French winemakers facing the continuing New World onslaught have grouped themselves under a new brand called ‘Sud de France,’ uniting both AOC and vins de pays producers across the Languedoc for the first time.

The idea is to create a greater awareness of southern French wines, but some merchants see it as window dressing rather than effective strategy.

‘It will not make a difference. The French have to make better wine on that level and also market it more effectively,’ said Doug Rosen of Arrow Wine, a major Washington DC area retailer.

‘A simple brand name change will not affect the sales of fruitier, more up front and often less expensive Australian alternatives, especially since quite a few of them also get 90 points from Robert Parker,’ he told decanter.com.

Jacques Gravegeal, the new brand’s founder – who announced its creation at ViniSud earlier this year – is more optimistic.

‘Languedoc Roussillon is still the biggest wine-producing region in the world, but it is a hidden region of France. No one knows where it is. When you talk about the south of France it is different, it creates an image in peoples’ minds,’ he told BeverageDaily.com.

Regional government and industry contributed some €20m to market the brand to be introduced next year in supermarkets. The blue ‘South of France’ labels will be attached next to regular wine labels.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos