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Loire winemaker faces fine for defying appellation body

Prosecutors in France's Loire region have asked for a local winemaker to be fined for allegedly tricking consumers by wrongly linking his vin de table to the appellation controlee system.

Olivier Cousin (centre) in court, being spoken to by his own lawyer, Eric Morain. Image: Jim Budd

Biodynamic wine producer Olivier Cousin faces a €5,000 fine and an extra levy of up to 20 cents for each of the 2,800 wrongly labelled bottles.

Cousin went before a court in Angers earlier this month, charged with several labelling offences, and in particular the use of Anjou Pur Breton on a vin de table.

He opted out of the Anjou appellation system in 2005 and both the public prosecutor and the lawyer for France’s national appellation body, Alain Fouquet, accused Cousin of profiting from the hard work of those still part of the Anjou denomination.

Those outside of the AOC cannot use the Anjou name on bottles.

In court, Cousin’s lawyer, Eric Morain, said the winemaker changed his labels after the first complaints in 2011 and accused INAO and the Federation Viticole d’Anjou-Saumur of ‘stealing’ the world Anjou.

Cousin explained that there are now two types of viticulture: industrial and artisanal. His family has been vignerons in Martigné-Briand for generations, he said. He added that bottles of AOC Anjou could be bought in local supermarkets for less than €2.

Between 200 to 250 of Cousin’s supporters gathered for a picnic in front of the court, and he rode out to greet them on a horse after the hearing.

He told them, ‘Whatever the outcome, I have already won, because this case has raised a lot of issues. People are talking about the two different types of viticulture.’

Written by Jim Budd

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