On OpenWineConsortium.org, there is a European Community Group founded by my friend Robert McIntosh reflecting on the meaning (or absence of meaning) of the differences between “New” World and “Old” World in the wine business. This topic must be very pertinent since the French wine industry just decided to change the laws on how to label their wines. Why? To fight back the New World wines and regain market shares worldwide!
Why is this decision so important? As most wine consumers know, French labels are notorious for their complexity while American, Australian or Argentinian wines are going straight to the point: grape name, vintage, provenance and an explicit back label. French producers will be able to produce wines under the “Vignobles de France” (French Vineyards) denomination with a lot more freedom:
- They can plant any type of vine anywhere in France: for example, Gewurztraminer will no longer be restricted to Alsace.
- They can put the name of the grape on the label.
- Blended wines from different regions of France will be available for the first time.
- Producers are authorized to use oak chips and tannins during vinification.
Those new rules mean more flexibility and reactivity to answer the new trends. Maybe it will allow the launch of more brands, such as Chamarré. This new system should bring the wine industry up, since the Controlled Appellation will be harder to obtain and the top vineyards will keep their high standards.