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The world of fine wines lies at the frontier of two opposite domains. Is it a culture, only a culture – even an art, free and magical? Or is it a business and what kind of business?

As a luxury product coming from agriculture, fine wine is a specific object. Its history is deeply rooted in our Western way of life and can be told as a part of our civilization. But fine wines are also a product to be sold and marketed. How can we balance these two characteristics? Are they contradictory or synergic?

The current period is critical in the history of fine wines… Competition between the old and new wine world, big corporations and small independent producers, terroir and brand logics are more than ever under question.


At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Discuss with wine professionals using adequate vocabulary and understand the  major problems related to production, consumption, prescription and marketing of fine wines
  2. Identify the different business models and oenophile cultures in France and around the world.
  • Introduction to vine growing and wine making: notions of viticulture and winemaking applied to different types of wines: sparkling, dry white, red, sweet and fortified wines, rosé.
  • Introduction to wine tasting: method and vocabulary
  • The wine market today
  • Historical and economical background: evolution of wine production, exchanges and consumption worldwide.
  • Introduction to French wines segmentation and philosophy:
    1. The system of Appellations d’Origine
    2.  What does terroir refer to? Crus vs brand names
  • Bordeaux great growths: the lessons of history:
    1. What is a “château”?
    2. Bordeaux throughout the centuries
    3. The specific Bordeaux fine wines marketplace: Bordeaux wine merchants (Chartrons) and brokers
    4. The futures sales system: “en primeurs”
  • Champagne, a worldwide example of success:
    1. History of champagne wine making
    2. Process
    3. The range of products
    4. Key success factors
    5. Big companies (LVMH, Marne & Champagne, Laurent Perrier etc.)
  • Other French high-end wines:
    1. Mythic growths: Romanée-Conti and other Burgundy fine wines
    2. Other iconic wines in the Rhone Valley
    3. Other examples: Alsace, Loire, Provence etc.
  • The rise of fine wines around Europe: Focus on a few European fine wines producing regions such as Piedmont, Tuscany, Ribera del Duero, Duro, Mosel, Tokaj…
  • What is the “New world” of wine?
    1. Tour of New World fine wines producing countries such as California, South Africa, Chile and Argentina,
    2. Australia and New Zealand
    3. A different business model
  • Prescription, journalism and wine critics
    1. The importance of prescription given by sommeliers and wine retailers
    2. The wine press and media
    3. The polemic role of wine criticism