Saturday, November 20, 2004

Franco - American wine relations

Karen writes:

"Hi there,

Although the French wine industry has hit a bit of a slump in the U.S., many of my friends are still drinking it. In fact, the December issue of Wine Enthusiast recommended a great French Wine - Red Bicyclette, we tried the Syrah and thought that it was fab!! What are your opninions? Do you still drink and enjoy French wines. Would love to hear your thoughts. "

Thanks for the note. Red Bicyclette and Fat Bastard are both doing well, but they are bucking the trend by using brand names rather than the name of the producer,
which creates confusion for consumers. Living in California, I have a pretty compressed market for French wines (limited shelf space, that is). Nonetheless, I do like some $10 Rhones and a few other "gems" that are at decent prices, but in general, I'm not a fan of French wines for a number of reasons (I won't get into Brett as I've beaten that dead horse too much). The French still make nice wines, but its their infrastructure that is killing them - especially problems with the AOC system, though it did start as a good idea. AOC's, while promoting "traditional" wine regions and varietals grown within those regions has put a serious stranglehold on the French's ability to adapt to the changing market and it's commitment to quality has been compromised (read more here by Jamie Good).

Let them blend some Syrah into a Bordeaux for example! The world is not going to end! Eliminating the artificial market controls throughout France and allowing them to use modern winemaking and viticultural techniques (did you know that watering mature vines in France is illegal?) that will be needed to save the French wine industry. France will survive, but the form it will evolve to in order to do so will be quite telling......


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