Whine, Wine, Wien

I don’t get it. Do French politicians think we can’t read, don’t read, or do they just not care?

Jean-Claude Martinez, a politician and member of the extreme right wing French party National front from the south of France had this to say yesterday:

"We have been making wine since the Roman Empire, and not for a couple of hundred years like the Americans. Wine is a civilization, it is a fine art."

Fine art? Some of that dreg that his own constituents produce would suggest that stick figures qualify as "fine art" in the south of France.

Martinez was reacting to the provisional trade pact with Washington that, if enacted, would lead to an easing of restrictions on exporting wine to American and to the European Union.

The deal takes tentative steps to outlaw many European place-names on American wines. But it does more than that. The deal would recognize each region’s winemaking practices. In the case of American wines that means the allowance for small amounts of water to the wine as well as adding oak chips to wine to flavor it, rather than using the more expensive oak barrels to add that oak essence. In the case of France, that would mean we would have no problem with wines that have sugar added to them.

The Europeans don’t like this very much. They feel it puts them at a competitive disadvantage because their wine producing laws prohibit much of what we allow. So what do they do? Disparage Americans and American winemaking. I would expect that from a National Front politician. That brand of politicians is among the most retrograde on the continent…racist and xenophobic to their core.

But now we have to deal with German nincompoops (sp?) too.

Christa Klass, a leader of the European "People’s Party" and representative of the Mosel region in Germany also didn’t like that Americans could add oak chips and small amounts of water to wine:

"Water in wine is something which is unimaginable for us and unacceptable to our consumers We don’t need artificial wine.

Most of the European wine countries, and the French in particular, are getting their hats handed to them when it comes to sales of wines. I’m not sure they really should be the ones explaining what their consumers want. The Australians should probably do that for them.

Huge over at Huge Johnson’s World of Wine Blog has a good deal to say about this outburst by the European whiners. I suggest you read it. As always, Huge nails it.

If you are a wine drinker, this pact that is being worked out between the EU and America is of very little consequence. It won’t really change your access to wines nor will it lead to any real change in the quality of wines your are drinking, nor the price you are paying.


Posted In: Wine Business


3 Responses

  1. Spittoon.biz - September 28, 2005

    French wine union rejects EU/US deal.

    French co-ops have rejected the recent EU-US wine accord claiming the deal will not benefit European producers as much as the Commission thinks. Beveragedaily.com “France’s wine cooperatives union (CCVF) has called the agreement ‘unacceptable’. It said…

  2. Roger - September 29, 2005

    I like wine. I drink it almost daily.
    Different parts of the world make wine different ways for a variety of reasons – I think as long as the winemaker makes something I want to drink, whether it’s by adding a little bit of water, a bit of sugar, adding back a little grape juice at the end, or whatever, then I’m a happy camper.
    I like and can appreciate a premium bottle, but I also will happily drink a cheap bottle of something uncomplicated.
    The vocabulary of wine is what helps me buy the product – imagine if IBM and HP and Dell had to have different names for their computer components!
    Let’s have the US, France, Germany, and the rest of the EU stop the sniping, and just sit down and raise a glass, shall we?

  3. rama - September 30, 2005

    With statements like “We don’t need artificial wine” while they dump piles of sugar into their must to compensate for their low Brix, you can’t take these guys seriously. Roger has a point about each region making wines for a reason, but surely the old world must recognize we have our reasons just as they have theirs. If not, then they are close minded and will go the way of the dinosaur as globalization sweeps forward.

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