The wine world – particularly in Europe – has been hit hard by the painful blows struck to the international economy. Producers and sellers have had to deal with increased competition, changes in consumer behavior and deleterious farming factors caused by global warming. As a result, France is overhauling several regulations governing its wine production.
Some of the revisions can be seen as a positive step toward updating the country’s rigid and slightly antiquated rules. For example, in 2009, vin de table wines – the bastard bottlings sitting at the bottom of the French viticultural totem pole – were granted permission to list both vintage and grape variety on their labels.
But some of the changes don’t feel quite so progressive – especially if you’re a little-known grape called Menu-Pineau:
- White grape, also known as Arbois, Herbois, Orbois, Verdet and Petit Pineau
- Minor varietal, native to the Loire Valley – Vouvray and Touraine AOCs, in particular. Although Menu-Pineau is historically linked to the area, it never made a full recovery from Phylloxera in the 1800s and plantings have been in steady decline ever since
- Produces softer, less acidic, more oxidized wines than other popular Loire whites like Sauvignon Blanc
- Will be Touraine AOC forbidden juice, starting in 2016
This doesn’t mean that the handful of vignerons in Touraine who make Menu-Pineau magic will suddenly stop production. Any wine with these grapes simply cannot carry the AOC designation. For those of us who swill the slings and arrows of international misfortune, we will have to make some changes, too: Bringing home these wines will feel like an act of espionage and revolution involving research and out-of-the-way wine shops, instead of just making a trip to the grocery store.