France to launch national wine brand

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cabernet sauvignon Table wine Chardonnay France

France is to launch a national wine brand later this year in its
latest attempt to drain bulging cellars and take on rivals in
foreign markets.

French wine authorities have officially backed plans for the brand, which will cover vins de pays wines and is set to be called 'Vignobles de France'.

Supporters of the move say it will allow winemakers to be more flexible and help to reduce the pools of unsold wine that have become a regular feature in the bowels of the industry.

"It contains the crucial word 'France', which is meaningful for consumers,"​ said Anne Burchett, the French managing director of Castel UK, commenting on French authorities' decision to create the brand.

Talks over a 'France' wine brand became more serious after the government included the proposal in its national wine strategy last spring, drawn up as a blueprint for re-launching French wines on the international market.

The brand would enable winemakers to blend vins de pays (VDP) wines from different regions for the first time.

"It would allow brand owners to offer all possible styles of VDP under one name without confusing the consumer with different origins,"​ Burchett told​.

"It will improve flexibility for brand owners, allowing them to switchsupply from one particular department to another according to the needs ofthe market."

Momentum in French discussions appeared to pick up after Spain announced recently it would launch its own national wine brand.

Australia and the New World may be the ones stealing most ground from France in markets like the UK, but there remains a big rivalry between French and Spanish winemakers.

Many in southern France peer jealously across the border at what they believe to be less bureaucracy and more government support enjoyed by their Spanish counterparts. "Level playing field"​ is a term often used.

Not everyone is wholly convinced about French plans to follow Spain's lead with a national brand, however.

Some part of the VDP d'OC label, which makes more than half France's VDP and currently exports more wine than Bordeaux, say they are doing fine as they are.

Burchett, an expert on the fast-growing UK wine market, diasgreed. "Whereas I agree the Oc category does a fantastic job, there are certain styles of wines, which are not available from that particular origin such as light, fragrant white wines a la Pinot Grigio."

She said the France brand opened up new opportunities, such as the possibility "to blend a Sauvignon from the Loire and the Oc to try and optimise the organoleptic profile of the resulting wine"​.

See the​ archives for extensive, on-the-ground coverage of France's wine industry problems and EU plans to reform Europe's wine industry.

Related topics R&D Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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