From The Times -

July 18, 2005

Chirac to be served the best of British

From Nicci Smith in Brussels

BRITAIN is to wreak revenge on President Chirac for disparaging British cuisine by serving the French leader national dishes and English and Welsh wine each time he comes to Brussels.

M Chirac will be offered toasts not of French champagne but of Camel Valley Brut from Cornwall. He will have to wash his meals down not with bordeaux but with Chapeldown pinot noir as Britain uses its six-month EU presidency to showcase its best regional food and drink at all ministerial meetings and summits.

A total of 2,148 bottles of English and Welsh wine have been ordered at a cost of £11,800 to the EU budget. Ten vineyards will have the chance to show off some 15 of their finest wines as ambassadors, ministers and heads of state visit Brussels.

M Chirac caused a rumpus this month by telling Gerhard Schröder and President Putin that Britain had the worst food after Finland. He added that Britain’s only contribution to European agriculture was “mad cow” disease.

The French President is due to sample British fare twice during the British presidency, at summits in October and December. But French ministers will be subject to it almost daily basis at routine meetings. Tonight, for example, EU agriculture ministers will consume Scottish smoked salmon and Welsh lamb, with Sharpham Barrel-Fermented Dry 2003.

The British wines, from Cornwall, the South East, the Midlands and Wales, have been chosen through a tendering process that included tastings by embassy and EU officials. The winners included Sharpham Beenleigh red 2003, Denbies Coopers Brook 2003 and Glyndwr medium white 2002.