Why I Divorced My French Wife
Now here’s something that would never happen in America:
A French consumer group is making a serious complaint that wines from AOC-approved regions in France don’t taste they way they think they are supposed to, leading to recommendations that stricter standards be set for identifying wines that can actually carry said appellations on their label.
Yet this is exactly the claim that a French consumer group is making concerning the country’s AOC wines. Specifically, the group—UFC-Que Choisir—claims that pressure to produce more wine and and the non-impartiality of the AOC’s local overseers have led to reduced quality and wines that aren’t "typical" of the appellation the wines hail from.
Let’s be real clear about what this consumer rights group is claiming: They don’t particularly enjoy the style of wines being produced by various winemakers.
Behind all this whining is the very French notion that the soil in which grapes grow is the overwhelmingly defining factor determining the character of wine from a particular region. This idea completely isolates the role of the winemaker to one of rule-follower and nothing more. For in the French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system, everything from ripeness to trellising to pruning is dictated by regulations. The winemaker need only stand by with a clip board and assure that the rules are followed.
Without getting into the true absurdity of such a system, one can say only this: God Bless the French for making it so easy for New World wineries to take over the wine world.
The consumer group is suggesting that a new category of AOC wine be recognized on top of the current AOC categorization. This new category of AOC wines will be the "quality" wines that adhere strictly to certain conditions and have a very specific character and style associated with each region. Again, let’s be clear what the organization is suggesting: "You may have this new AOC designation as long as the wines you make taste exactly like this. And we will call this style of wine ‘high quality’ "
How much really great and interesting wine has gone unmade because of the French fetish with regulations and rules?
I am a fan of a style of wine that isn’t made that much anymore. I like a somewhat more austere, less extravagant, less fruit forward, lower alcohol style of wine that was made far more often many years ago. But I’m content in having to seek these out, rather than demanding that they be made.
For those of you who wonder why I divorced my ex-wife (she was French) all you need to do is think about this tendency of the French to impose ridiculous rules upon their winemakers.