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- Thraz - 06-26-2005 07:48 AM

Not US politics but I'm not sure where else this topic would fit.

I read an article about a guy who planted syrah in the Loire valley. Apparently there is a regional organization called Onivins Val de Loire, which represents the wine chain professionals of the Loire valley. Evidently the law says that Onivins should have authorized the planting because there is no syrah in the region. So the national Customs office goes to court to get him to remove the vines. And they win! He has to remove them! And according to the guy's lawyer, Onivins could have authorized it even after the planting and Customs would have gone away. Way to promote creativity in the wine region whose interests they claim to promote. The winemaker was not even trying to use a local appellation or anything, he just wanted to make wine from syrah in the Loire valley. So now he has just one barrique of wine that he has produced, and that is all there will ever be.

Having written this I realize I should have placed this topic in the "Rants" forum. But his sort of thing really gets to me, and is so representative of France even beyond the world of wine. (full disclosure: I am French).


- Innkeeper - 06-26-2005 07:58 AM

The only consolation about the dumb American laws is that other countries have dumber laws!!! Won't name any names.


- wineguruchgo - 06-26-2005 07:58 AM

The French are just nuts about this.

Personally, I don't see the harm if the wine was not going to be for sale. If he was going to blend it with a Cab Franc and sell it then I would understand.

I don't think thats fair.

Pretty soon you're going to see grow lights in attics & basements like illegal marajuana users here! LOL! How sad is that?!


- Bucko - 06-26-2005 10:53 AM

I'll take a contrarian view. The French have had hundreds of years to figure out which vines grow best in which areas, unlike the US.

Hell, we try to grow cool weather grapes down in S. CA, and try to grow hot weather grapes in N. CA. Will they grow? Sure. Do they produce wines that are typical? No.

I am a firm believer in typicity. When I buy a Pinot Noir, I want it to taste like Pinot, not a Syrah wannabe.

The French have figured it out. Why f$%k up a good thing? I'm all for their appellation restrictions and say more power to them.


- Thraz - 06-26-2005 03:31 PM

I agree with "some" of the appellation restrictions - although I think this case is very different. The winemaker was not trying to get any appellation. He just planted syrah somewhere to make and sell wine. If the wine is bad, it won't sell. I wish the market could decide that, not somebody in a government office. And if the wine is good, well maybe a new syrah appellation for the Loire valley might be created someday. But there is no way anybody in any of these organizations today can say for sure that syrah-based Loire wine is a bad idea - obviously they have not had a chance to try any. I would have been all over this wine (at least to try) if it had reached the market, but I guess somebody in Paris or Tours knows what's good for me and saved me from myself once again.

And as for typicity - well, it's a good thing people were not stopped by that a few decades ago, or there would not be a lot of wine in the new world, if only for the fact that pinot noir in California tastes very different from pinot noir in Burgundy. We would all have missed out if this new typicity had not been invented.

Bucko... Did I walk right into it? My overbearing-French-government buttons are easy to push...


- wineguruchgo - 06-26-2005 03:56 PM

Did I miss something here? No where in what was written did I see anything about selling the wine.

I think if it's for personal consumption he should be able to make wine out of cucumbers if he wants to!


- Thraz - 06-26-2005 08:15 PM

I didn't say that the wine was going to be sold, or that it was not. Actually it makes no difference to me, the point is elsewhere. But yes, the wine was going to be sold. The guy was not accused of trying to mislabel, or get a local appellation, or call it cabernet franc, or mix it with something local without disclosure - just of planting syrah in an area he thought would be good for it, regardless of purpose (well, beyond the purpose of making wine).

[This message has been edited by Thraz (edited 06-26-2005).]


- jmcginley1 - 06-26-2005 10:50 PM

I'm with Thraz on this one. Because of how strict the AOC regulations can be, we'll never see a Liore Syrah, which doesn't sit well with me. This could have been a solid and tasty bottling, and we'll never get to find out.


- Thomas - 06-27-2005 06:40 AM

First, let me say that I agree with Bucko on this--strange as it may seem...

To play Devil's Advocate for a minute: suppose French researchers have already established that Syrah is not suited to the Loire? Viticultural research goes on daily throughout the world. Before you can have an opinion on a story like this, you need all the facts--and I don't think anyone would disagree that the press gives us all the facts behind every (or any) story.


- Thraz - 06-27-2005 07:53 AM

What better research than to give it a try? The vines were planted and some wine had already been made. I'd rather decide on the basis of an actual bottle - and if it finds a market, that's all the justification I need, not whether research says it's suited or not, or whether critics like it. I'm all for quality labels, and that's the AOC system's intent (however imperfect) - but the wine world would also be worse off without vins de pays. Actually I think the wine world would even be much worse off without white zin, because all these people would probably drink juice instead and never touch the wine world - or pour money into it. I can't imagine we'd find a lot of wine researchers that would say white zin is suited to any terroir.


