Paula Goddard’s Wines of the Week starting 25th February 2019
So what has the European Union ever done for us wine drinkers? Well quite a bit as it happens. Because until Britain joined the EEC (as it was then known) in 1973 we, British wine merchants that is, didn’t have to obey French wine laws concerning the labelling and identification of French wines imported in bulk and then bottled in the UK. This led to some interesting additions to nominally French wines that the wine purchaser had no idea they were buying.
Andrew Barr explains in his 1988 book Wine Snobbery: An Insider’s Guide to the Booze Business (available secondhand online from Amazon.co.uk) that it was common practice to beef-up a weak wine of low alcoholic strength and little flavour from a poor harvest with a stronger, more flavourful wine, blended in.
One ‘well-known company’, that Barr highlights, imported Burgundy wine and bottled it in the UK under their own brand name and labelled ‘Nuits-Saint-Georges’ (an actual area of the Burgundy wine region that makes wine selling at 2019 prices from anywhere between £30 and £130 a bottle) made from a blend of 85 per cent Burgundy, 10 per cent Moroccan red, 5 per cent port and a little glycerine (for added smoothness).
Although the UK joined the EEC in 1973, we were given three years’ grace on those pesky wine labelling and bottling laws – so it wasn’t until 1977 that French, and other European wine laws were followed. Barr suggests that it would be wise to be very wary of pre-1977 British-bottled Burgundies.
Since that time wine purchasers can be more certain of what they are buying. Yes some wine scandals are still occurring but for the everyday bottle of wine bought from the supermarket or the High Street retailer, what we are getting is what it says on the label.
Thank you EEC.
PG Wine Reviews
Tesco Finest Argentinean Malbec 2017
Sweet flavours of milk chocolate and plum.
Tesco Vina del Cura Spanish Rioja 2017
Liquorice and plum. Tastes a bit cooked.
SPAR Sicilian Grillo 2017, white
Aromas of peach with flavours of light orange and apple. Ideal to enjoy on a warm February day.
Medici Riccardi Italian Chianti Classico Riserva 2014
A connoiseurs choice. The flavour is lighter than the aromas of violets, chocolate, cherries and blueberries lead you to expect. Nicely done.