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  Editorial Issue 50, March 2007   
What Are Appellations For?What Are Appellations For? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 49, February 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 51, April 2007

What Are Appellations For?


 Appellations are useful. The point is to understand what they are indeed for, or better to say, to understand whether their purpose is to safeguard the tradition and typicality of a wine - last but not the least, its quality - or they play a solely commercial and speculative role. It probably is both things. In its “essential” form, appellations are laws defining and regulating the production of a specific wine, by defining the territory in which it can be produced, viticultural practices and grapes allowed, wine making techniques and the organoleptic qualities a wine must have in order to belong to that appellation. In other words, it is an “attempt” to define a product in legal terms. The pretension of defining quality according to laws and obligations is a kind of utopia, as - fist of all - quality is a precise productive choice requiring specific criteria going beyond the impositions, although necessary, of a law.


 

 If we consider production disciplinary as a tool useful for the safeguarding of typical products in their definition, therefore the usefulness of a law seems to be more appropriate. The safeguarding of typical products of a territory - every territory - is legitimate and it is right they must be safeguarded against any possible fraud or forgery. It is therefore desirable there are specific laws - disciplinary - having the role of regulating the production of a typical product, such as wine, as well as setting criteria in order to ensure their recognizability and a sense of belonging to that specific product. Although it is too much evident a specific product, with its unique and specific qualities, can be exclusively produced in a specified territory, the temptation of producing something similar elsewhere, in particular when a product becomes famous and looked for, it is something which frequently happens and with the only goal of making profits, not for the love of quality, of course.

 Appellations are also useful to conquer new market shares, to keep and consolidate the ones already conquered and to avoid to lose them. To this reason may in fact make think the decision of France and Spain about the imminent release of “national” appellations and which will be recognizable with the indications Vignobles de France for French wines and Viñedos de España for Spanish ones. In both cases, the commercial goal is evident. They are two preventive measures which should help French and Spanish wines to get new market shares and, at the same time, to get back the lost ones, taking advantage of “France” and “Spain” names for the promotion and spreading of their wines. As for Vignobles de France appellation, the intent of using this new appellation as a marketing strategy has been clearly stated. French producers in fact believes thanks to this new “national” appellation it will be possible to compete with the producers of the New World.

 The decision has however had strong detractors, as well as strong supporters. Supporters of this appellation in fact assert it will be useful for a better understanding of French wines in the world and will allow producers to adapt their products according to the different taste of consumers. According to the opinion of this measure's supporters, this should be enough in order to convince again the consumers of other countries in favor of French wines, in particular in those countries where France lost market shares. The new Vignobles de France appellation will allow producers - for the first time - to blend wines belonging to vin de pays appellations and coming from different regions and to sell them under the generic “France” appellation. In the label of these wines must be stated the qualities of grapes used for the production and which can be harvested in the 64 areas of France, excluding Alsace and Champagne, areas in which are being produced AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) wines only.

 Also the new appellation released in Spain - Viñedos de España - has been cause of pretty negative opinions from producers of the main wine areas of the country. Among the strongest detractors of this new appellation emerges the position of La Rioja, one of the main wine areas in Spain and that, more than others, contributes to the identification of Spanish wines in the world. Producers of La Rioja in fact believe the national Viñedos de España appellation can be detrimental for Spanish quality wines, as this way will make possible the commercialization of ordinary quality wines while taking advantage of the Spain “brand”. All that - according to La Rioja producers - will be harmful for wines currently belonging to quality appellations of the whole country. Supporters of this new appellation assert it will be useful to make a recognizable national quality model. An enterprise which seems to be very hard without to support of producers from the most important wine areas of Spain.

 What do consumers think about the role and the utility of appellations? In the past months we asked our readers their opinions about some aspects concerning appellations, their importance in production and in the choice of wines. According to our polls, consumers think appellations play a pretty important role. They are important for the safeguarding of quality and influence their choices at the moment of purchase. In a poll in which we asked our readers about the best Italian appellation according to the real quality of its wines, most of them said the best wines are the ones belonging to DOCG appellation, that is the highest ranking of the system. This should make legislators think a little. If it is true appellations are considered important by consumers, it is also true they must also ensure a high level of quality. In other words, an appellation, as such, is not enough to catch the interest of consumers. They also want quality. The case of IGT appellation is singular: despite it is lower - at least in theory - than DOC, according to our polls, consumers believe this appellation has a quality similar to DOC. Appellations are important, however they are not enough to convince consumers, because - first of all - consumers look for quality expressed by facts, not only set by law or because of commercial speculation reasons.

 



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column ABC Wine 
  Editorial Issue 50, March 2007   
What Are Appellations For?What Are Appellations For? MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 49, February 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 51, April 2007

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

I noticed at the beginning of vineyards are being planted roses or fruit trees - such as cherries - as well as wild fruits plants or olive trees. What are they for? Do they have a specific function in the cultivation of vine?
Danilo Cussolotto -- Verona (Italy)
The custom of planting a rose at the beginning of each row in a vineyard does not have any essential function for the cultivation of the vine, however it plays a “guarding” role against the presence of possible diseases or parasites. As the rose is more sensitive than vine, in case conditions for the propagation of a disease should take place, the rose will be affected in advance than vine, therefore allowing a proper prevention before the disease would attack the vine as well.



Are there any wine produced without sulfites? In case there are, could you please suggest some producers who do not make use of these preservatives?
Andrea Ossi -- Formignana, Ferrara (Italy)
The use of sulfites in wine making - in particular sulfur dioxide - is considered fundamental in order to ensure wine stability while avoiding alterations which could compromise organoleptic qualities. In its many forms - by burning sulfur discs, potassium metabisulfite, spray cans and liquid solutions - sulfur dioxide is virtually used in any phase of wine making, from the must to bottling. Also in the production of organic wine - despite the limits are far lower than the ones allowed in conventional wine making - the use of sulfur dioxide is allowed in order to ensure the wine a better stability and protection against faults. We do not know about any producer making no use of sulfites - something which we think to be pretty impossible because of the above mentioned reasons - however it is known many producers state they use lower quantities of sulfur dioxide than the ones allowed by law.



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  Editorial Issue 50, March 2007   
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