Robert Parker yesterday criticised French wine producers for the way they package and promote their product.

Speaking at Vinexpo Americas 2004 in Chicago, the American critic blamed the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) system for putting off American consumers brought up on wines distinguished by grape type rather than location of vineyard.

‘At the supermarket level, American consumers buy by grape varietals. For the average consumer the AOC doesn’t mean a thing,’ he said.

He suggested that the sheer number of French wines on the shelves confuses the US consumer. He contrasted this with the success of big brands such as Yellowtail from Australia and Italy’s Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.

‘French wine producers are being beaten at the point of sale because wines from other regions are more accessible,’ he added.

However, he went on to warn the French not to focus on image over content. ‘The labels are a short-term solution, the best solution is putting the best wine possible in the bottle for that price point.’

Written by Jack Martin