Hermione visit makes waves – and money – at Bordeaux

Hermione visit to Bordeaux

Hermione at sea
Photo: www.hermione.com

Hermione fever seems to be growing if the frigate’s recent visit to Bordeaux is anything to go by.

Many thousands were present at Rochefort just over a month ago when the recently-finished replica of the ship that took General Lafayette to America in 1780 went off for its sea trials.

Now its six-day stay in Bordeaux has also attracted massive crowds. Continue Reading →


Wine harvest 2014 – a good vintage?

GrapesPhew! It looks like the wine vintage of 2014 will be a good one – but it’s been a close run thing. If you spoke to a wine-grower back in August the mood would have been grim. A capricious summer which began with a a stormy June and July with often devastating hailstorms gave way to cool dull August. The grapes on the wine, both red and white, were slow to mature, and it was looking like an ordinary vintage for a third year in a row (last year gave the lowest yield of white grapes in 22 years in the cognac-making areas around Cognac).

But then came a ‘miraculous’ September – day after day of sunshine with temperatures in the mid-high twenties. And now things are looking much better. The white grapes have been all but harvested, the picking starting 10 days earlier than last year. In cognac country, where hailstorms destroyed many hectares of vines, growers are grateful that the grapes, made juicier by the hot sun, are expected to produce between 140 and 150 hectolitres of pure alcohol per hectare.

The red wine harvest is still going on – merlot’s done but cabernet sauvignon is still to go – but it’s also looking good. And it needs to. Two years of average vintages has seen bordeaux lose share both in France and overseas. An excellent vintage may be just the thing to reverse the trend. Let’s hope it’s a vintage to remember.


Slap a Banker!

slap_a_bankerEver felt like giving your bank manager more than a few angry words? Then raise your glass to Églatine Clément and Aurelién Camandone, who have just created a beer called ‘Slap a Banker’ in a not so light-hearted jibe at their bank for turning down their request for a loan.

The two young locals started their artisanal brewery, called La Débauche, in Angoulême just over a one year ago. Selling white, brown, black and other speciality beers – nine in total – it has been incredibly successful. Their turnover has more than doubled in the year, from 5000€ in the first few months to €14,000 now, and despite producing 350 hectolitres a year are struggling to keep up with demand. ‘If we could produce 50% more now, it would sell immediately,’ says Aurelién. Their clients are across France. ‘We’ve even had interest from Italy,’ says Églatine.

To be able to produce more, and grow the business, the pair requested a 100,000€ loan but have been repeatedly turned down by the bank. Reasons for the refusal have ranged from their youth to the fact that Aurelién rents his home. ‘But that has nothing to do with the business,’ they say.

To get round the problem with the bank the pair have turned to the idea of crowd-funding, launching a funding project called ‘Paie ta curve’ on the site ulule.com – ‘Slap a Banker’, label pictured above, is their great publicity stunt. So far they have raised almost €5000. Cheers!