The previous pictures of lifeless vineyards dosed with weedkiller came from Epeigné-les-Bois. These come from nearby Saint-Georges-sur-Cher. Not all the vines in this part of Touraine are blitzed in this way but far too many are, including a significant area in Saint-Georges. I thought napalm went out when the Americans left Vietnam!
'How awful! Readers need to know that the grapes harvested in these vineyards are full of chemicals that you'll find in the wines.
Read last year study published by PAN: www.pan-europe.info/Resources/Briefings/Message_in_a_bottle_Results.pdf
In fact since there is no life in the juice coming from these grapes more chemicals need to be added to it in the cellar in order to make it an alcoholic beverage. And lets call it what it is: a manufactured alcoholic beverage not wine. We are all responsible for this: the conventional winemaker for having the pretention of making wine; the natural winemakers for not being able to speak with one voice on the matter; the consumer for believing that what he is buying is wine and the critics, the "professionals" for making a living on these lies.
Enough! Who are we kidding here?'
Although there have been criticism of the Pan-Europe research – see Jamie Goode's Wine Anorak piece, it is surely clear that blitzing the vines in this manner will not be acceptable for much longer nor does it make any sense in the medium or long term. This is not a sustainable practice – period! With their root systems mainly on the surface, these vines are highly unlikely to produce good fruit – if supplying the local cooperative that may, perhaps, not be a consideration with volume more important for the grower than quality. The local ecosytem will have been destroyed and the vines likely to require multiple treatments to counter various diseases and pests. Furthermore what is the point of encouraging wine tourism if the vineyards look like this?
Over the last 20 years the area of vines around Epeigné-les-Bois has reduced very considerably and, although it is sad to see vineyards disappear if they are only viable if an arsenal of chemicals are used then perhaps it is time to admit defeat and recognise that they are neither profitable or sustainable.
This, of course, doesn't just apply to this small corner of Touraine weedkillers are used in many parts of France and other parts of the world. My impression, however, is that their use is much less prevalent in Italy and Germany. Once again the fault is not solely the producers but all the way down the supply chain: from the négociant who pays little for the grapes or must they purchase, the buyer – often for a supermarket but not invariably, and the consumer who buys cheap wine especially the buy-one-get-one-free. These blitzed vineyards are the inevitable consequence of the desire to have cheap wine. Here journalists/wine writers have a responsiblity to alert the consumer to the consequences of buying wine at prices which is too low to permit sustainable viticulture.