Donald Trump’s tweet today, au dessous will annoy many people, including me, who are forced to admit he is right. France and the rest of the EU do make it hard to sell American wines in France, and it’s easy for the French to sell wine to the Americans. I’ve a mate here who sells two million bottles a year in the USA and he drives a smart car and lives in a very big house.
Mr Trump is famously a teetotaler, yet he can in this instance be said to speak with some authority since he is the proud owner of the Trump Winery, near Charlottesville, Virginia. His latest intervention will doubtless be rapidly denounced as another conflict of interest, not to overlook an escalation of the Superbowl of superegos with his former pal Emmanuel Macron.
The wine produced by Mr Trump, or supposedly under the supervision of Eric, is compared by one taster to ‘Welch’s Grape Jelly with Alcohol,’ but it would be unfair of me to make a judgement. I have not tried it, and could not if I wanted to, since there is nowhere to buy it.
Truthfully, I would buy Trump wine if I could. Or Italian wine, Slovenian wine, Australian wine, Chilean wine, South African wine, even English wine (I kid you not, the climate change thing is working well for viticulture in southern England).
But Trump wine, Gallo Hearty Burgundy nor even the more refined products of the Napa and Sonoma valleys, are simply not available here, and neither is wine from anywhere else.
A horrible truth, excluding the products of Trump perhaps, is that American wine is often better, frequently hugely better, than the French stuff on the shelves of our local Super U.
For further elucidation on this particular point, I refer to the Judgment of Paris blind tasting in which French judges compared Chardonnays and reds and Californian wine won both, to French national embarrassment.
I have taken this issue up with Alain, who runs a high class wine shop in a nearby town, and told him I wanted Italian wine. He laughed. The French drink their own wine, he said, and have no need of others.
They are not offered a choice. The wine departments in British supermarkets offer customers wine from more or less everywhere. Consumers here in France (aside from a few rarified wine shops in the rarified quarters of Paris and the great cities), will see nothing not made in France.
Since I am newly aligned with your president and think much of the French wine industry is a racket, I should warn Mr Trump that the French, especially around here, have a history of responding violently to attempts to open the wine market. Trucks attempting to import table wine from Spain have been frequently attacked with their contents emptied on the motorways and a small bomb was exploded at a local Lidl when it briefly offered Spanish plonk.
So, good luck with this one, Mr Trump. On behalf of French consumers, I appeal to you to see this through. I will be pleased to judge for myself the merits of Château Trump, when I can buy it at Alain’s.
Jonathan Miller lives in southern France.