You might recall my previous delight at discovering that there is an entire association of French towns with rude or silly names. And I tried to add to the wonderment of that discovery by sharing my favorite Languedoc-Roussillon town names like Saint Arnac (saint ripoff) and Conas (which sounds just like Connasse since we often pronounce S at the end of words in the south).
What I didn’t realize is that there was a wine cooperative in Saint Arnac. According to a friend who runs that Minervois Coop blog, the unfortunately named winery was founded in 1931. And the records he found show that they produced 2,594 hectolitres of “Corbières supérieurs du Roussillon” [sic]. Appropriate for a homophone of arnaque? Of course, that name isn’t SOOO wacky since the Corbieres do extend a little over the border between the Pyrenees Orientales and l’Aude. So it’s conceivable that these guys weren’t a bunch of arnaquers.
Either way, Saint Ripoff is no longer in business. The buildings have been taken over by a new association of winemakers but they rather intelligently chose to change the name to La Preceptorie de Centernach. Centernach doesn’t sound nearly as bad as Saint Arnac. Oh and here’s a cool flickr stream I found with a lot of photos of the harvest at La Preceptorie de Centernach.
Jancis just wrote a very cleverly titled article “11 into 33 does go” (you have to subscribe to read the whole thing). This is more than just a simple math question. It’s a reference to French department numbers. 11 is Aude (Languedoc) and 33 is Gironde (Bordeaux). And this article talks about the sad truth that nobody likes to discuss.
While tons of our region’s wine cooperatives flounder and go out of business, there are still some cooperatives and negociants with tankers pumping wine nearly 24/7. It makes you think that there’s a lot of hustle and bustle. But where is the wine going? And at what cost?
Well, a short inspection of the license plates reveals a lot. All the tankers filling up with Languedoc wine have license plates that read 33. Gironde. Bordeaux. It’s nearly impossible to prove what happens once the wine gets into the winery since the French classification system is almost 100% enforced by paper trail alone. But that’s where the wine is going. Or at least, that’s where the trucks came from.
I’m really happy to see a writer of Jancis’ level talking about this issue because it’s a real wine story. Not a lot of that in wine journalism today.