21 Sep 2018
The wine maps making waves in Bordeaux.
The maps are clear, pared down and extremely useful for getting technical information across in a graceful form, even if the gradual sweep of macro to micro gets a little repetitive when you’ve seen it for the tenth time. And this being Bordeaux, they are proliferating rapidly as châteaux realise that if their neighbours have one on their website, well they’d better have one too. All of which makes their creator, Pierre Le Hong, a man very much in demand. He has driven up from Tarbes that morning for back to back meetings around the Médoc, and is off to southern Graves after we finish, but he is full of energy, with a broad smile, closely clipped hair, orange-rimmed glasses pushed to the top of his head, matching coral peach trousers than manage to look Parisian chic rather than wine trade cliché, light blue shirt rolled up to the elbow with barely a crease in sight. From weather reports to diagrams of plane crashes to explanations of World Cup line ups, almost every major media outlet now employs graphic designers who are able to pull together the dizzying amount of information that we receive and turn it into bite sized, digestible digital infographics. ‘It struck me when I started coming to Bordeaux regularly in the late 1990s,’ says Le Hong over an espresso, one sugar, ‘how badly the châteaux were conveying what made them special’. He adds, ‘I remember how on visits they would say, “our vines are planted on gravel outcrops” and I would be thinking “where, I can’t see them?” ‘Or they would say “vines need extremely poor soils to grow” and I’m thinking “what does that mean? How can anything grow without water?” At the time, from 1998-2001, Le Hong was working in a Parisian press agency, specialising in infographics. But there are hints, notably with Château Montrose, of what can be achieved, and what information can be transmitted – not only soil types but flavour characteristics that come from them, and how they are used to blend a wine in a specific vintage. It will take more châteaux willing to open up this kind of data to start a real conversation with the next generation of wine lovers. Source – www.decanter.com