Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Truth in Labeling

In one of the most bizarre wine-related publicity stunts I have seen, the BBC reported that winemakers of the Languedoc have called their wine Vin de Merde (loosely translated, crap wine). Remarkably, whereas most wines from that region languish on shelves, apparently, VdM has sold out its initial run. One further irony is that a French magazine once had to defend itself from a libel suit for calling Beaujolais vin de merde.

The Languedoc itself is an interesting region. Created in 1985, one would think that it could have created its own image of itself rather than be forced into the tiered systems of other regions. The niche they seemed to carve out though was largely for crap wines. The quality has increased with some small serious producers, but the region goes underappreciated because of the difficulty of sorting the wheat from the chaff. Further, the best producers don't represent much in the way of value vis-a-vis other up-and-coming regions, such as the Loire. As concisely put by Jamie Goode, "The Languedoc seems to have come of age. No longer is it a sea of cheap wine with just a handful of quality producers. It’s now a slightly smaller sea of cheap wine but with dozens of serious, ambitious producers." Not bad wines, just not that compelling. Anything I'm missing?


Brad Coelho said...

Nice post Ben- and it is a bit of a polarizing area. To your point, the bread and butter of the region was the mass produced, industrialized swill...yet as the demand for quality increased, the grape factory jobs of the Languedoc shriveled. Most of the big names that have re-colonized the region have done so in a high-brow, uber priced fashion. While there's less plonk, there's more nebulous pricy posh, leaving that middle ground for clear value all the more muddled.

Ben said...

Exactly. Not necessarily bad wine, but no narrative to the story of the region. No compelling reason to buy and learn the ins and outs of the region.