Tomorrow is judgement day for Olivier Cousin who has been taken to court for incorrectly labelling one of his wines ‘Anjou’ when in fact he has been working in Vin de France and not appellation. Growers choose to label their wines as Vin de France as it gives them much more flexibility whereas appellation legislation is very tight and controls everything from place, grape, yield, pruning, minimum alcohol and typicity.
Vin de France wines are not allowed to show a ‘place of origin’ so by putting the word Anjou on the label Olivier Cousin is effectively breaking the law. He’s a natural, organic winemaker who uses horses in his vineyards to plough the soil and maintain its structure.
He faces a prison sentence and a very heavy fine for sticking to his guns on this issue. On the one hand I have a lot of sympathy for him – appellation laws can be stifling for the producer, inhibit innovation and rule out wines that do not fall into the boundaries of what is considered typical. However, it has to be said that he has technically broken the law and he would have been very aware of this.
Whether it has been worth spending thousands of euros of public money prosecuting a grower that has done something that flags up the issues of the appellation system but doesn’t really affect anyone else, is a matter for conjecture.
Everyone is invited to join him before the Palais de Justice in Angers tomorrow where the judgement will be given.