Is “no” the only future for wine in France?
- Thursday 26 February 2004
Yesterday – the day they met with the French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin to discuss the crisis in French wine – the umbrella group called Vin et Société took out prominent adverts in French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro asking ‘L’Interdit est-il le seul avenir du vin en France?’ (‘Is “no” the only future for wine in France’).
According to Le Figaro, French wine exports would have collapsed last year had the great wines of Bordeaux and Champagne not been there to prop up the market. The price of French vineyards has dropped by about 1/3 and The Guardian reported that between 600 and 1,000 small producers are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Today, the adverts continue to appear in French regional daily papers such as ‘Le Bien Publique’ in Beaune.
The question that appears in the advert, that one French wine insider termed ‘existentialist’, refers to the crux of the meeting held between Vin et Société and the prime minister and the minister of agriculture, Hervé Gaymard.
The discussion (pictured) centred on the wine crisis in France and the Evin law of 1991, which prohibits certain forms of alcohol and cigarette advertising. The workings of the law came into question after the Burgundy trade body, the BIVB, had an entire advertising campaign banned by the French courts.
The argument adopted by Vin et Société is that French law makes no differentiation between wine and other alcoholic beverages.
‘Wine is no longer the dangerous drink it was in the late 19th Century. It has returned to its proper place in the gastronomic world of good taste. Wine causes less road accidents than youngsters who drive after coming out of clubs. There is a cultural issue here and wine is a scapegoat,’ Jean-Louis Vézien, the director of the Alsace trade body, the CIVA, told decanter.com.
The consequences for wine consumption have been serious and French wine bodies vehemently opposed the government’s clamp down on drink driving in November last year after restaurants experienced a drop in wine consumption of about 15%.
Although the government stands by the Evin law, the meeting has had some effect. This morning, the Gaymard told the French media that the government would try to ‘make “communication more suited” [to wine] without demonising a product that forms part of our cultural heritage.’
The government says it will receive a detailed study of the problem by the 15 June.
Photograph courtesy of Service photographique de Matignon