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2008 Christmas letter

2003 Christmas letter

2002 Christmas letter

2001 Christmas letter

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  2003 Christmas letter   



Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and clients,

There was a time, and that not very long ago, when our fellow winemakers of Bordeaux, including their Mayor, Mr Juppé, sincerely believed that the wine of Bordeaux was no longer meant for the French, who, apparently, could not afford it any more!

This was at a time when they were reaping the benefits of the French Paradox, that is, the period in the nineties when American scientists had discovered the beneficial effects on the human body of red wine consumed in moderation.

The governments of some Asian countries had managed to turn this research to advantage in an effort to divert the habit of excessive consumption of hard liquor towards wine, and that had lit up the courtyards of Bordeaux like never before, creating a new age of gold in the long history of this prestigious wine region.

A little later on, Danish scientists extended these studies, proving, contrary to the views of the French experts who (suffering from cold feet) spoke reticently of a glass or two per day, that it is by drinking in the order of three to five glasses of wine a day that one improves one's chances of having a long life.

Furthermore, as a result of positive publicity on the subject, Denmark is today the only non wine-producing country which exceeds the consumption of the Latin wine-producing countries (more than Spain, 36 l per person per year).

During the same period, successive French governments had undertaken, under the guise of road safety, an anti-alcohol crusade which turned, as is easily demonstrated, into a deceitful and active anti-wine crusade and, unfortunately but all too predictably, led to a shocking increase in alcoholism, thanks to strong alcohol imported in a blaze of publicity from all around the world.

The determination to wipe out the remains of Latin culture on the part of the wet blankets who govern us seems without limit. As recently as this month on the 1 pm news on TV, the question of setting the permitted blood alcohol level of drivers at 0 was debated, even while it was noted that in England, it is 0.80 gr. But nobody added that it is that country which has the lowest rate of road deaths, because that would have been an argument in favour of aligning oneself with a norm which does not resemble a stupid witch hunt.

These debates continue to be disquieting: the psychologist interviewed put forward a sledgehammer argument: young people going out in the evening would not accept being unable to have even one beer!

However, not one of the debaters managed to say that this situation will prevent each and every gastronomic driver, already criminalised by the norms which are currently undermining the French Art of Living, from drinking a glass of wine at mealtime. But then, are there in fact any gastronomes left in France? Or is our only pleasure now the obligatory joint and high of a Saturday night? And are there no potential thugs and murderers left, apart from the family father, still able to afford to treat his family to a meal in a restaurant on Sundays, and who has had some wine at the establishment of a restaurant owner who has been promised a reduction in the VAT rate?

Have the President of the Republic and his Ministers heard the news that, yet again, in just one night in October, 14 vehicles were destroyed by fire in Strasbourg, and have they forgotten that their electors certainly would like a little more strictness and order and perhaps fewer overzealous breathalyser tests, but above all, a few more freeways, high speed trains, waterways and, finally, a real-world politics which puts fewer trucks on the roads every day. In Alsace, the disappointments, even the damages, are great, because our Minister of Transport, Mr De Robien, has managed only to set the Rhône to Rhine canal project under way, the freeway to Strasbourg is not yet complete, the high speed railway will end at Lorraine and the airport of the European capital is linked only in sporadic fashion to the other capital cities of Europe.

Do our elected representatives realize that while restrictions converge on us from all sides, entire slabs of our viticultural economy are disintegrating? Numbers of wine makers of Bordeaux (for there are not only Grands Crus) have already gone into voluntary administration, and in some other French viticultural regions the same phenomenon is insinuating itself, because sales to the internal market are inexorably dropping, and exports are faltering.

Today no-one knows how to reclaim the French market, where the consumption of wine is ever decreasing and where, in addition, interest in the wines of the New World is growing.

Without wanting to be a prophet of doom, I think that French viticulture, not to mention the hospitality industry, is only just entering the dark tunnel of a looming recession ...

It is fortunate that the excellent 2003 vintage and the suitability of its volume of production have come partly to the rescue of a situation which has got off to a bad start and is politically entirely irresponsible.

The year 2003 will have been distinguished by incredible precociousness, heat and sunshine. To give some comparative measure, the last wine harvest recorded in the month of August in Alsace dates back to 1540.

The endemic summer drought seriously limited volumes while causing damage to quality only in a few areas of shallow soil, which were therefore exposed to a dramatic lack of water.

However, and in general, the 2003 vintage will be of a flawless quality, even the acidification of the juice was necessary only in exceptional cases, and is in any case prohibited in Late Harvest and Sélections de Grains Nobles wines (noble rot great classified wines).


I would like to end this note, hoping to hear your news, by telling you of my site the success of which speaks for itself, with a hundred visitors per day, consisting, for the most part, of foreign Web users. If you have the time, take a look at it. There, you can get ideas for Christmas presents and business gifts, as well as learning about Seppi's Sunday harvests, which take place with a cosmopolitan group of as many as a hundred people. At times, when the weather is really good, the rural meal taken in amongst the vines takes up nearly as much of the day as the harvesting...


            Thank you for your confidence and loyalty.

Happy festive season, and my best wine-tinged wishes for 2004.

Your winemaker, Seppi Landmann