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Paris Diary: Wine Comes Before the Bill

Champagne Horse.jpgThere are some aspects of France that are more about the 19th century than the 20th, let alone the 21st. So it is in the small, friendly world of people who order wine directly from vignerons — in my most recent experience, a small maker in Champagne. He tills the soil around his vines with a rugged plowhorse (he believes the weight of a tractor compacts the earth, preventing its aeration), and he treats his vines and soil biodynamically, using natural elements — minerals and butterfly wings, no less — in accord with the phases of the moon. We visited last year, and when we sent in our order for a case of 12 bottles this year, the shipment arrived at our home on the day before the invoice. I have experienced this business practice with growers from all over France. Winemakers here seem to trust their customers. How lovely that there are still little parts of the world unsullied by people who don’t pay their bills.

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