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by Cyril Penn | October 23, 2013 | 12:00 PM

Sometimes we're asked why a certain item makes it to the top of the News Links on our home page.

Today's top news story is actually a "press release." So why is it of interest?

As we know, France in some respects competes against New World wine countries in export markets such as the U.S. with one hand tied behind its back—the rigorous laws governing production in France honor tradition but leave little ability for winemakers to be creative, innovate and experiment.

Well, there's this new "Vin de France" designation that could be a game changer in the U.S. market.

The designation simplifies the French wine offer. Winemakers for the first time are permitted to blend grapes from different regions in France for consistent taste profiles from vintage to vintage. These wines can be a single varietal or a blend from large or small producers. Brand, varietal, vintage and country of origin are all listed on the label.

The designation was actually created back in 2009 and represents almost 400 million liters of wine, 750 growers and 25 percent of French wine exports by volume so far. A small winery in Bordeaux can plant Syrah and call it Syrah, vin de France. Small growers have been creating exclusive cuvees with the designation and it has implications for the larger wineries.

Use of the designation is just getting going in the U.S. because TTB didn't allow vintage dating on country-of-origin wines until recently.

Now comes the push in the U.S. market: Anivin de France president Bruno Kessler and his colleagues were in San Francisco yesterday and will be in New York tomorrow presenting Vin de France wines to the trade. Anivin de France will be marketing the category in the U.S. for at least the next two years.

“We’re starting to push and communicate on vin de France in the U.S., since we now can market the brands and products the way we want,” Kessler explained. “Before, everything was based on a very traditional way of thinking. Now it’s a new generation of wine, where you can 'cook the grape' the way you want."

“People are very excited because they will make exactly the wines needed by the customers, and all for a very affordable price," Kessler said. Our target is between $9 and $12—the most exciting dynamic in the U.S. When we discuss this with wineries and distributors, they are very happy to see that.”

“Most of France is cool climate,” Kessler said. “Most of the New World cool climate wines are quite expensive. We can bring very affordable cool climate wines to the market - which is tough to achieve in most of the new world countries. And we can blend a lot of interesting local varieties with international varieties. We can cook really nice dishes.”


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