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OFFBEAT

France scoops world blind wine-tasting prize

France won the world blind wine-tasting competition for teams, unseating reigning champion Belgium on Saturday

France scoops world blind wine-tasting prize

The annual event, launched last year, was held in the eastern French town of Ay and drew four-member teams from 18 countries, including Spain, China, Russia and Argentina.

The teams, blind-tasting fine wines from around the world, had to identify their countries of origin, the grape varieties used in them, their appellations and their vintages.

The winning team of Jean-Michel Perrussan, Eddy Gautier, Didier Sanchez and Pierre Citerne all came from the southern Toulouse region.

"Very often the first impressions given by the nose or the robe (colour) put us on the right track," said team leader Perrussan.

"Then we have to begin the process of elimination," said the 53-year-old radiologist who trains once a week to blind-taste wines.

Philippe de Cantenac, a journalist for the French wine monthly that organised the event, said the third championships would be held next October at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, near the southern city of Avignon and famed for its distinctive red wine.

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FARMING

Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts

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