Winemakers try to capture that 'nouveau' feeling

18th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 17 (AFP) - Think new wine and chances are you'll think Beaujolais nouveau, which flies off shelves across the world every autumn on a wave of carefully managed publicity, leaving other French grape-growing regions eager to get a piece of the "vin primeur" action.

PARIS, Nov 17 (AFP) - Think new wine and chances are you'll think Beaujolais nouveau, which flies off shelves across the world every autumn on a wave of carefully managed publicity, leaving other French grape-growing regions eager to get a piece of the "vin primeur" action.

Wines bearing that regulated tag are released on the third Thursday of each November and are described by their fans as fresh, soft and easy-drinking.

While the vin primeur -- or "first wine" -- from Gaillac in the southwest of France enjoys nothing like the international limelight of Beaujolais, it has begun to make inroads into the Paris market.

Its launch on Thursday was marked with a festival in Toulouse.

In the Loire Valley region of Touraine, some 60 winemakers released their version overnight, catering to a mostly local market.

Touraine's production, at about 600,000 bottles, has been falling over the last three years. At its best, this particular wine, based, like many primeurs, on the Gamay grape, sold a million bottles a year.

"For decades now, friends have got together every year to taste new wines with chestnuts," explained Laurent Thomieres, who heads the local wine industry association.

"We started marketing in 1978 when new wines came into fashion, but we have kept things steady, not wanting to compete with Beaujolais and because of concerns about quality," he added.

This year, the Touraine primeur is "more fruity and less alcoholic, with aromas of cherries and berries," he added.

One reason sales have fallen is that large supermarkets "are no longer interested in Touraine Primeur because production is small-scale," Jean-Pierre Gouvaze of the Touraine Wine Office told AFP.

In response, vintners began marketing directly, which helped boost sales.

The Touraine appellation covers two of France's departments: Indre-et-Loire and Loir-et-Cher. It includes the hillsides overlooking the Loire river and its tributaries, the Cher and the Indre.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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