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  • Julia Harding MW
Written by
  • Julia Harding MW
24 Aug 2007

As reported here and here, France's new Vin de Pays de Gaules (for the Beaujolais region), Vin de Pays de l'Atlantique (for Bordeaux) and Vin de Pays Vignobles de France (for all of vine-growing France) have all been ratified by Viniflhor, the public organisation charged with overseeing regulations for viticulture and wine-making in France, and, more importantly, by the French ministry of agriculture (as recorded in the Journal Officiel de la République Française, the French equivalent of Hansard).

There were, of course, objections within France to the idea of a vin de pays category that would allow blending of any wines that had already qualified as a vin de pays in any part of France but, as Noel Bougrier, president of ANIVIT (Association Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Vins de Table et des Vins de Pays) assured me, these regional vins de pays are now legal in France. Indeed, the creators of the Chamarré brand are already exporting wines labelled Vin de Pays Vignobles de France.

But there are still some objections in France, especially from professional organisations in the militant south of France, who, according to Bourgrier, fear loss of market share for the longer established Vin de Pays d'Oc denomination. And what do you do when your own government ignores you? Appeal to the EU.

So now the EU has put in its oar and has refused to announce these new denominations in the Journal Officiel des Communautés Européennes, and a note has been sent to a French representative at the EU asking France to 'reconsider its position'. The author of the note, Jean-Luc Demarty, the EU's director general for agriculture, suggests that the areas covered by these new denominations do not respect the principle that a 'geographic indication' has to cover an area more specific than those allowed in these three vins de pays - especially in Vin de Pays Vignobles de France. Bourgrier counters that the area is not equivalent to the whole of France since the 64 vin de pays areas whose wines can go into the blend are already a specific selection of vineyards in France.

France has two months to reply. I doubt that they will be moved, though I'm sure the response will be very polite and possibly long-winded. Bougrier is utterly confident that we will see more and more of these designations on our shelves in 2008.