French Winemakers Up in Arms Over Change in “Château” Law

When a wine from France is labeled “Château,” it means that the grapes used in the wine’s production were grown entirely on a specific patch of land. This area gives the wine its “terroir.” Terroir is the set of characteristics passed onto the wine from that land. Wine enthusiasts often try to taste the terroir of the wine, and some can even identify where the grapes were grown by taste alone. However, a recent proposal by the European Commission has French winemakers reeling. They have proposed a change in the law so that American wines with imported mixtures of grapes can also be labeled as “Château.”

The Change will Confuse the Consumer

French winemakers are worried about the possible change for a myriad of reasons. A committee of winemaking representatives from Bordeaux is fighting to prevent the change, as they feel it will confuse French consumers. Very little wine is imported from the United States into France, but that could change if French consumers don’t realize the wine they are buying is not what they think it is. Wine enthusiasts use the Château label to determine the quality of the wine, and 80% of the wine in France use it to rightfully show off their excellence. The European Commission claims the move is meant to be an exchange with the United States. If they’re allowed to call some of their wines “Château,” they might not be upset if France borrows some of their labeling techniques, such as calling out the grape variety on the bottle.

Alternate Accent Might be a Good Solution

Many years ago, crawfish from South America were going to be boycotted in France because they were called “Château Libertas.” However, the two countries reached an agreement to avoid the boycotts. The company agreed to drop the circumflex so that there would be some distinction between the name and the wine term, so they would just be called “Château Libertas.” Maybe the European Commission should propose the same idea for U.S. wine. Then, French wine enthusiasts would know that “Château” wine was rich in terroir, while “Chateau” wine was simply a moniker.

Until the final ruling comes in from the European Commission, you can rest assured that the French wine you’re buying labeled “Château” is made purely of grapes grown and harvested in that region, as opposed to being brought in just for the production of the wine.

About Classe Wines

At Classe Wines, we aspire to bring consumers wine with soul and true expression of origin.  We understand that the heritage of each wine’s origin comes from passionate wine makers.  For this reason, at our online wine shop, we offer exclusive, unique, high quality, no compromise wines, to bring to the market authentic wines that define regions and showcase the variety of the regions where were made.