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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Côtes d'Auvergne: a few local eruptions.....

Stock photo of volcanic eruption at Tungurahua (Ecuador)

Some local tensions 
In common with a number of other French wine regions producers in the Auvergne appear to have problems working together for the collective good. This was highlighted by a news item in La Montagne when there was a change in the presidency of the Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne at the end of 2019. 

Yvan Bernard was président of the Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne from 2015 to 2019, when he resigned and was replaced by Gilles Vidal, an associate of Desprat Saint-Verny. It is unfortunate that the La Montagne article reports that there has long been strife between the independent vignerons and the members of the Saint-Verny Cooperative – now associates of Desprat Saint-Verny. 

Yvan is currently vice-président of Loire Volcanique – the association formed last year to promote the four Upper Loire appellations: Côtes d'Auvergne, Côtes de Forez, Côte Roannaise and Saint-Pourçain. Loire Volcanique should not be confused with  Vinora*, an organisation covering wines from around the world produced from vines planted in volcanic soils. Vinora was formed a few years ago with Pierre Desprat, who is its président, a leading player. It held its first conference and salon at the end of January 2020 at Clérmont-Ferrand.

Vidal is keen to end the disagreements and has as his two vice-presidents two independent producers: Benoît Montel in Riom and Pierre Goigoux, who has his own domaine but is also an associate of Desprat Saint-Verny. Goigoux was president of the Syndicat between 2011 and 2013, while Montel is president of the Fédération Viticole des Côtes d'Auvergne and Vidal is the vice-president of this organisation.

Yvan Bernard, ex-president Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne

Gilles Vidal, président
Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne

Benoît Montel
Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne

Pierre Goigoux

Syndicat AOC Côtes d'Auvergne

Unfortunately there is tension between Vinora and Loire Volcanique. Léa Desprat, daughter of Pierre, is critical of the name – Loire Volcanique – as from the four appellations involved Saint-Pourçain and Côte Roannaise do not have volcanic soils. Benoît Montel, vice-president of Loire Volcanique, says Loire and Volcanique are two separate entities. This seems to me to be too fine and subtle distinction and that most people will naturally assume that the soils of all four appellations are of volcanic origin. This is regrettable as I think the grouping of these four appellations makes sense, especially at present when a renaissance is underway in the Upper Loire. Perhaps a better name would be 'La Loire commence ici', although, of course, the source of the Loire is considerably further south. 

Regrettably there is almost no overlap between the producers involved in Vinora and Loire Volcanique as only Annie Sauvat is a member of both groups.

Côtes d'Auvergne members of Vinora: Clos Luern, Desprat Saint-Verny, La Tour de Pierre, La Croix Arpin (Pierre Goigoux), Domaine Gougis, Miolanne, David Pelissier, Domaine Sauvat (Annie Sauvat), Domaine Vincent Auzolle. 

Côtes d'Auvergne members of Loire Volcanique: Yvan Bernard, Domaine Charmensat, Benoît Montel, Gilles Persilier, Domaine Catherine & Roland Royet, Domaine Sauvat (Annie Sauvat), Domaine des Trouillères.

Agreed the two organisations have different objectives and scope but I would have thought that it made sense for members of Vinora to also be members Loire Volcanique.

Hopefully these conflicts can be resolved as the Côtes d'Auvergne and IGP Puy de Dôme are still among the least known Loire areas, although they do now have an following including internationally. They need to work together to promote their wines. Conflict and division is surely a luxury they can ill afford.

More details on the tensions see: La Montagne and Vitisphere 

*: David Cobbold, member of Les 5 du Vin, was at Vinora. Here are links to the  two articles he wrote on the event – here and here.   

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