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Sparkling Wine critics

Without the freedom to blame, there is no flattering praise said Beaumarchais in the marriage of Figaro. A motto that the general and specialized press does not seem to have adopted. It is very rare, if not impossible, to find a negative review of a wine or a champagne in the press. Not that journalists and other tasters do not come across bad wines from time to time, but the custom in the community is that we only talk about the vintages that we love and that we superbly ignore the wines. other. The guides do not do otherwise, and a vintage below a certain rating (usually 13/20) does not appear in the guide. After all, why not, shouldn't the journalist-tasters shine the spotlight on fine vintages rather than dwelling on what is less successful ? But we can also wonder about the transparency vis-à-vis the reader who will wonder if the cuvée is missing from the newspaper or the guide because it has not been tasted or because it has not satisfied to the criteria of excellence of the taster, which is not at all the same thing. Finally, they help their readers to choose the right champagnes, but not to avoid the bad ones.


Champagne Info or entertainment ?


However, everything is not to be thrown into the world of the wine press. The best example is Le Point, whose austere files betray the rigor with which they were produced. Jacques Dupont, the journalist at the head of this column, leads tasting campaigns that immerse him in the heart of a terroir for several weeks. He tastes all the vintages with a professionalism that commands respect. Another signature of confidence: Michel Bettane who signs in L’Express often fascinating positions. But on the other hand, we will also find in this title "Special Champagne" pages which are more akin to advertising and editorial devoted to bubbles than to a real critical and journalistic exercise. The same goes for the culinary press, which alternates the best and the worst, with fascinating reports in the cellars of the big names in wine, and the Shopping pages. Finally, there is the specialized press like the Revue du Vin de France, the magazine Gault et Millau or the Revue Vignerons, which devote long pages to those who make wine, but are careful not to judge them.


The double game of champagne houses


For their part, the producers should not be exempt from all reproach, and the champagne houses even less than the others. By surrounding their cuvées with an important marketing dimension, by increasing the number of boxes and partnerships with creators, personalities or people, they shift the debate from tasting to starification. A game to which journalists, consciously or not, sometimes lend themselves too readily. Finally, there is advertising. We know without publicity, most press titles could not exist. And among the advertisers of the wine world, champagne takes the lion's share. The good financial health of the northernmost vineyard in France allows it to buy dozens of pages of advertisements in magazines, especially at Christmas time. It is for this same reason that the end-of-year "Special champagne" numbers exist, more than informing or helping to choose a champagne they are intended to bring in advertising pages and money. Then it is difficult for this same press to bite the hand that feeds it.