Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Europeans to Terroirize Wine Buyers
I’m all for the internet providing information on all aspects on wine. And I certainly don’t begrudge the Europeans their long wine history, tradition, and culture. But as Jancis Robinson pointed out in her recent piece in the San Francisco Chronicle it’s a myth that Eurpoean wine is more pure, noble and artisanal. So excuse me for being skeptical about a new website, called the Center for Wine Origins, that promotes only Champagne and Port.

The Center has launched a three- year "location matters" campaign, which states “When it comes to wine, there is no ingredient more important than location. The land, air, water and weather where grapes are grown are what make each wine unique. That’s why great names like Port and Champagne are more than just types of wine; they’re from specific regions in Portugal and France.”

The campaign is financed by the European Union, the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the Instituto dos Vinos do Douro e Porto (IVDP). Fedejerez, representing the producers of Sherry in Spain, will join the campaign in 2006.

Now maybe I’m just plain naïve but I thought land, air, water and weather were important for wine production world-wide. More importantly very few places experience the same land, air, water and weather and so the same grape variety grown in the Rhone River valley produces a different wine from that made in the Barossa Valley or Sonoma County. Whether these fine wine regions will get their chance to be listed on the Center for Wine Origins site is not clear.

But I’m not holding my breath. Why? Well the Center is “a central part of the European participation in the name protection campaign” launched on June 26, 2005. However the campaign was initiated by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) out of a concern over mislabeling and the lack of legal protection for place names in the United States. A declaration to this effect was signed by the NVV and wine makers from Oregon and Washington State. To read the full text of the declaration, click here.

Given that representatives from Champagne, Port and Sherry also signed onto the declaration one might expect that the American Viticultural Areas would be part of the Center for Wine Origins site. But no it appears that the Europeans want to continue to go their own way.

But what really ticks me off about this site is one of their PDFs that is entitled "Where does your wine come from?" On page six it says "The concept of misrepresenting location isn’t a hard one to grasp. " and then gives examples of misrepresentation. A couple are "Champagne not from France? " and "Napa wines from China?" Another is "Bordeaux from Australia?" Oh really! And just want are the examples of Australian wines that are actually labeled Bordeaux?

For those who want to make the effort to find out about Australian Wine Law, Making and Labelling I suggest you read this. Under Register of Protected Names is the following "Please note that it is illegal to use protected names in the description and presentation of wine in any context whatsoever, even in an otherwise true statement in textual form on a back label (eg. ‘this wine is made from a typical Bordeaux blend of grapes’,..." That seems pretty clear to me!

So Center for Wine Origins I suggest that you correct your mislabeling!

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