When a Château is not a Château?

by Marta Burgués

According to the traditional definition, accepted as the norm, a “Château” is one of the wines of France with Controlled Denomination of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée – AOC) elaborated exclusively with grapes from a single estate or property. So far so clear.

The problem is that from some countries, especially the United States, where there is no regulation about it, they are trying that this limitation does not affect the so-called American wines, whose production process does not requires this restriction and can be made from grapes purchased elsewhere. So, U.S. producers intend to export wines called “Château” or “Clos” (another denomination subject to controversy) without any restrictions.

Thus, the European Union has been forced to take action on the matter and decide one way or another, a topic that is pouring rivers of ink in the specialized media, as it can affect a number of gaul wineries, always jealous of protecting their products against competitors from other countries, even in the case of countries into the European Economic Area, as has been proven for years in other agricultural and food issues.

Brussels is currently considering this and other matters within the Common Agricultural Policy and the decision does not seem to be clear, because, although overall imports from Europe of American wines have an insignificant weight, there is a fear -that we believe founded- by the French wineries that this may be a mere outpost of other “appropriations” that ultimately can cause serious damage to the industry, in addition to causing some confusion among consumers.

It seems that later this year we will have a verdict, following a request for postponement from the French Ministry of Agriculture to prepare an alternative proposal, according to their own statements. Until then, experts and wine enthusiasts from around the world will have a great conversation topic with guaranteed controversy and surely opposing views.

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