Of all the family suppliers we have, perhaps the most remarkable is that of Michel Picard. Just over forty years ago they were a small company based in Chagny, mainly selling table wine to local restaurants; now they are the second largest wine and spirit group in Burgundy.
It is not so long ago that the Viognier was one of the rarest white grape varieties in the world. As recently as 1968, the French grape census recorded that there were only 35 acres of it planted and they were restricted to just a few villages south of Lyons, at the northern end of the Rhône vineyards.
It was not so long ago that everybody had a small vintage card, not just to see what were the good vintages for each region, but, perhaps more importantly, what were the bad ones. Now with modern treatments in the vineyard a bad vintage is a true rarity and even in the most disappointing of years you can find good bottles.
I have just spent four days studying, and tasting, at the German Wine Academy, which, this year, took place at Freiburg at the heart of the vineyards of the Baden wine region. I must admit that, whilst I enjoy them, German wines are not one of my strong points and this was an opportunity for me to catch up on latest developments.