Of course, for all the rules and regulations attached to both, neither AOC nor AOP has anything to do with what really matters: the quality of the wine. And this point was reinforced at the tutored dégustation yesterday morning, with your correspondent in attendance in seat A1, which meant I was the last rather than the first person to receive my tasting sample of each of the eight Gold medal-winning wines on offer. (Had the Sox not waited until the 19th inning to lose in Anaheim, I would have arrived in time to sit anonymously and with tasting priority at the back!)
It is over a decade now since I found myself in full agreement with the worthy men and women of the Syndicat des Vignerons du Duché d’Uzès and try as he might, the charming and articulate M. Michel Guerber, our expert œnologue, was unable to convince me that these were the best wines in each category from our region this year.
The white wines were over-reliant on the aromatic Viognier in the blend for body and style. The rosé wines were made in a manner which is neither refreshingly Provençal nor the only-with-food rich fruit of the Tavel style, although both winners were Grenache-dominant.
And the reds? Once again, I was profoundly disappointed. All were 2012, so perhaps a year too young for any Rhône blend to be drunk with pleasure. But even so, they were thin and tough, with a linear, undeveloped and undeveloping taste; and although I received Brownie points amongst my fellow-tasters for my comment about them being charnu, the taste to which I referred was more unadulterated wood than soft, integrated tannins.
And it was with this taste still fresh in my mouth that I left the 39th Foire. I am proud of our local wines, and pleased for those vignerons who have worked so hard to achieve the elevation to AOC – sorry, AOP – status. But I am concerned that too much effort is being devoted to the production of wines which meet all the increasingly numerous rules of the appellation but which lack individuality and flair.
They are, I am afraid, what HRH Jancis would term 'serviceable'.
What they are not, unfortunately, is inspired or inspiring. Dommage!
Today from the everysmith vaults: Once in a while, now for example, I tune in to Cassandra Wilson, shuffling her to listen to the full range of jazz, pop, blues, covers and originals. It's a beautiful voice - totally at home in this eclectic repertoire.