Thursday, 23 February 2012

VINISUD

I’ve just spent an intensive three days at Vinisud, as I suspect, have some of you. It was my first visit to this fair since 2004. So my very first impression was: it’s got BIGGER! I have to say that I can remember the very first Vinisud, back in 1994 when it took up just one hall. Now there are ten large halls and the catalogue of exhibitors weighs in at 700 gms.

I’ve returned to London with lots of great impressions. There was a pre-fair tasting on Sunday with the Vinifilles, a dynamic group of eighteen lady winemakers. Faugères and St. Chinian celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of their appellations, created in1982, three years ahead of the Coteaux du Languedoc. There were old friends to see, and familiar and not so familiar estates with new vintages, as well new estates to discover. Maria Fita in Fitou comes into that category.

That energetic PR lady, Christine Ontivero, whose wardrobe is full of the most exotic hats, had organised vertical tastings at Domaine de la Roc des Anges and Domaine du Grand Crès, so some original wines from Roussillon and Corbières respectively. I love vertical tastings so I also leapt at the chance to taste a range of Quetton St. Georges at the enchanting château de l’Engarran, and the following evening I was in a wine bar in the centre of Montpellier tasting Pascal Fulla’s top wine, L’Ecriture.

I also strayed out of the Languedoc, to Domaine de Pibarnon in Bandol, to Chêne Bleu in the southern Rhone, and to Corsica for a very rewarding presentation by Oliver Poussier of some of his favourite Corsican wines. He was so enthusiastic that I was inspired to taste yet more wines from the Ile de Beauté on the Corsican stand.

And the final highlight was some very mature Rivesaltes from Domaine Cazes, just three wines, but two of them were older than me! I ran out of superlatives. I’ve just found the piece that I wrote about the very first Vinisud for Wine & Spirit magazine, and back then I was also enthusing about Rivesaltes Vieux from Domaine Cazes.

What is perhaps more telling is that I concluded the article by saying that the most exciting thing about that very first Vinisud was that it happened at all. Ten years earlier, or even five years earlier it would have been inconceivable that the wines of the Midi were of sufficient quality to sustain a fair – yes, I know that it covers other areas of the Mediterranean, but none the less Languedoc-Roussillon accounted and still accounts for the lion’s share. The continuing growth and success of Vinisud is a tremendous testimony to the quality of the wines of the south of France.

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