France cannot sell its wines abroad if they are considered a ‘poison’ at home Alain Suguenot, president of the French government’s viticultural studies group said on Tuesday.

The comment came as Suguenot, also mayor of Beaune, is preparing to hand an official briefing document on the controversial Evin law at the end of June to the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The document aims to persuade the government to alter the 1991 Evin law that allows brands to advertise individually but prohibits collective advertising of the sort practised by the various interprofessional wine bodies in France. It also stipulates that advertisements must be strictly informative and not present alcohol consumption in a glamorous light. Due to the law, the interprofessional wine bodies of both Bordeaux and Burgundy have already been forced to withdraw advertising campaigns earlier this year.

The paper itself is based on three main points, namely that wine is not bad for your health, that the Evin law has not lowered alcohol abuse and that, with particular reference to the current crisis in French wine, the governement’s stance on wine at home will affect its export image.

‘It is difficult to see how the authorities can back wine exports if we say, in France, that it is poison,’ Suguenot told French press agency AFP.

Calling wine a ‘civilised’ and a ‘public health product’, Suguenot said that there was also a cultural and sociological conflict behind the protection of French wine and its world image.

‘It’s bit like McDonalds versus the terroirs,’ he said

Suguenot, however, made it clear that he was not attempting demonise the anti-alcohol groups.

‘We made sure we were objective and the report will reflect all points of view…everyone said what they thought,’ he said.

Written by Oliver Styles