I was surprised at how eager the folks in Champagne were to talk behind other people's back. I find the opposite in Burgundy where people really do not want to talk, but here there are loose tongues. Is this because Champagne is dominated b one very large house depersonalizes the area? Most of the behind-the-back comments were directed towards those who farm without chemicals. While I thought I'd see a more welcoming attitude to those mavericks who dare to grown biodynamically or organically, I found that they were more often viewed as the enemy. In a way they are. They challenge the regional paradigm. My ability to be poker faced was tested. Sometimes I did well and just let people go on and on. Here were the two highlights. **Director of Clicquot Communications who came from Proctor & Gamble said, "Makeup and the champagne business are the same thing, a little bit of product and a lot of dream." **Same director sneering (honest!) when I asked if they will come out with an organic cuv�e. His response to that was that their dosage was less than a cokes, that they are using less foil on their bottles and you must farm chemically in Champagne. **Same director told me that to meet the demand in other countries, they will reduce sales in France, "The French drinker can discover the other wonderful sparkling wines in this country. They are not champagne but still quite good." I was having lunch with my friend Pascaline who took the train down from Paris to spend the day. It was a white gloved affair and one of the best dishes I had over my four days in town was served up: gorgeous warm thumb-sized rattes under a light cheese sauce topped by a lightly cured salmon. The simplicity was too much of a match for the 1998 Grande Dame which was overwhelmingly creamy and empty with a few patched on candy notes. When we left, Pascaline got a texto from a friend. "Have a sulphur headache yet?" She did. My brain and their brain are not from same species. In fact, anyone such as the winemaker for Moet who went into it, not for love, but the lifestyle, is as alien as someone who happily eats margarine and believes frozen is better than fresh. But I digress. A family owned smaller negoce asked me if he could be off record. Here are bits of his insights. �In forty years champagne has changed from family to big business. All of the GM at Moet are facing tremendous pressure to deliver more. They need to obtain better results year after year and that is measured in numbers. They are progressively cutting the roots of the vines. They communicate on the image and not the wine. �Some of the middle houses,� he predicted, �would be pushed out because Moet is going to raise the price of grapes so high that they will be the only ones able to afford them. Of course, the growers who make wine themselves are safe. � One of the most poignant insights he had was about LVMH severing an emotional link to the land. 'LVMH is starting a new strategy to take control pf the vineyards. They offer to growers, to my age (30�s) and say, you shouldn�t work in your vineyards, we take care of everything, we farm, treat, we take the crop and in the end of the year you will get an income and easy. Voila. Increasingly they influence the growers and they cut this important emotional link to t h e land so then it is not so hard to eventually buy they land. This is the open door to the next step, of buying the land. LVMH will throw the balance out of the region very quickly.What is at stake is Champagne tomorrow. It is like the beginning of a cancer. You can�t feel the danger but it is starting.'