Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Jacques Cade Award Winner

[Updated, below]

Shakespeare had Jack Cade--Henry VI, Part 2--proclaim:

There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it a felony to drink small beer.

In France, the felony is for small wine being improved:

A French wine producer who rose from humble origins to claim the laurel of the "King of Beaujolais" was yesterday convicted of defrauding wine drinkers by mixing low-grade wine with fine vintages.

Georges Duboeuf, 72, the erstwhile toast of connoisseurs and top chefs, was found guilty of "fraud and attempted fraud concerning the origin and quality of wines" and fined 30,000 euros (£21,000).

....The ruling comes as a further blow to the French wine industry, already in crisis over dwindling domestic consumption, slumping exports and the rise of New World wines.

Duboeuf has been credited with almost single-handedly transforming Beaujolais Nouveau into a global phenomenon.

But the court found that the illegal mixing was performed to ensure consistent quality in other wines produced on his vineyards after a patchy harvest in 2004.

Grapes from the superior Beaujolais "crus", or growing areas, such as Juliénas, Saint-Amour and Morgon, were mixed together and in turn added to the lesser Beaujolais--Villages, whose 2004 harvest was considered poor quality.

Such practice is banned under strict rules governing the wine trade, even though the aim was to improve the inferior wine.

It was condemned as "shocking" by appellation controlée inspectors. "Everything was being mixed," the prosecutor, Francis Battut, said in a statement.

Which helps to explain why California has been--our metaphor mixer has been turned on--eating France's lunch over the last 30 years.

[Update] Here is a brief explanation of the history of the stifling regulations that Napa-Sonoma Valley winemakers had the good fortune to be unencumbered by.

Which regulations would have likely made it impossible for people like Mike Grgich to produce the 1973 vintage Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that took first place at the 1976 Judgment of Paris. Because that vineyard was in its first year of operation by Grgich and his partners, and they didn't have any grapes growing then. They purchased grapes from several other vinyards and blended them under the Montelena label.

No comments: