French terroiristes are up in arms over an EU proposal to let the term Château apply to wines made from bought in grapes. But what is truly amazing in the Telegraph story is that around 80% of French wine is geographically defined – i.e. wine made from grapes grown on a specific site, so called terroir wine. Truly hard to believe given the large co-ops in the big volume Languedoc and the south of France.
In SA its surely the exact opposite, if not worse, with many of the big name estates making wine from bought in grapes. In addition to big brands like Two Oceans, Tall Horse, Obiqwa and so on, many proud estate labels contain the proviso Wine of Origin, Western Cape. As we found terroir tasting for our upcoming Neil Pendock’s Winelands Guide 2013. Many icons were absent from our blind tastings because they were not WO wines, unlike the wonderful Tierhoek Chenin Blanc 2009 below I enjoyed at Scusi in Parkview last Thursday night.
But SA wine has a solution for French terroirists – demand that wine made from bought in grapes and called Château, drop the circumflex and become Chateau which was the resolution many years ago applied to Chateau Libertas to avoid French boycotts of SA crayfish.
The way I read it, 80% of French wine is “associated” with a specific terroir by virtue of carrying the name Chateau on the label, which is a marketing achievement I’m inclined to believe. Sort of what Two Oceans is attempting by posing as WO Cape Point.
Languedoc winemakers – despite their huge volume – do tend to convince visitors and locals alike of the importance of terroir.