Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cave Cooperative - a new future

Like many Cave Cooperetives in the region, Aspiran's has been in decline. Wine hasn't been bottled for pushing a decade, no doubt because a massive investment in wine making equipment is required to make wine to modern standards. It hasn't always been like that. 1957 saw the first, at least for a Languedoc cooperative, Vaslin horizontal presses installed (replaced in 1975). As recently as 1988 was another first when a Bucher pneumatic press was acquired.

There are similar stories in the area. The cooperative at nearby Caux closed several years ago and is already a decaying building - the grapes go down the road to Les Caves Molière at Pézenas. Nizas has a similar tale.

The trend has been for cooperatives to combine to create even greater economies of scale, but there are notable local exceptions. Fontès and Cabrières seem to be doing well and certainly do better at marketing. Fontès boasts the best rosé in the area and a new customer reception salon has been constructed this year. Cabrières uses their reception space to host art exhibitions and has managed to maintain a reputation for its wine. Further south at Florensac a light and airy tasting and sales space has been created with an excellent and popular attached restaurant Bistro d'Alex serving their wine at near retail price. Neighbour Adissan has more land suited to growing Clairette and their bottles line the shelves of the regions supermarkets. Much will also be supplied to make Noilly Prat in Marseillan (my blog entry is here).

Nevertheless, things are looking up for the grape growers of Aspiran to obtain a higher price. Between 1963 and 2003 eight villages, including Nébian and Paulhan on the Aspiran side of the river Hérault, combined to produce wine under the Clochers et Terroirs branding. An enormous modern facility at Puilacher now makes all the wine and at last the Aspiran cooperative has joined them. The cooperative building survives for now as the harvested grapes are still received and have their stems removed before being tankered off to Puilacher.

To buy Clochers et Terroirs wines visit the marketing suites at Nebian and Paulhan.

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