Olly Wehring

French wine - as clear as mud?

By: Olly Wehring - 10 September 2006 17:18

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Just when the French wine industry makes noises suggesting it is simplifying its offering to consumers, the body in charge of creating appellations has created two more - and extended two others.

The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine’s decision this week to create two new appellations - both in the Loire - and extend two in the Languedoc, comes as the industry is fighting to win back drinkers from their New World rivals.

Appellations, or AOCs, are intended to recognise the high quality and specific characteristics of wine produced in a given region. However, with over 450 regions in France with AOC status, wine drinkers around the world - and even in France - can be forgiven for feeling confused over which wine to buy and from where. Adding yet more AOCs into the mix will only add to that confusion - and drive consumers to the more simplified offerings provided by Australia, the US and the rest of the New World.

The French wine industry is starting to embrace the concept of wine brands and has begun to accept that AOC status is no longer a reference point for the consumer in the same way as brand and grape variety are.

But this message is taking time to get through to all in the French wine industry. It’s taken around 15 year's of New World pressure for France to lose its market leading position in a market like the UK - it could take the country as long again to win it back.

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