This Blog is 'A plea for Diversity in Wine.' Three years ago we heard about an annual meeting in SW France called 'Rencontres des Cepages Modestes.' We were immediately drawn to the idea of attending this event as it promised a really serious survey of diverse varieties from the growers' point of view as well as the consumer's. Two years passed when events prevented us from making the pilgrimage but in 2015, the opportunity arose to attending one of the two days of lectures, meetings and tastings.
The word Pilgrimage is apposite. St. Come seems still to be a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In the beginning of November its aspect is a tad mournful but no doubt in summer it must be rather attractive.
|The Salle des Fetes, St. Come d'Olt, venue of the Rencontres|
The first and only full day included presentations on Pineau d'Aunis (one of our favourite cepages) and on Savoie where so much interesting work has been done to revive varieties such as Persan and Gringet by the Grisard family and others, already celebrated in this blog.
|Henri Galinie (left) and Jean Rosen|
The atmosphere was convivial. The presentations serious and informative. Presiding with easy bonhommie were Jean Rosen, 'Directeur de recherche au Centre National de Recherche Scientifique,' Dijon and Henri Galinié, retired director of the CNRS at Tours who is principally an archeologist specializing in the middle ages. These two gentlemen wear their formidable learning and authority lightly. Jean Rosen, the organizer of the Cepages was able to fill in for a last minute withdrawal at short notice. Henri Galinié is the treasurer as well as being one of the best lecturers of the event. Amazingly his Wikipedia entry makes no mention of any interest in vines or wine.
|Henri Galinié on Pineau d'Aunis|
|Eric Nicolas of Domaine de Belliviere|
|before the onslaught|
|two hours and still at it|
Someone asked Plageoles of his work with wild woodland varieties had produced any good wine to which he replied with an emphatic 'non'. However he believes his work might be crucial in providing a new rootstock on which to graft vines in the case of a future plague of a vine disease like Phylloxera one day. He made a plea to 'les jeunes' to continue this kind of research before it is too late.
There was a lot of talk about the Vassal collection and plans to move it to Montpelier which everyone said could not be done without losing a large quantity of the plants due to the different terroir etc. Everyone was up in arms about that one.
So, something unique and interesting all-in-all and a privilege to be in the company of so many pioneers and preservers of vanishing varieties. What a contrast to the world of Grand Cru brands and industrial wines. We may not be in a rush to return but the Rencontres definitely comes under the category of 'vaut le voyage'.
|Thierry Navarre wines|