- winoweenie - 06-27-2005 08:17 AM

Yeppo T but believe me Bob Trinchero can give you millions of reasons. WW [Image: wink.gif]


- Thomas - 06-27-2005 10:39 AM

When I say viticultural research I mean, researchers do produce wine and then evaluate the results. Their evaluation takes into consideration not only if someone will buy the wine, but if the wine represents what it should in the region, and if the wine can be produced with consistency. This is done regularly with many grape varieties in many places--some get rooted out (pun intended [Image: smile.gif]) others make the grade, for whatever reasons on which each regional authority agrees.

Fact remains Thraz, you are conjecturing from a media story. You don't know whether or not the French have research to back up their stringent rules on this one. I don't either, but I do prefer that research continue and that it halt potential wasteful wines.

White Zinfandel is a great example: it exists only because there was a need to get rid of surplus and Trinchero struck on a great idea. The grapes had already been established in California; he didn't change that--he just made a different wine from them.

As to the benefit to the wine industry posed by White Zinfandel--again, need facts and data to make a definitive claim.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 06-27-2005).]


- dananne - 06-27-2005 12:09 PM

Just to throw my .02 in, and admittedly doing it without all the facts, I think the following:

1. If the Syrah was being blended into Cab Franc to make a differently styled wine and/or using the appellation, then it'd be wrong.

2. I understand that they've had a long time to figure out what works and what doesn't in each of their appellations, and that the appellations are in place to provide not only consistency, but also ensure a genuine product.

3. That having been said, there have been many changes in vitaculture, with things like clonal selections, technology, etc., so the ideas about what will do best and where may be outdated or at least need to be revisited from time to time. I recognize that research is being done all the time, and perhaps the French have done research to show that Syrah is not suited to the Loire. However, if this guy wants to make a Syrah, let the market decide whether it's any good. Perhaps the reseach will be proven correct, perhaps not. At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, nobody thought that the new "shredded wheat" cereal would be popular. Over a hundred years later, it's still on the shelves (even though I still think it tastes like crap).

4. This smacks of political collusion. Imagine if someone wanted to plant Syrah in, say, the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Now, I'm sure some folks growing Pinot would be concerned that it not be blended into Pinot, producing a fuller, richer style of wine. They may also have concerns about use of the appellation. However, assume that it wasn't going to be blended or use the appellation. Those same Pinot growers would have a vested interest in seeing it be unsuccessful, as if it was successful, it'd be competition for one thing. For another, if it caught on, they might have to revisit their own plantings, which would be costly.

5. Concerning the issue of typicity, who's to say what a "typical" Loire Syrah would taste like? If it hasn't been done, there's no standard, and if they're not using the appellation, then they're not claiming a standard.

I am not an expert by any stretch, and again I don't have all the facts. However, in these instances, I usually go with the idea that the market will sort it out.


- Thraz - 06-27-2005 12:13 PM

I guess this is more of a free-market vs. control discussion at this point, so we probably won't solve anything... But in my view there is no such thing as a wasteful wine if it has customers. It's not that I don't know whether research has been conducted, it's that I find it irrelevant whether it has - let people decide for themselves what they like and how they want to spend money.

And generally, if one needs all the facts to have an opinion, and the press will never give you all the facts... Well then I can never have any opinion on anything I see in the press... But as you can see I'm fairly opinionated so that would not work for me... (there would be a smiley here if I knew how to insert them)


- Thomas - 06-27-2005 01:58 PM

Thraz, to insert a smiley just type the colon and the end paranthesis.

My understanding of viticultural controls is that producers must sign on to the controls. Of course, over time I am sure bureaucrats wrest the control, but producers are supposed to be involved in the process, and I guess by consensus--or by pressure--the controls can be changed, and they are being changed (ever so slowly in France).

The free market idea has a lot going for it, but you also have to remember that controls were established to reign in the corruption of free markets. After Rome and Greece, the first major controls were established in Portugal, at the complaints of the British market to prevent massive adulteration and fraud.

Before France put teeth into its control systems all kinds of fraud took place, not the least of which was adding southern Italian wine to stretch volume (some say they still do).

One reason guys like me like the AOC is that while I am quite familiar with the characteristics of various grape varieties, I really place more value on regional identity.


- Thraz - 06-27-2005 02:16 PM

This discussion could go on forever but it really should be around a table with a good supply of wine to accompany it. So I am not continuing it here - just testing the smiley thing.

[Image: smile.gif]
[Image: wink.gif]


- Thraz - 06-27-2005 02:16 PM

Cool.


- Thomas - 06-27-2005 02:56 PM

Try this one [Image: wink.gif] or this [Image: eek.gif]

Oh, you got that one [Image: wink.gif].

What about this one [Image: frown.gif] ?


[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 06-27-2005).]


- robr - 10-01-2005 12:14 PM

[Image: mad.gif] [Image: rolleyes.gif] [Image: biggrin.gif] [Image: cool.gif] [Image: tongue.gif] [Image: eek.gif] [Image: confused.gif] [Image: frown.gif]

Sorry, just playing with the emoticons. Very cool!

[This message has been edited by bernkastler (edited 10-01-2005).]