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04.27.2006

The Government Is Always Right. Right?

File this one under protectionism, cross referenced with idiocy. I tend to give the French government and trade bodies a lot of shit because of stupid appellation rules, but today the French get a pass. Its the Spanish who need to have their heads examined after passing legislation last month stipulating that in order to put the DO (Denominación de Origen) status on their wines the bottles need to be closed with a cork. And only a cork. To put a finer point on it, if you don't have a cork in the bottle then you can't call your wine a Montsant. Even if it meets every other regulation of the appellation.

This is the second dumbest wine regulation in history (the first being the law passed by the French outlawing UFOs in their vineyards), and is tantamount to protectionism for the cork industry. Why didn't they just go ahead and say that the foil capsules all had to be made out of plastic, too? Or that the labels all needed to use sans serif fonts?

Of course, the real reason they are doing this is probably that some legislator cum wine snob has a thing for the "authenticity of corks" and believes that screwaps and other alternative closures are inferior. But if that was really the case, why is it that a prominent Portugese winery (most corks come from Portugal) has abandoned corks and gone to screwcaps?

If you're the cynical type, it's also not hard to imagine that some legislator might have been paid off by APCOR (Associação Portuguesa da Cortiça) the major cork producers consortium in Portugal.

I hope this move doesn't drive any Spanish winemakers out of business. Corks are expensive and to demand they stopper up an $8 bottle of Penedes is a little onerous, in addition to being inane.

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