Domaine de l’Ecu, a conscientious estate in Muscadet that makes some of the region’s best wines, has had one of their wines rejected by an approval committee.
To have the right to bear the appellation, a French wine must meet all the rules, which pertain to things like which vines can be planted in a delimited zone, maximum yields and so on. The final aspect of approval is a blind tasting by a committee, allegedly to assure “typicité” or that the wine tastes typical of the region. Usually this is a rubber stamp. But tasting committees, particularly in the Loire Valley where Muscadet lies on the western edge, have been showing a tendency to reject some wines. Paradoxically, those are often singular wines that strive for excellence. In so doing, the AOC system becomes more of an obstruction to quality than an institution to undergird it as it reinforces middling or bland wines.
The estate was founded by Guy Bossard. But it was Frédéric Niger Van Herck, a partner and the winemaker at Domaine de l’Ecu, posted the news that their “Expression de Granite” 2012, one of three bottlings that express the different soil types, has been denied the approval of the tasting committee. Here what he said on FB:
News of the day: Granite 2012 has just been rejected by the AOC tasting committee–and unanimously, no less… Promised for next year, full-on chemistry, mechanical harvesting, commercial yeasts, full use of enzymes, and sulphur galore… It should pass that way.
The worst thing is that everything is sold out and have nothing left… When will these official tastings end that turn the beautiful into standardized products? [my translation]
Long live the French wine!
He elaborated that the panel of five tasters judged his wine to be oxidized, adding “what a bunch of…”
Clearly the AOC has a problem: by rejecting wines from quality producers, they risk becoming a laughingstock by enshrining mediocrity.
(Update) Tech specs on the 2011 Granite:
Grape Variety: 100% Melon de Bourgogne
SURFACE: 3 ha. AGE OF THE VINE: 45-55 years old.
Characteristics of the territory:
Orientation of the slopes is SOUTH WEST. Stony soil. Sub-sol: Two-Mica Granite.
40-45 hl. Soil ploughing and soil scraping. Canopy management.
PRUNING: Simple Guyot.
Vinification and refining:
Organically farmed since 1975. Biodynamic – Demeter certified since 1998.
100 % hand-picked grapes
Reception of the grape harvest by gravity, no use of pumps.
No racking of the must
Fermentation: 100 % natural yeast
Temperature control: 15°- 17 °.
Aged “ON THE LEES” in underground vats
Bettane et Desseauve : 16.5/20 (page 807)
Sélection Parker des vins : vins à moins de 20€ (page 337)
Gault et Millaut : 16/20 (page 998)