Anthony Rose: After the fanfare, has Vin de France delivered?

 

I had high hopes for the Vin de France designation for table wine when it first burst on to the scene four years ago. A new rule letting producers blend wine from different regions and put the grape variety and vintage on the label gave French producers a chance to say goodbye to plonk and compete with New World brands.

According to Valérie Pajotin, who organises the designation, "Vin de France should be viewed as the classification to bring new drinkers into French wine". But, after the fanfare, does it achieve that feat?

This year's competition took place in Paris with 88 wines out of 292 awarded medals by an international jury of trade and press. The star performer for me was sauvignon blanc. The 2012 La Belle Saison Sauvignon Blanc, £7.99, Laithwaites, stood out for its juicy character in which flavours of gooseberry mingled with herbal undertones. As did François Lurton's elderflower-styled 2012 Le Fumé Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, £8.20-£9.50, Bouquet Wines, winebear.com.

One of the few grower's wines in the competition, Noel Bougrier's Loire Valley 2012 Les Abbesses Sauvignon Blanc, £7.99, or £6.99 bottle/case, Laithwaites, was zesty and spring-like in its crispness. In contrast, the 2012 Kiwi Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc, £5.99-£6.16, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, emulated New Zealand with herbal, grapefruit flavours and a dry aftertaste. Also palatable were the tropical citrus 2012 Mongravet Chardonnay, £5.29, Waitrose, and Hervé Sabadeuil's black-cherryish Chante-Clair blend, £6.49, or £5.49 bottle/case, Laithwaites.

It's a pity, though, to see good growers such as French-based Brit Katie Jones, whose Domaine Jones won a gold medal three years ago, dropping out. Why? "I'm not allowed to say my wine comes from the village of Maury in the Roussillon and, unlike IGP Pays d'Oc producers, I get no promotional support from Sud de France." Her 2011 Domaine Jones Fitou by Mademoiselle Jones, £12.99, Majestic, incidentally, is worth seeking out.

Far-sighted merchants like Jean-Claude Mas and François Lurton are aware of the benefits of Vin de France. If the wine is good value, the Vin de France award coupled with an idea of quality (vintage) and style (grape variety) has meaning. "Vin de France is a potential stepping stone for producers to raise their game," says Jean-Claude Mas. For it to become a force to really compete with the New World however, producers need to aim higher. To help them do so, less politics and greater incentives for producers, particularly small growers, would help.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker