While Sweden is cancelling a car rally “due to lack of snow,” it has been announced, with baleful looks, that France will probably lose a third of its wine-producing land. If Europe was united as it should be, we might perhaps have said: “So what? We’ll just plant French vines in Sweden and create elephant reserves in Tarn, Provence, or Ain, where climate conditions, 30 years from now, will be less tolerant to wine-growing, but still favourable to the thick hides of those dumb elephants. However, following the British retreat, the remaining EU members are staring stonily at one another, each looking for an opportunity to build up its own gross national fortune by capitalizing on the other’s misfortune. Thus it is that Sweden secretly dreams of one day becoming a great wine-producing nation and competing with its disgruntled French and Italian neighbours.
The best solution that springs to mind, after having emptied three Penfolds ampoules, would be to restart the Napoleonic Wars, while avoiding stupidly annoying the English or imprudently braving the Russian winter; France will become an empire again, the third to bear the name, and will plant its vines in conquered Sweden, where the royal armouries of Bernadotte, former renegade marshal of the first French emperor, will sell for twice the price of poor batches of wine. Climate change or not, French ingenuity “without which things would be only what they are” still has good days to come.