Glass tulip in hand, passing through Bordeaux, this morning of February 2017, it is day of blind tasting for the candidate of En Marche to the presidential election. The banker enarque cantor of a start-up urban nation, a bit white-billed, able to detect the terroirs of a single sip? The actors in the wine sector Emmanuel Macron comes to meet in the capital of oenology are hardly illusions.
The managing editor of Terre de vins ("magazine defender of the wines") plays the masters of ceremonies. White, first. The favorite of the polls plunges his nose into the cup, inspires the first nose of the golden beverage. Quickly, he caught his breath and pronounced the verdict, sure of himself: "There, it's an Entre-Deux-Mers". He goes back there, inhales the second nose, tastes the liquid that rolls in his mouth. "Very lemony, acidic, clayey. "His taste buds are trained: this château Lauduc 2015, bordeaux superior, comes from the terroir identified. For the rosé (Château Vignelaure 2015, hillsides of Aix en Provence) as the red (a Bordeaux wine, Château Pape Clément 2005, Pessac-Léognan, Cru Classé de Graves), Emmanuel Macron just falls. The little world of viticulture blushes with pleasure. This is just the beginning.
The soon-to-be President takes the opportunity to confide in the genesis of this Gaulish tropism. "I was raised by my grandparents who had this formula: Red wine is an antioxidant. There was no guilt. The vine growers widen their eyes. A meal without trellis juice? "It's a little sad," he concedes. Wine enlivens a meal. It is the possibility of discovering new aromas, new sensations. Obviously, you have to do it in moderation. But this is part of our civilization. "
The actors of the sector are drunk with joy. Finally an amateur! François Mitterrand had favored the vote of the regulation they abhor, the Evin law, framing the advertising of alcoholic beverages. Jacques Chirac drank only Corona, Nicolas Sarkozy Coca-Cola when Francois Hollande was interested in the vine in "normal French". Then the caps jump, the cups twirl when their champion is at the Elysee! They have, finally, their ambassador.
It ensures the development of the sector
This president, a Bordeaux wine lover, recently converted to the flavors of the Rhône, is precious to them in stormy weather. On Wednesday, the United States announces that it intends to hit European products with punitive taxes in retaliation for Union aid illegally paid to help Airbus. 25% on French wines! The Minister of Economy is illico sent to the front. "We want to lower tensions and avoid tariff penalties that will only hurt our two economies," says Bruno Mayor, denouncing an "economic and political error. "
This is not the first time the industry is in the Washington viewfinder. This summer, the American Trump, a lover of standardized soda, already threatens to increase the tariffs of the prosperous sector in retaliation for the taxes put in place on the digital giants? Emmanuel Macron spares no effort to compel him to back down. A compromise is outlined at the G 7 Biarritz a month ago.
Exporters of wines and spirits are not neglected either in the commercial agreements with Canada (Ceta) and the one planned with part of South America (Mercosur). No more customs duties on exports! The head of state is not kidding with this sector, flagship of the French economy, fruit of emblematic know-how. The numbers are turning heads: 13 billion euros in turnover, 500,000 jobs. The leading exporter of wine and spirits (two billion bottles pass the borders each year), France is the second largest producer in the world, behind Italy.
On the home front too, the president ensures the development of the sector. When their beloved bottles are targeted by public health professionals, first and foremost Minister Agnès Buzyn, the head of state sounds the end of the game with an unprecedented argument: "Me, I drink wine for lunch and the evening. " Understood? He and his wife are connoisseurs, the type to look at the labels of bottles they like, rather white (with ice) for Madame.
"Do not bother the French"
When they escape from the Elysee, addresses with good cellars are preferred. At Da Rosa, a chic canteen in the sixth arrondissement of the capital, Emmanuel Macron enjoys pecking at the charcuterie accompanied by Beaumes-de-Venise. The apostles of the new world are far from imitating it. Thus, restaurateurs who adjoin the places of power are sorry for the eating habits of this armada of Walkers eager to send healthy and light lunches. They are keen on water, flat or gas. The most iconoclastic dare light sodas that flourish good retail. They are far from having the preference of Emmanuel Macron.
Anecdotes flow to describe the taster who "always consumes in moderation," specify those who share his table. The bar of the Hotel Amigo, in Brussels, where the European meetings regularly end with informal glasses, shared with the German Merkel, the Luxembourger Bettel or the Italian Conte. At the end of official dinners, it is not uncommon to see the president offer his guests a digestive. Cognacs from 1914 were exhumed from the cellar of the Elysée (14,000 references), incubated by the sommelier Virginie Routis, for nine years.
Oenology is part of the arts of the table and has the good taste to bring back money. So last year, at the Salon de l'agriculture, the president insists. "I really believe in Georges Pompidou's formula: Do not bother the French. There is a scourge of public health when youth gets drunk at high speed with strong alcohol or beer, but it is not with wine … As long as I'm president, there will be no amendment to harden the Evin law. "
In early 2019, the Minister of Agriculture, Didier Guillaume, feels entitled to push the nail. The bottles will not be taxed to fight against the alcoholism of the young people. Why ? "Wine is not an alcohol like any other. "
Positions not in line with health policies
The world of viniculture is en-chan. Health professionals, they, look gray without being completely surprised. They saw Audrey Bourolleau, an agriculture adviser in the presidential cabinet, who had just been replaced, replaced by Paul Delduc in September. A line on her CV made them shudder: this Walker was a figurehead of the wine and society lobby. Above all, the president's speech amazes them. "His positions on his personal consumption are beyond what is recommended by the government, under the authority of the government! Bernard Basset, vice-president of the National Association of Prevention in Alcoholics and Addiction, said. In terms of quantity, the motto of the National Public Health Agency France is limpid: "Maximum two glasses per day and not every day. "
It is not surprising, however, for Liberal Macron to free himself from this state interference in private life. "His personal behavior is what he wants, admits Claude Evin, former Socialist Minister of Health. But it is fitting that its expression is in line with public health policy. The question is to be careful not to pass conflicting messages and to determine what is the priority of the general interest. "
Avenue Duquesne (Paris VIIe), where is the Ministry of Health, the subject is handled with great care. "The fight of Agnès Buzyn is alcoholism, not alcohol," insists his entourage. Translation: the problem is not related to the moderate consumption of amateurs of good bottles, but the addiction to drinks that intoxicate and wreak havoc. Is not alcohol one of the first causes of violence against women? In the past, the minister herself has taken a stand against easing the Evin law. It's not that she does not like wine – she drinks it! – but that the abuse causes a plethora of pathologies.
With the wine industry several flammable files
On his minister's desk, a thorny file is linked to it. It is an understatement that she is advancing slowly. The size of the "pregnant women" pictograms on bottles is the subject of bitter negotiations between Health and the actors in the sector. "The goal is to enlarge the logo to turn on an alarm, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is completely downplayed, the consequences for children are serious. One advances millimeter by millimeter. There is a tension on the subject, the idea is not to rush anyone but to act collectively responsibly, "says the ministry cautiously.
Another flammable issue: the bill introduced this summer by parliamentarians LREM to reintroduce alcohol in the stadiums. Today, only the privileged who frequent the VIP stands have the right to consume. Entrenched behind a circumspect neutrality, Agnès Buzyn will not support the text. All allow? All forbid? "This proposal has not been followed up. There is no desire to change the regulations, "says the Elysee. In the kingdom of Macron, freedom is sometimes consumed with moderation.