wines were living and are altered by conditions around them and by time etc. Nobody would question de Montille’s statement. Wine is a living thing. Yet just yesterday at a wine conference in Verona an audience member at a session about natural wine made the statement that ‘natural wine does not travel’. Presumably s/he believes that SO2 is travel insurance for wine!


As de Montille said back in the 70s all wine will suffer if not transported correctly. The answer lay in Lynch usung refrigerated containers to take wine to California. Jeff Coutelou’s wine travels to the USA, Japan, Australia and all over Europe without problem. Kermit Lynch himself imports plenty of natural wine (the modern version) such as Barral and Ganévat. In the same conference Alice Feiring reported that in 2015 there were no natural wine fairs in the USA, this year there were six and demand is growing. Natural wine doesn’t travel?? Nonsense.

Does this matter? In the wider world these are academic concerns, of little matter to most wine drinkers. Yet amongst those of us to whom wine really matters the argument rages on, full of hot air cooking rational debate as surely as those wines in the 70s. Carried along on the waves of Prosecco rather than the Panama Canal.

Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

8 thoughts on “Sailing on a sea of prosecco

  1. Hi, I am a regular reader of your blog, very interesting and informative! I live in NYC and I love Jeff’s wines and drink them here. But, as you know, many of Ketmit’s imports here are not natural as they are sustainable and use chemicals. I am the NYC rep for Raisin, the only, and free app, which lists places, on four continents, where one can purchase and drink natural wine. Let me know if you want some info on it.

    Best, Andrew

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes that would be good Andrew thank you, my email is


  3. Hi! I think I know who/what you’re talking about from the Verona wine conference. It was a Chinese member of the audience who wanted to make the point that wines without sulfites shouldn’t be exported because they don’t travel well.
    As it happened, Alice Feiring made the good point that even fine wines (she, for the audience, mentioned Barolo and Barbaresco) deserve not to be left on a dock in Singapore for days on end. Totally true.
    Needless to say, I like this new blog post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your comments about wine buying tendencies are accurately to a degree Alan, but I have just left Winemakers Club in London. I’ve just drunk a delicious Pinot from Anton Von Klopper. We are so lucky in London. As I left, the bar was getting packed with people somewhat older than me. Those who spend time in the capital are very lucky.


  5. In the Uk, they will just buy the cheapest!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Spot on as a general comment, Bob, but don’t tar us all with the same brush (having just bought a £36 Mondeuse).

    There are some really good Prosecco. But not the £5 Ines which cover U.K. Shelves. But it’s the same with most things. Like the Beaujolais Nouveau thing, where you could find 4.50€ bottles in Paris, but pay up to 15€ for a really good one from Foillard etc.

    Another great read, Alan. So much in there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks David, yes there are good examples and I included one for that reason, to show that not all Prosecco is bad and I wasn’t dismissing all wines. Bob is right that most people will just buy what’s on offer, or generic wines. My point, as David supports, is that there is a more passionate minority who are prepared to research and pay for quality. If people are happy with generic Chardonnay, Shiraz or Prosecco then fine, I just wish some would occasionally try something more artisanal. Not helped by press reports that cheap wine is every bit as good as expensive wine. Part of the anti-expert sentiment of our times.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s