Monday, 7 February 2011

Millisime Bio - organic wine

The first time I went to Millisime Bio was in 2005. I remember it clearly as I was there for only a couple of hours, not wanting to taste too much as I was pregnant. But that was fine because it was a small, cosy little salon, not quite fitting the expo hall in Narbonne. 175 tables of mainly french wines, with a few interlopers from Spain and Italy.

Fast forward to 2011, and Millisime Bio has blossomed into a lively, vibrant fair of around 500 exhibitors and now takes place in 2 of the halls in Montpellier exhibition centre. Despite its size, it still retains its friendly atmosphere and visitors are encouraged to discover wines from different countries. To this end, there is no order to the arrangement of stands with Italian wine producers next to a Burgundian who is next to the lady from Rioja etc. I can't help feeling that although the spirit of this arrangement is admirable, it must be irritating to the buyer who only wants to taste wines from the countries on his patch and has to trawl through the catalogue to find them. The lack of fancy, show-off stands is refreshing - each producer has exactly the same size of table, a white tablecloth and 2 chairs, allowing visitors to focus on the wines.

France has by far the most number of exhibitors but Chile, South Africa, Argentina and the US were also represented. The Languedoc-Roussillon had the largest representation of all regions, not surprising given that the fair originated in the Languedoc and has always been held here. Also, the region has the most organic producers (798 and 5% of the total vineyard area) and the rate of conversion to organic is impressive with a 52% rise in the acreage of vineyards certified as organic from 2008-2009.

So much for the stats - what about the wines? Well I was only there for a day and, in the spirit of the fair, tried to taste from different regions and from estates I didn't know. Highlights were some deliciously nutty, fresh whites based on Greco and Fiano from Colli Della Murgia in Puglia. And tasting at Jean-Marc Brocard where we shamelessly cherry-picked from the extensive range and tasted Village to wonderfully minerally Grand Cru Chablis.

Closer to home, notable were the latest releases from Pech-Redon in La Clape, an estate of which I am very fond. l'Epervier and Les Cades both have the most enticing, garriguey aromas. Domaine Virgil Joly offered an instructive vertical tasting of ten vintages of Virgile rouge. I also had the pleasure of retasting wines from two old friends in St Chinian, Catherine Wallace from Combebelle and Patricia Bettoni from Domaine Les Eminades.

I had never come across Domaine de Sainte Marie des Pins before, a small domaine near St Hilaire and Limoux, but was impressed with her creamy, nutty chardonnay. Allegria was another new discovery, a new venture and the result of a Franco-Argentinian collaboration. A competent range in a modern style. A table d'hote amongst the vines is planned from May and I plan to check it out.

I really enjoy this wine fair. Next year, I'll make sure to go for 2 days to do it justice.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy very much attending to such wine tasting festivities and exhibitions, being is search for new rich flavors.