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December 11, 2009


Alice Feiring

excellent stuff, Bert. Wish I had been there. Maybe catch up with you in Feb?-Alice


Bettane is a fossil ,lost in simplistic and shallow thinking process.. unable to see things on a larger tableau.


Thank you, Alice ! Yes, I should be around in february, we'll find time for a glass or a dinner somewhere...
Jason : yes, the thinking is strange here, as well as the logic, if there is any. I guess there's a cultural gap, or a generational gap that makes him uncomfortable and explains this rethoric, I don't know.


Excellent article, Bert (as usual:-)), I was waiting for a longer report on this event, in which I couldn't participate at that moment because of the fee (as all small vignerons, I had to pay my annual social fees and invest in the next bottling...so it was a bad moment, to pay 750€ just to present one wine, even when there was a "special reduction" just before the end of the inscription). Being part of the natural-wine methods in the vineyard and in my cellar, I would have liked to participate in the debate - so thank you once again for this long transcription, which allows to notice, that Michel Bettane used the same arguments as usual - you pointed out very well, where it becomes polemic and really bad faith....

I think, the woman winemaker from the Minervois was probably Francoise LeCalvez, from Château Coupe Roses at La Caunette http://www.coupe-roses.com/en/index.html (but I haven't found a list of all participants yet). If I'm right, I can tell that she and specially her husband, Pascal Frissant, have been well known figures of the organic movement in the Languedoc, fighting in the first place for more quality in wines, and very far from being sectarians or illuminés! His work for southern wines and their improvement for the last 30 years and his personal way would be worth an interview here:-)!

It's interesting, that we have to wait for "the photographer" to give us a complete report, while professional writers (journalists or blogger) hadn't very much to tell yet.

Michel Bettane

I am surprised by your translation (biased interpretation?) of many passages of my contribution, people with a better understanding or better honesty will correct. The 2 euros price is of course the average price paid to the grower, by the trade, not the price in wine shops! The average price for one liter of Corbières is less than one euro! For Bordeaux far less than two...Ad be assured that I taste hundreds of what you are lucky to call in english organic (and not bio) wines every year and more than one hundred of organig growers making excellent wines are selected in my guide for numerous years.....The problem comes from the bad ones and their supporters.....


Thank you Mr Bettane for these corrections. I had been thinking about the possibility that you meant the grower price for this two-Euro rate you were talking about and I should have noted it.

Of course my sentence "Maybe he isn't that prolific a taster" was a bit provocative and I never doubted that you have tasted quite a lot of natural wines too, but you know for having practiced it yourself that a bit of provocation brings salt in a debate...

Iris :
Thanks for all the info. Yes, now I see, I should have known her, Françoise LeCalvez, I know about Pascal Frissant's work and tireless energy and even met him shortly a few years ago. Of course I'd be happy to make a portrait/post with interview on him... It's time that I get back to your region at last...


Oneill Brickman

Mr. Bettane is right. There´s no organic or biodinamic wines. Those words cannot be applied to wines. Only to grapes. So the correct would be "wine made from organic(1rst stage) or biodinamic(2nd stage) grapes". He knows this too well from long, long time.
And because of this is that he is clearly in bad faith.


There's something that is missed by Michel Bettane's in his relentness attacks against the natural-wine movement that he thinks is limited to a small band of rebels, it's that (and he seems to ignore it) the top estates of Bordeaux and Burgundy are actually also vinifying on a totally un-interventionist way and without additives tricks (even if they don't trumpet it, for reasons I will dwell on one day)...

W. H. Owen

Dear Friends, During my thirty years in the wine trade (the last 12 as a winery owner and winemaker) I have sold many vintages of
Domaine Richaud, some at retail, some wholesale. These are without doubt among the finest wines in the entire Rhone region. Making wines of this consistent quality and distinctive personality without intervention requires exceptional skill and discipline. Deep pockets are a necessity as well for times when things go the wrong way. Modern culture has evolved around the idea that doing that which is safe and/or convenient is the default rather than that which is best and the right thing in a holistic sense.
It is very easy to fail and fail badly in the attempt to make wine without additives so when someone succeeds so notably as M. Richaud, his skill, his insight and his talent should be held up and applauded by all of us who love wine. Owen


Great article!
The discussion here in austria is the same- but not in this public way. The governmental functionaries discuss with the vignerons behind closed doors. Even those who do organic do not have the same opinion - and that's the problem. The consumer should not know what is really going on with the wines. The consumer here really thinks that wine is a natural product by itself - and thats wrong.
Here in austria we have approx. 200 different yeasts for use. Some are neutral but some produce very strange aromatics which have nothing to do with the origin of the wines .But there are far many additives in the stores too. The agrar concerns know that the austrian vignerons live well and they push lots of pesticides and additives on the market. Everyone can afford it. I can tell you there is big money in this market - the concerns need people in the government to push their products and to make the correct LAWS!!!

Yes - for sure - the consumer should decide which wine is good or not. Here a bunch of 6 people decide by blind tasting if a wine is good in quality or not. This is far away from the real market.


Thanks Bertrand. I read the piece in L'express and thought, well never mind...
In the end it should be up to the consumer to decide. Never understood why some AOC's are so famous. Same here in Italy, nice Barolo for instance is virtually non existent but yet it remains famous/popular expensive. Dare I say Champagne fits the same hat.
I'm always very weiry of wine guides, I used to use them but have given up. I never understand how they function. It is impossible to be objective and surely their tastes are not mine. Mr. Bettane mentions 'faults or defects' in wine. To me using industrial yeasts etc. kills wine, makes it loose it's fresh taste. Most of the time it ends up like these 'nice'cookies you buy in supermarkets they all have that weird taste to them and most of the time you won't finish a bottle. Now that is what I would call a defect.

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