Comment - EU, France fight war of the rose
It is hard to fathom what the EU hopes to achieve by legalising the blending of red and white wines to make commercial rose.
French winemakers are throwing up their gallic arms in wild abandon at the European Commission's plan to allow winemakers across the EU to sell rose wine that has been made by blending red and white wines.
French agriculture minister Michel Barnier this week said that France would ban the practice, whatever the Commission does.
Barnier, probably enjoying the one moment in the last five years when he has been singing from the same hymn sheet as his native wine industry, believes that legalising the blending technique will flood the market with poor quality rose wine.
And let's face it, the French, as well as some of their European neighbours, know a thing or two about what happens when you flood a market with wine of substandard quality.
The French, and particularly Provence, which accounts for 5% of world rose production, use maceration to make rose. The process takes longer, but they argue that it yields higher quality results.
I have my differences with a number of opinions put forward by French winemakers, but, on this one, it looks hard to justify the EU's stance.
On the one hand, the Commission speaks loftily about the need to improve the quality of EU wine. Was it not but 18 months ago that agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel advocated ripping out up to 400,000 hectares of EU vines, in order to drain a lake of surplus wine that nobody wanted to drink?
What has happened to this drive for quality enshrined in the Commission's wine reform plans?
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