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Expert Opinon : The Outsiders, a success story for UK wine exportation

Par Vitisphere Le 18 octobre 2010
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Expert Opinon : The Outsiders, a success story for UK wine exportation
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xpert Opinon : The Outsiders, a success story for UK wine exportation

It sounds a bit like a joke: there was an Englishman, a Frenchman and an American…but then it goes on, and others get involved - a Swiss, a Swede, a New Zealander…and many more. What The Outsiders have in common is that they all came to Languedoc-Roussillon to live out their winemaking dreams. British expat Louise Hurren is a PR with a difference: she specialises in wine and English-speaking markets. She recruited The Outsiders group and then put her contacts with UK importers, buyers and press to good use.

Some of the Outsiders have previously worked in the wine industry, either selling it (like Katie Jones from Domaine Jones in Maury, Fenouillèdes, or Catherine Wallace from Château de Combebelle, in Saint-Chinian) or producing it, somewhere else for someone else ; the others were communication gurus in the UK (Sir John Hegarty of Minervois domaine Hegarty Chamans and noted orator at the recent Masters of Wine Symposium in Bordeaux), or were working for Merrill Lynch in New York until they lost their jobs and homes after 9/11 (Jonathan and Rachel Hesford from Domaine Treloar in Trouillas, Roussillon).

Not all of them are foreigners, but all of them have come to Languedoc from elsewhere – like the bordelais who now own La Clape's Château d’Anglès (Eric Fabre, previously of Château Lafite, and his son Vianney), or the founder of Faugères' Domaine Cébène (Brigitte Chevalier, formerly head of export for Jean-Luc Thunevin in Saint-Emilion). All have an innovative approach to winemaking - like Hildegard Horat-Diop, who bottles her wines at La Grange de Quatre Sous under the IGP Pays d’Oc label, so she can experiment with varieties like Malbec and Cabernet Franc, or Petite Arvine from her native Switzerland ; like Jan and Caryl Panman of Château Rives-Blanques in Limoux, the first French estate to be granted agriculture raisonnée status, or Deborah and Peter Core from Mas Gabriel near Pézénas, who farm their vines according to biodynamic principles. Some make great use of the internet, like the O’Connells of O’Vineyards near Carcassonne, while others place a certain emphasis on the feminine side that distinguishes themselves and their wines – witness Lidewij van Wilgen and her daughters at Mas des Dames.

With their striking logo, tastings, good PR and trade contacts and a presence on social networking sites, notably Facebook, the Outsiders project is certainly going places.
 

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