Wine-maker beats bureaucrats

A vigneron has won back the right to label his natural wines AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) Pouilly-Fumé and has hit at label inspectors for targeting him in a bid to get him to make a ‘standard’ wine.

21 June 2017
By Samantha David

 Alexandre Bain’s wine from Tracy-sur-Loire was stripped of its AOC label because he missed inspection appointments – but he said he would not have been hard to find as he was outside working on his vines.

He said: “I was targeted because my production methods are natural. I get far more inspections than anyone else, and they are more particular with me.

“They want you to use insecticides, sulphur, yeast, and all sorts of other chemicals. They want every bottle of Pouilly-Fumé exactly the same so they can market it like Coca-Cola. That’s not a wine of the terroire, it’s not natural... it’s factory-made.”

A court in Dijon backed his claim that the sanction applied by standards agency Inao was disproportionate and he can now use the AOC label again.

He said: “Inspectors try to scare you, three of them and you alone. You have to pay for inspections, so they waste your money. It takes hours, so they waste your time...

“But my wine is well-known. I make 40,000 litres a year and sell it all. I’m turning people away. I can afford to fight back.”

The quality of wine was never in dispute – even without the AOC label it was in 21 of the 52 best restaurants in the world – and he said: “It’s a typical example of the French madness. Out-of-control paperwork, administration and bureaucracy which serves absolutely nothing at all.

“AOC is no guarantee of quality any more, it’s a guarantee of conformity. Some of the best wines are being sold as ‘Vins de France’ and in the end that is bad for business, but they think it’s good because they think you can sell a standardised product better.”

Mr Bain, who uses carthorses in his vines not tractors, says just three people pick his organic grapes, by hand, and he wants to make natural wine to “leave the land alive and healthy, not killed by chemicals”.

“My Pouilly Fumé wine is real, authentic fruit of the land.

“When you drink it you get a pleasurable vibration throughout your body. You realise you’re drinking something exceptional, not a standardised product.”

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