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It ‘Vin de Pays’ To Know

An interesting bit of news for you.

Come the start of August, Vin de Pays – the wide-reaching term for French wine between table wine and appellation-approved quality wine – will be no more.

In its place will be the new Indication Géographique Protegée system designed to give current Vin de Pays producers a foot-up to sit alongside existing base appellations like ‘Bordeaux’ – the bottom rung of the ‘Cru’ ladder if you like.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out. Vin de Pays has always been a trustworthy term for quality wines at an affordable price.

Many restaurants’ house wines are Vin de Pays. Not surprising really – they’re simple, reliable and easily enhance the gastronomic experience. If there’s value for money to be had, Vin de Pays is usually a good place to start.

The idea is to level the playing field – to get rid of the ‘cheap’ stigma of regional France and align it with the lesser wines of the big regions.

For the sake of the producers at the bottom of the pile, it’s a nice idea. My only hope is that it doesn’t push the prices up.

Remembering that experimenting with grape varieties not permitted by the local appellation automatically demotes wines that might elsewhere have commanded ‘Cru’ status to the humble Vin de Pays category, provided you do your homework, there are some sublime wines available at a very reasonable price.

The new EU rules will take effect from the 2009 harvest, hitting our shelves as and when the wines are released to the trade.

If you’re interested, there’s an excellent article by Helen Savage that puts some of the new changes into context in a bit more detail.

My Wine of the Week

The image “http://www.majestic.co.uk/Assets/Majestic/Client/products/1/0/1/10171_p.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Grand Ardèche Chardonnay 2007 Louis Latour, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardèche £8.49 or Buy 2 bottles save £1 = £7.99

It might only be Vin de Pays, but this is a stunning wine.

A great example of just how silky and buttery an oaked chardonnay can be, the ‘Grand Ardeche’ is sophisticated and very sensibly priced.

Maison Louis Latour is world-famous for selecting wines of the highest of quality to appear in its negociant catalogue and this is no exception.

It’s got richness, roundness and depth, with the most beautiful nuttiness and toasted character.

It takes character of the best of Burgundy, the volume of a Bordelaise estate and the sheer pioneering spirit of the Languedoc, rolling out at the price of a wine half it’s quality.

Superb.

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