Revue du Vin de France editor attacks French government, winemakers

  • Thursday 31 January 2008

The editor of wine magazine La Revue du Vin de France has accused his government of 'contempt' for French culture in a scathing attack in Decanter.

In a guest column in the forthcoming March issue of Decanter, Denis Saverot asks what his country, 'the land of joie de vivre', has come to.

His words came in response to the news published after Christmas that a newspaper, Le Parisien, had been told by a Paris court that an article on Champagne was considered advertising and as such came under the draconian Evin law, regulating alcohol and tobacco advertising.

The court ruled the article should have carried a health warning and the paper was fined. The decision shocked journalists around the world.

In the column, Saverot attacks those he sees as responsible for current state of affairs. He blames French politicians and the health and pharmaceutical lobbies, as well as the wine industry itself.

‘This hygiene crusade is pushing the authorities to put wine in the same boat [as other alcohols and health issues], treating more than 1,000 years of culture with contempt,’ he writes.

Saverot says pharmaceutical firms and the health lobby are closely connected, adding that ‘wine is prozac’s competitor...hence its [the pharmaceutical industry] support of the health associations’ in their attack on alcohol.

Some of his strongest comments are aimed at the wine industry itself. Calling French wine bodies ‘incredibly blind’, he says the industry should have done more to fight the Evin law in 1991.

Using an ‘odious logic’, he says, winemakers calculate that with very few large wine companies in France, only outsiders such as Mondavi or Constellation could have afforded to advertise on prime-time French television. One clause in the proposed Evin Law was a ban on all alcohol advertising on television.

‘So to block the arrival of huge, cash-rich foreign conglomerates, French producers allowed the Evin law in. Now they find themselves in a trap.’

Talking to decanter.com earlier last month, Saverot said France was ‘walking on its head’: there was 'no rhyme or reason’ to the current state of affairs.

  • The March issue of Decanter magazine is out 6 February

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