Wine for Thought

Hi, I'm Veronique Raskin and I am the founder & CEO of The Organic Wine Company. My blog is mostly about organic wine & self-development, as well as anything else that interests and inspires me!

In Praise of the French Culture – The French Heart

Dear Friends,

Typically, I am highly critical of us, the French, for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons was made famous by Christine Lagarde (first female Minister of French Finance and first female Director of the International Monetary Fund), During her interview on 60 Minutes she recited from her speech at the Assemblee Nationale in Paris that, “France is a country that thinks too much. We have in our libraries enough to study for centuries to come. Enough thinking, already. Let’s roll up our sleeves.” Yes, some of us often mistake whining for constructive action… whining is time consuming, but alas it is not the same as action.

Needless to say, she caused quite the uproar at the French Parliament, and the indignation spread quickly throughout the country. How dare she say that about we French?  American people on the other hand tend to suffer from the opposite tendency: they often act before they think. What can one say except that no culture or nation is perfect.

On a lighter note, back to the French. Inaction often facilitates relaxation and  pleasure, clearly a priority in French culture and in many others. Hence, among other things, the reason why the French love to buy, prepare, cook and eat good food, make wines that last for many years and share them leisurely with family and friends… but not everybody gets the point.

A few years back, I found myself am evemthere in the San Francisco Bay Area: there I was, on my best behavior, in a room full oF people who were clearly very impressed with themselves.   Recognizing the wine buyers of a big retail chain in the crowd and I went up to them, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, expecting to get a warm smile in return. I asked them about their recent trip through the South of France where  I knewthey had been treated like kings.

To my amazment they responded with a frown and a yawn, “Oh goodness!” said one of these big wigs, “It was actually more of a drag. All that good food and wine, every day, twice a day, my gosh, our hosts went out of their way to get the best food for us but it really gets old fast! [sic]” Talk about an unimaineable  conversation stopper!! Before I knew it, my eyes had filled up with tears.  I knew all these hosts personally and I could just imagine them running around their kitchens, taking such pride in what they do. I could see them putting together the best of the best: goose preserves matched with their best wines, all for their American guests…. and to have them publically ridiculed made me sad if not sick.

I was too shocked at that moment to say anything but I vowed that I would one day honor this French hospitality. The French style of sharing is unequalled and it as close as one can get to an art form. Thus, imagine my joy when read a piece written by Sam Brown one of my friend’s, Paul Chartrand’s, disributors. He had traveled to France for the Millesime Bio 2012 and subsequently visited a number of family wineries.

As I read his blog, I found myself tearing up again but this time from joy and gratitude.  This man understood the spirit of the whole thing. This man got it and appreciated it, whatever it was.

I agree with Christine Lagarde, the French think too much.  On the other hand,  there are a few things that the French do right and entertaining with all of our heart and soul is one of them.   I wanted to show you this wonderful piece that will take you right to the South of France… right into the home of one of the pioneers of the organic wine movement and a maker of some superb wines in the Bordeaux area, Mr. Boudon.

Jacques Frelin
Jacques Frelin

Next and while we are on the topic of appropriate pride, here is what journalist Howard Hewitt had to say about another two remarkable men: Jacques Frelin andThierry Julien. Jacques is an old friend and supporter and without his tireless efforts and persistence there may not be organic wines in America or France for that matter. Thierry Julien is current president of L’AssociationInterprofessionnelle des VinsBiologiques(A.I.V.B.) and the owner of Mas de Janiny winery.  He is the maker of the Mas de Janiny Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  He has been instrumental in the development of organic viticulture globally.  Howard told me that meeting these two men was the highlight of his trip.  He understood their spirit and their passionand that made me very happy, indeed.  Below is Howard’s account of what took place.

 Last but not least, guess what?! After thirty years the European Union has finally decided that there is such a thing as an “organic wine” (or vin biologique, as we say in France). Fancy that!  What I started bringing to this country some thirty years ago actually exists! Recent legislature allows these wines made with certified organic grapes (and a minimal amount of added sulfites) to be labeled as “Organic Wine” in the European Union… this is a category that includes  all of the wines  that we, The Organic Wine Company, represent .

For all these years, it has been a somewhat surreal experience to be promoting and selling a product that everyone knew existed but didn’t in the eyes of the law.  It was sort of like being a ghost.  Indeed, for the last thirty years, everyone referred to these wines as “vin bio” but the only thing that really existed in France were “wines made with organically grown grapes”.

I hope you will pass these stories along to your friends and help celebrate some of my personal heroes: Jacques Frelin the Julien brothers, my grandfather and my brother who converted our family’s estate to organic viticulture a long time ago. This month, in honor of these organic pioneers, we’ve decided to feature their wines.  Take some time out to enjoy our Mas de Janiny Cabernet Sauvignon, our Cotes du Ventoux and our Chateau Bousquette Tradition!  Don’t forget to hop on to our new, dynamic home page!


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This entry was posted on October 24, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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