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I shudder at the opinion of Michael Mondavi, who doesn't want to make wine--he's in a "luxury-goods industry" ("Wine war," Cover Story, Sept. 3). Biodiversity is an issue in the environmental debate: Diversity is at risk when New World marketing techniques are used to brand and market a product that has an "authenticity value" linked to soil, climate, grape variety, traditions, and winemaker. How would a New World Chteauneuf du Pape be labeled? Grenache-Syrah-Mourvdre-Cinsault-Cunoise-Carignan (plus some other possible varieties)? These complex great wines could become extinct when marketing gurus take over.
Mark De Mey
As an Italian, I am astonished that in six full pages your five journalists make not a single reference to Italian wines, although the table accompanying the story clearly shows that Italy is the biggest exporter to the U.S., and in the past three years it has fared better than, for example, Chile.
France is the land of paradox. You buy a half-decent bottle of wine, go back for a second some time later, and it's nowhere near as good. I have lived in France for 10 years, and I have given up trying to buy decent wine at a decent price. I only wish I could find even a moderate selection of New World wines on the Carrefour shelves.
Worldwide business may justifiably be the last objective of our French wineries. Keeping alive a family tradition, cultivating a local, deeply rooted artisanat may well be as noble a task as making millions out of the sacred grape. I think there is room for these two worlds, but we need to respect each one. Business in itself is not a goal: It may only serve as a tool to promote an underlying passion. And wine in France is just that, passion.
"Wine war" should have focused more on wine culture, especially when wine stores in the U.S. get more of their revenues from wines preserved in plastic gallons. The topic of wine was a good one for the summer but the article tasted "corked."
Lille-North of France Agency
It is only in nations where a Big Mac with a Coke is considered a "meal" that one can think that selling single grape varietals is an "advantage" over geographically defined labels. The trend of single grape varietals might lead to an absurd "commoditization" of a product where historical and/or cultural trends are supposed to be an integral part of the consumers' pleasure.
Rio de Janeiro
"Wine war" very precisely states why and how our local wine industry is failing to adapt to the global competition, and demonstrates the need for a classic exercise in thinking "outside the box." This requires boldness and competitive collective decision-making.
Living in Bordeaux since 1991, I can only add that some local individuals are bold, but group work simply can't work. It's known locally as esprit de clocher--"church spire spirit," in a sense. And this is definitely not our nicest postcard of La Belle France.
American wines of better quality are generally highly overpriced in comparison with good-quality French, Italian, and Spanish wines. A visit to any better-class wine merchant in Manhattan--or even a middle-class supermarket in Los Angeles--will quickly prove that point. In Europe, the same rule applies. There remains the matter of taste: The majority of American and Australian reds taste heavier than those of their European competitors on the Continent. When it comes to whites, non-Euro wines tend to lack the dryness and delicate bouquet of the Europeans.
London "Japan must make peace with its past" (Editorials, Sept. 3) falsely asserts that Japan has neither accepted nor apologized for its actions during World War II. Japan, on many occasions, has acknowledged its role in the war and apologized for its actions.
In 1995, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama made a statement representing the Japanese government's official position, in which he expressed "feelings of deep remorse" and stated "heartfelt apology" for Japan's wartime behaviors. On Aug. 13, the day of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, Koizumi stated: "During the war, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. On behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to express my feelings of profound remorse and offer sincere mourning to all the victims of the war."
Japan believes, as Prime Minister Koizumi stated, that it "must never again proceed [down] a path to war." Recognizing this, and with feelings of deep remorse for the atrocities of the war, we are committed to further endeavors to build friendly and constructive relations with neighboring countries.
Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York I thoroughly enjoyed "How well does Wal-Mart travel?" (The Corporation, Sept. 3). There is still a lack of consistency in business approach and recognition that Europe acts different from the U.S. It's time to recognize that we are not all donkeys down here when it comes to doing business. We have a saying here that donkeys in general do not hit their head twice at the same stone. It seems Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has recognized this--after 10 years of international expansion.