Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Organico ergo je fume* – I'm bio therefore I smoke

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AC Touraine vineyard blitzed with weedkiller 
– Loire UNESCO World Heritage site...

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I have a great deal of sympathy and respect for producers who chose to farm their vineyards organically or biodynamically. In the Loire an increasing number of producers are now choosing to convert to organic viticulture joining a significant number of their colleagues who have already made this decision.

Equally I deplore the use of weedkillers, especially when vineyards are totally blitzed, although I do understand the economic imperative in appellations, such as parts of Touraine, where wine fetches a low price. Here it isn't just the producer who bears a responsibility but also the commercial wine buyer and us wine consumers looking to buy very cheap wine.

So in no way is this a post knocking organic viticulture or its adherents. I am genuinely puzzled and astonished that so many organic wine producers smoke. Producers who wouldn't dream of poisoning their vineyards appear to think nothing of lighting up and poisoning themselves. 

It is not as though the health risks of smoking are not widely known. My guess is that at least as much research has been done into the effects of smoking as they have into the use of weedkillers. Smokers in the 1940s and 1950s could argue that they didn't know the seriously increased health risks that smoking brings. Today this is no longer possible.

My question 'why do fervent organic wine producers smoke?' was brought into sharp focus when I recently visited friends and family of the late Charly Foucault, who died of lung cancer at the end of December 2015 aged 68.  I am pretty confident that if Charly hadn't smoked he would still be alive today.

I was shocked that despite Charly's death from smoking a number of his friends and family still smoke. You would imagine that Charly's fate would be more than enough to shock them into giving up smoking before it is too late. Apparently not!

Back in January 2016 I posted a similar reflection on Jim's Loire here.

Do the strains and stresses associated with organic viticulture drive its producers to seek relief in smoking? Is smoking more prevalent amongst organic wine producers than amongst those who practise conventional viticulture?

Your thoughts are most welcome.

* Abject apologies to René Descartes for trashing his famous dictum.

Chinese cap

1 comment:

Graham said...


It is indeed odd. I have the impression that smoking in rural areas is perhaps commoner than in many at least middle class urban areas and perhaps more common in France than in the UK, but does anyone know what the stats on this are?