By Jane Anson
I have to thank journalist Suzanne Maastricht at AFP for the title above and she is absolutely right. Proving yet again that the French have a split personality towards wine right now (see Wink’s post on her personal blog last month), the government has just created a new Ministry for Wine Tourism.
The Wine Tourism Council will be officially under the control of the French Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Culture and Communication, and the Ministry of Tourism. It will be run by Paul Dubrule, whose tourism credentials are thankfully formed well away from the government, as co-founder of Novotel and president of the Accor hotel group between 1983 and 1997.
Today he owns a vineyard in the Lubéron, and part of his remit will be to organise a national plan for wine tourism – with awards for the best initiatives, training for wine tourism professionals and some kind of national quality scheme among the proposed activities.
All well and good of course, and of particular interest to those of us who love visiting wine regions in France. But surely this makes a mockery of the fact that, just a few doors away in Paris, there are other members of the government busily working away at how to make tasting at the châteaux door an illegal act, or to declare those talking about wine on the internet open to potential prosecution?
So here we have arrived at the new French paradox: As Allan Sichel, owner of Château Palmer and director of Maison Sichel négociants, questions: “How credible are we in promoting Bordeaux wine to the world if it is condemned in its own country?”
If you understand French, then to find out more on how France is shooting itself in the foot, read the excellent and detailed blog post on the subject from Belgium wine writer Hervé Lalau and, as he suggests, spread the word.
And in the meantime, the vignerons need all the support we can give them, so plan your wine tour around France now!