I remember hearing about this about eight or ten months ago, but now apparently it is official. France has taken one tiny step towards modern wine marketing. In a slightly odd, but I predict successful move, a whole new class of wines are now eligible to be labeled “Sud de France,” or South of France. This is not a new Appellation d’Origine (yes my title is a little misleading), but a brand or labeling scheme that unites all 19 of the different appellations in the Languedoc Roussillon, plus nearly 15,000 village producers under a single designation. Now any wine produced in this region has the option of also including a blue banner with the South of France designation around the neck of the bottle.
This is the first such labeling scheme that I’ve heard about, and as the Languedoc is the largest wine producing region in France, it has has the potential to affect a lot of wines. Will the impact be dramatic? I don’t think so, but I think it will help some of these wines in international markets, and it is a first step in the right direction towards allowing French wines to have alternate labeling in addition to or even instead of their traditional designations.
Whether more established producers of higher-end wines end up using these ribbons will be interesting to see, but I certainly expect a lot of the lower end wines (and there are a lot of them from this region of France) to adopt the new convention.