Stop the Bastards

As most of us know, one can’t be a little bit pregnant. So why are bastardised wines allowed to present themselves as thoroughbreds?

A recent study I made of the new food labelling regulations,which will come into effect in South African next year made me wonder if the relevant authorities should not also look at the rules the industry has made for itself in terms of variety bottle content.

Technically, if a wine is labelled Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz it is permitted to contain as much as 15% of the wine made from a completely different grape variety. How have we allowed this to be accepted?

The current focus on blends ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ red and white ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ should get one wondering about the real influence of a minority dollop of wine added to a bottle that will end-up bearing the name of the largest component.

For here we have winemakers of blends extolling the virtues of adding 3% of this and 7% and the marked influence it has on the specific wine’s largest components. If such a small percentage of an added variety can have a pronounced effect on the end product, surely we aren’t getting real Cabernet Sauvignon, labelled as Cabernet, when 15% of Shiraz has been added to up the fruit spectrum, yet the wine is bottled as a Cabernet?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it fraud. But what one should be able to expect is that a wine promoted as a single variety should be forced to mention the addition of any other percentages of juice employed to soften, fruiten or spice-up a wine. Conversely, what about permitting purists to bottle their wines under labels of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon or 100% Pure Merlot?

Fortunately for those employing the technique of fobbing off bastard wines bottled under one variety, the government has no clue as to what is going on in the wine industry. So any suggestions will be met with a dumb and, dare I say it, pregnant silence.

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2 thoughts on “Stop the Bastards

  1. In the 1980s Frans Malan at Simonsig took [I think it was] the Wine and Spirit Board to the courts as he wanted to label his Pinotage as 100% as they said it was not necessary for him to say so!

  2. 100% agree. If they want to engage the consumer by naming a variety on the front label then they should have to name every variety by % in the bottle when its not 100%. Why not if the other varieties are there to improve the wine??

    I wrote about this in 2002 http://www.winelabels.org/artvar.htm

    Problem is that the 85/15% is internationally accepted but there is no reason why an area shouldn’t institute a tougher regime for its own wines, as did Oregon in the USA which insisted on 100% in Oregon varietal wines though has I believe relaxed this in face of winery pressure.

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