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French Wine – Down A Few Points

  • September 13th, 2007
  • Posted by Nina Plonka

wine-glass.jpgWorries about the quality of French wine; it’s significantly decreasing, according to a report by a consumer group.

CRITICS ARE WITHIN

Forty percent of experts from the wine industry say that the official quality label AOC (“Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée“) does not guarantee the minimal quality standards.

In its study the consumer group UFC-Que Choisir interviewed wine producers, dealers, oenologists and buyers.

Altogether 65% of them made the criticism that AOC wines do not demonstrate sufficient links to the region in which they originate, considered very important in Europe to measure the quality.

As a conclusive result UFC-Que Choisir determined that “one third of the French wine produced under the AOC system does not deserve this appellation” (“Un tiers du volume du vin français produit en AOC ne mérite pas cette appellation“).

Head of the consumer group, Alain Bazot, said consumer trust has been abused.

“For a number of years, we’ve seen a steady fall in quality in a number of AOCs, which has completely undermined consumer confidence,” he told the BBC.

The reasons for the decrease are numerous says UFC-Que Choisir: trying to achieve high quantity rather than quality, lax dealing with appellation and loose quality controls in which 98 per cent of products pass.

CHANGING THE QUALITY GUIDELINES

UFC-Que Choisir now demands major changes in the appellation systems and stricter quality controls.

It says aspects like the region of origin must again play an important role in the naming of wine.

It also calls on the governmental Institute National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (INAO) “to stop the flood of AOC concessions” (“que l’INAO arrête le flot des AOC au rabais”), and in that way raise the overall quality of AOC labelled wine.

It also suggests sanctions for failing to meet the standards.

About 44 % of French wine is labelled under the AOC system. It was created to give legal protection to famous wine regions such as Bordeaux and guarantee a high level of quality.

CHANGE BRINGS PAIN
At other times the same wine industry has sought deliberately to move to more industrialised marketing, intending to meet imports from the “New World” on their own terms. (See, EUAustralia 19.6.07, “Different Signals From The Vineyards …”; 27.4.07, “Move On Wine …”).

References:

“Doubt over quality of French wine” BBC (13.9.07)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6979650.stm

Réforme des AOC viticoles” UFC-Que Choisir (13.09.07)
http://www.quechoisir.org/Position.jsp;jsessionid=E749A9E7452A2073692A6C43983C080F.tomcat-
21?id=Ressources:Positions:EE34ECAD2671349FC125734B0036FC56&catcss=ALI401

Institute National de l’Origine et de la Qualité (13.09.07)
http://www.inao.gouv.fr/

Picture: Not as good as its reputation? French wine has come under critique from its own producers; stock.schn

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