Spent the day tasting for what was previously the Top 1oo Vin de Pays competition. Since August 2009, Vin du Pays as a classification for French wines has been replaced byVin de Cépages à Indication Géographique Protégée , which shortens and translates in English to Protected Geographical Indication. Thus Vin de Pays d’Oc will now be IGP Pays d’Oc, or PGI Pays d’Oc, depending on whether or not you use the translated form.
The reason for the change is a move by the European Union to harmonize the protection of local products, not just wine. PGI, which will apply to other foods and drinks as well as wine, has a distinctive logo, which is shared by all the EU member countries.
You’ll still see Vin de Pays on many wines in the marketplace from past vintages, but from the 2010 harvest all VdP wines will be labelled PGI (or IGP). So, on the label you’d previously have seen Domaine XXXX Syrah 2008 Vin de Pays d’Oc, it will now be Domaine XXXX Syrah 2009 Pays d’Oc, Indication Géographique Protégée.
While the effort to harmonize and simplify wine classification is to be lauded, I’m not sure UK consumers will get their heads around this terribly easily. For them, Vin de Pays hasn’t meant a great deal in the past. The problem with it has been that there has been a perceived hierarchy of quality in the various regional classifications, with AOC at the top of the pile, then the little-seen VDQS, then VdP, with Vin de Table at the bottom. But, as consumers have found to their expense, AOC doesn’t guarantee quality at all. Many VdP wines have been far superior to AOC wines.
All this aside, the tasting today was a good one. Tim Atkin had convened a formidable and diverse band of tasters, and we all seemed to work quite well together. The trophy-winning wines were all really impressive, and we filtered down some 600 entries to the Top 100 through two rounds of tasting.