Vino BusinessIsabelle Saporta Kate Deimling
3 March 2016
Published by Grove Press
5 November 2015
Published by Grove Press
For centuries a bastion of tradition and the jewel in the crown of French viticulture, Bordeaux has in recent years become dogged by controversy, particularly regarding the 2012 classification of the wines of St.-Émilion, the most prestigious appellation of Bordeaux’s right bank. St.-Émilion is an area increasingly dominated by big international investors, especially from China, who are keen to speculate on the area’s wines and land, some of whose value has increased tenfold in the last decade alone.
In the controversial 2012 classification, certain châteaux were promoted to a more prestigious class because of insider deals that altered the scoring system for the classification of wines into premier crus and grand crus. This system now takes into account the facilities of each château’s tasting room, the size of its warehouse, and even the extent of its parking lot. The quality of the wine counts for just 30% of the total score for the wines of the top ranking, those deemed premier grand cru classé A.
In Vino Business, Saporta shows how back-room deals with wine distributors, multinational investors like the luxury company LVMH, and even wine critics, have fundamentally changed this ancient business. Saporta also investigates issues of wine labelling and the use of pesticides, and draws comparisons to Champagne, Burgundy and the rest of the wine world. Based on two years of research and reporting, Vino Business draws back the curtain on the secret world of Bordeaux, a land ever more in thrall to the grapes of wealth.
Some sharp critiques and a few shocking revelations.
Wall Street Journal
Vino Business reveals the seedy business side of the romantic world of French wine.
Gossip as poisonous as pesticides, anonymous informants, rampant greed. . . the latest primetime TV drama? No, it's just St.-Émilion... A new book, Vino Business, by French journalist Isabelle Saporta, has caused a firestorm for its criticism of the French wine trade... If it's causing this much uproar... "it's because she put her finger on the sore spot."
Isabelle Saporta bases the book on a true investigation, field work that cannot be contested, work that many of her detractors, the people who snipe at her from behind their keyboards, would do well to be inspired by.
The author, investigative journalist Isabelle Saporta, doesn't hold back in questioning the French institutions and traditions that the country's wine industry prides itself on. She's also forthright in her writing on certain individuals. . . The book is a juicy read.
Judging by the reaction to its publication it seems that this book, which concludes that more transparency is needed regarding the fabrication and classification of these great wines, is asking the right questions.