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France fights back  

Tomorrow morning (Sunday October 9th), in addition to buying The Sunday Express (to catch my column), you should also be buying The Independent On Sunday. Why? Because it has a supplement titled Le Sunday Review, devoted to all things French. In particular, there is a section called Cracking Wine (pictured), in which 'some of the country's top wine journalists' (and me) select their favourite French wines available in the UK marketplace. 

It's an exercise we were asked to do for Sopexa, who ran the 'Absolutely cracking wines from France' tasting in September. Each journo had to recommend three wines (under 5.99, 6-9.99, and 10 and over). It's a hard call to pick just three. Reading through the choices, I get the strong impression that France might just be on the up.

For a while now the only stories we've been hearing about French wines have been gloomy. France is losing market share, their wines are uncompetitive, and producers have their heads in the sand, denying the mess they are in and refusing to modernize. 

But here we have a selection of really interesting wines at all price points. While I'm not suggesting that the French wine industry doesn't  have real problems, if France can do more of the same, then there's still some hope. And if France ever really gets its act in gear, then the new world producers are in for a hiding* - but we're a long way from that just yet. 

See also: French wine in crisis

*I guess this needs some explanation. My comment here relates to the fact that the classic European wine growing countries - such as France, Spain, Italy and Portugal - have huge areas under vine, and a wonderful diversity of growing regions and grape varieties. For example, Sicily has almost as much area under vine as the whole of Australia. If they could get their act together the potential for making huge volumes of interesting wine is awesome. 

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