Like the 204 other delegations, the France Olympic team was welcomed by Her Majesty the Queen in person at the Olympic Village last Thursday. Fifty French athletes received a welcome message, in French (the official language of the games) and English, from the Queen and the Head of Mission, Bernard Amsalem, (who is also president of the French Athletics Federation) offered a case of Chateau Margaux, wrapped in the colours of France, to Her Majesty the Queen.
I’m not sure why Margaux was chosen above all others – perhaps it is a favourite? Queen Elizabeth has a wide range of claret in her cellars but for her 80th birthday lunch at Mansion House Chateau Margaux was served with the main course (loin of venison).
I expect that wine is out of bounds for the French Olympic athletes during the games but back in 1932 when Los Angeles was host to the summer Olympics of that year, the French Olympic committee was hoping that American prohibition authorities would be lenient and permit French athletes at Los Angeles to have a quart of wine a day:
“If the Americans knew how great will be the effect on our boys if they are deprived of wine, they would be sporting and let us take as much wine as we need” said one French official.
“We are accustomed to wine with our meals and to suddenly stop drinking it might lessen our chances in the games”
It was finally agreed that the French athletes could carry reserve supplies of wine under seal provided they obeyed any regulations that the prohibition officers wised to impose. How times have changed!
Considering that French President Francois Hollande could back a bid for the 2024 Olympics I wonder what the French Olympic Wine would be if the bid should prove to be successful? The London 2012 Olympics are the first to have an ‘official wine’ – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tasked buyers at UK wine merchant Bibendum with securing almost 650,000 litres of 2012 vintage wine for a range to be sold at all Games venues this summer.
The 3 wines that were chosen are packaged in recyclable PET bottles and are all under the Fairtrade brand. The Stellenrust Estate in South Africa has supplied the white Chenin Blanc and a rosé made from Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot and Brazil’s Seival Estate has supplied the red, a blend of Shiraz and Tempranillo. It seems a shame that a UK white or sparkling wine was not chosen to represent the country hosting the games!
President Hollande did not mention a city, but if it were Paris this would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Olympics in the French capital.