Subliminal Wine Reviews
There is a wildly subversive and subliminal quality to this story.
The Office of Champagne, USA has issued a press release exalting the fact that "Belgian Customs
authorities seized and destroyed a shipment of over 3,200 bottles of André
sparkling wine. The shipment was seized at the port of Anvers, Belgium,
The Gallo-produced products were seized and destroyed because the wine carries the terms “California
Champagne” and “André
Champagne Cellars”. Using the term "Champagne" on a wine not from the
Champagne region is a violation of
export laws that protect the place names of wine
What’s really interesting is that the press release comes with a link
to a video of the Andre Sparkling Wine being destroyed. The video
itself is perhaps the best subliminal statement about wine quality I’ve
seen in ages. Toward the end you see the once sparkling liquid now
browned by its exposure to shredded cardboard wine cases, glass, label
paper, bins and who knows what else, being drained into bins from the
container in which the wines were destroyed. The brown, ugly liquid
can’t be any good to drink, now can it? It OBVIOUSLY isn’t champagne. In fact, is this what most American wine that tries to sparkle really looks like???
I’m a big supporter of this notion that integrity demands that place
names ought to mean something. "Champagne" falls into that category.
I’m unaware if Gallo had an exemption to the recently negotiated treaty
concerning place names. Nor do I have any idea if this shipment had
been in the pipeline for some time or if Gallo wanted to get away with
The point is that Gallo SHOULD be changing the label of Andre’s so that
it merely says "Sparkling Wine". It’s not Champagne. It’s wine that
It seems to me that when these rules took affect some long time producers using names like champagne and port were “grandfathered” for a few years. Dont remenber how long. Gallo had a lot of nerve exporting its “champagne” to europe at this late date.
I think in light of the recent watering-down of the Champagne appellation this may be less a case of punishing mis-labeling and more a case of have-it-both-ways economic protectionism: les Americains can’t dilute our appellation, that a job pour nous!
Creepy video, I must say.
Hey, further update on this: according to a friend of mine in the US department of commerce, all is not as simplistic as the press has made it seem. According to him: “The product in question was not destined for the Belgian market, but to Nigeria where I one is allowed to label a non-French sparkling wine ‘Champagne’ as is done in many countries (such as the United States). Gallo/Andre had no control of where it was initally being shipped to since it sold the product to a buyer that deals with cruise ships.”