Jacques Berthomeau - Wine is social, not elite, perfect for online communication

Jacques Berthomeau spoke at the Université de la Vigne et du Vin in 2011 in Ferrals les Corbieres.  This is a synopsis of his talk and my reaction to what he’s saying.  This is one post in an ongoing series about the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin.

In his typical way, Berthomeau presents a rambling but cohesive message about the opportunities the Internet provides to winemakers and wine drinkers alike.  It’s hard to take notes or outline this speaking style so just consult the video above if you want the most accurate portrayal of his talk.

If you’re short on time, here are some notes:

Starting with a joke about not being a tribun (somebody who gets on their soapbox frequently) like everybody from the Languedoc, Berthomeau sets the stage for a talk about identity.  Where is Berthomeau from?  And who is he?  For many people in the wine business, he’s the author of a famous report on French wine that was published about 10 years ago.  Often times, people talk about “le Rapport Berthomeau” which drives the man to say “My first name isn’t Rapport”.  So for many people, he’s just this old report commissioned by the ministry of agriculutre.  This report made him pretty unpopular because he and his colleagues made crazy claims like “women will drink wine too” and “we should adapt our communication and branding to new export markets”.

The Ministry pulled him off of all wine related projects, stuck him in a closet and put his report on a back catalog of some obsucre website on this thing called Internet.  Jacques started a blog and discovered that the closet he’d been placed in actually had a pretty far reach.

He goes on in his talk to explain that his blog works because he doesn’t cater to the wine elite.  He just tells fun stories peripherally related to wine, and lots of people want that.  People who aren’t obsessed with wine and who have no idea what mineralité means.

Berthomeau then agrees with a point in Juarez’s talk about how some winemakers will have to be at the head of the charge to bring notoriety to the Languedoc.  Previously in his presentation, he speaks about Embres & Castelmaure.  Toward the end, he mentions me and my little camera (very flattering).  And I would like to think I’m one of the lucky ones who carries the burden of representing this region to uninitiated (read: normal) wine drinkers.

Jacques Berthomeau, un auteur du rapport berthomeau

Jacques Berthomeau, Ferrals Les Corbieres 2011

There’s a digression about how wine drinking habits are shifting.  Even if French people drink less wine than they used to, there are different drinkers now that provide new opportunities.  Women.  People getting off of work and having a glass at a cafe to relax.  These ideas weren’t that common twenty years ago.  Wine has new ways of infiltrating our daily routines and it’s presumably up to the aforementioned leading voices to make sure that people think of our region when they’re looking for wine.

Berthomeau takes a moment to address the previous talks during the day.  Namely, noting that the new world didn’t invent industrialized or branded wine.  The French have been doing it for a while.  He talks about how young drinkers or new drinkers often start with simpler wines.  But he also mentions that even children are intelligent.  You often see kids playing incredibly complicated games or memorizing entire pantheons of pokemon or superpowers, so complexity in and of itself isn’t intimidating to people.  But wine has to capture the imagination before people are willing to learn all the complexities.

The Internet, to Berthomeau, is a cheap way to communicate with the grand publique and capture their imagination in a way that a Paris Metro billboard can never replace.  His advice quoted from Michel-Édouard Leclerc, “Durez, durez, durez”.  Tell your stories, create original content, be happy, be colorful, and little by little you’ll leave the closed community of wine professionals to reach real drinkers!

So don’t just listen.  Speak up!  If you’ve got an issue and you don’t want to start your own website, ask Berthomeau to publish your thoughts on his website, an espace libre!

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

O’Vineyards
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.
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