cuvee and meritage?

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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:25 pm

Bob Ross wrote:" winesearcher shows a number of Meritage designation wines available in the UK."

Maybe the EU negotiators traded restricting "Meritage" for grandfathering "Claret".


Eh? Why would US negotiators want to restrict US wine using the term Meritage in the EU so thay can continue to use claret? Why would the EU care, Meritage is not a term used in the EU
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:31 pm

I worked in the UK trade before coming to the US, and claret then (twenty years ago) had a very clear meaning: red wine from Bordeaux. It wasn't used on labels, though, except perhaps for relatively inexpensive house brands bottled by or for the UK merchants (ie although Petrus is certainly Claret it would never have been labelled as such).

I understand the word to be an English corruption of the word 'clairet', used to describe pale red wines, such as those of Bordeaux when the word was coined.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:51 pm

But never of course in the United Kingdom. :)

Wouldn't it have been better, Peter, if the UK had admitted France to the Commonwealth fifty years ago. When that diplomatic probe was parried, France was driven into the arms of Germany, and we are now all in thrall to the bureaucrats in Brussels.

Would Downing Street be as piss anty about vinous linguistic purity if France were in the Commonwealth? I rather doubt it given the flexibility it has historically shown with the word "claret". And with the Aussies to provide some needed balance in the negotiations.

[But I'm not going into the sparkling world -- gotta follow my claret brick road as far as it will take me. I'm just afraid Brussels might prohibit the word "claret" in all of the postage stamp catalogs -- including Stanley Gibbons -- so I'll have to do a massive re-write of my album pages. :( ]

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Hoke » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:58 pm

So, Bob: do we have to take the words "Burgundy" and "Claret" off all the color descriptors for paint and fabric and such now, so as not to offend the EU word police?

:mrgreen:
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:00 pm

"Eh? Why would US negotiators want to restrict US wine using the term Meritage in the EU so thay can continue to use claret? Why would the EU care, Meritage is not a term used in the EU."

Damned if I know, Peter -- it's easy enough to find out and I've written for a definitive answer.

Speculation is great fun, and I'll give you a speculative answer to your question while we wait for a final ruling. Perhaps the EU negotiators feared the use of the word "Meritage" would be used in future. After all, isn't all this hoopla about the names of wines an effort to create trade barriers and reduce the ability of wines from outside the EU from competing with wines produced in the EU?

Or, have the trade negotiators suddenly been stricken with a desire to help us all regain linguistic purity?
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:01 pm

And don't forget "claret" for upholstery, Hoke. Heavens forfend! :shock:
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:03 pm

Hoke,

I don't think there's anything wrong with the EU protecting place names.

My take on the the US use of foreign place names to describe American wine is that it came from a time when the US product was felt to be inferior. Now that American wines have come into their own, and are seen that way by US consumers, such misuse is fading.

I was very amused to see the outrage by US Zinfandel producers at the use of the Zinfandel name to describe Primitivo from Apulia...
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Peter May » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:05 pm

Bob Ross wrote:
Would Downing Street be as piss anty about vinous linguistic purity



Well, if you guys are so keen on globalization and WTO in order to force us to import your Frankenstein crops , you have to accept the reverse side of the coin. World trade means that when a wine says Burgundy etc it should means the same everywhere. Simple consumer protection and ease for exporters.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:32 pm

Peter May wrote:
Bob Ross wrote: -- is one from the Isle of Jersey considered British? .


Let's not go there ......


Peter,

You could ask Bob if one from the land of New Jersey can be considered American...
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:50 pm

Hey, Peter, we are starting to sound like trade negotiators, here -- not so much fun, frankly.

1. A couple of factual questions: do you have any learning on whether the discussions about how "Claret" "designates" a place, i.e. Bordeaux?

The only thing I've read indicates the British negotiators at the EU were able to show that the word "claret" had been used in English to describe wine for over 300 years. But nothing about the standard of proof that it had been used to describe wines made from grapes grown in Bordeaux.

It would be great fun to compare the sources I've found with whatever the British negotiators used on the place question.

2. I notice on Wine Searcher Pro that wine merchants often add the word "Burgundy" to the names of wines on offer, e.g. Bougogne Chardonnay, Recolte de Chateau de Chassagne-Montrachet, Maison Michel Picard France - Burgundy, 2006 $16.27
Bottle
24-Jan-2007

Would that be common in the UK in brick and mortar shops? In printed catalogs?

I'm asking in large part because my impression is that British wine consumers are much more sophisticated, by and large, that American wine consumers.

Thanks, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:52 pm

Oh, Fudge, Thomas. :)

"You could ask Bob if one from the land of New Jersey can be considered American..."

I was so careful to go back and edit in "Isle of" just to cut off that comment. Damn, some days a guy can't get a break. :(
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:03 pm

Thanks for the data point, Oliver, on the usage of "claret" 20 years ago in the UK.

"I understand the word to be an English corruption of the word 'clairet', used to describe pale red wines, such as those of Bordeaux when the word was coined."

That may be correct, Oliver, at least as a top level explanation. I'm still struggling though with a number of alternative explanations -- for example, one of my heroes,
T. G. Shaw speculates that the word "Claret" was a corruption of "Clairette", a wine region lying far up river from Bordeaux. There are other alternative explanations, as well, including some confusion over how the word was attached to wines from Bordeaux.

Do you have a written source for your understanding of the source of "Claret"? I'd love to check their reasoning and sources against what I've found.

Many thanks, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Hoke » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:05 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Hoke,

I don't think there's anything wrong with the EU protecting place names.

My take on the the US use of foreign place names to describe American wine is that it came from a time when the US product was felt to be inferior. Now that American wines have come into their own, and are seen that way by US consumers, such misuse is fading.

I was very amused to see the outrage by US Zinfandel producers at the use of the Zinfandel name to describe Primitivo from Apulia...


Oliver: I don't think there's anything wrong with it either. Not at all. In fact, I believe it is totally appropriate. I support it.

Place names. But claret, to me, is not a place name, and it's general usage over the many years (illuminated by Bob) supports that it is not. Point to a place on the map where there is a "claret".

Bordeaux, yes. I'll even go with Burgundy (an Anglicization of Bourgogne, which is what the French use. But claret? Nope. And I'd have to put Hock in the same category. Also have to put words like "vintage" in the same category. I don't consider them place names.

As to the original US use of European place names, I agree that part of the practice was because American wines were considered inferior (and almost inevitably, they were, then). But another reason for the usage was less..shall we say nefarious, or misleading...and more about an easy way for the consumer to understand, in a very general sense, what the product was supposed to be---or pretend to be.

Granted, that there were no rules imposed. Indeed, that there were no rules at all in the wild and wooly West, since there were no restrictions in law, just muddied the issue, is regrettable. But understandable.

I really don't believe the original perpetrators of misuse thought they were going to fool anybody. Do you? Would you have been so gullible (whether wine knowledgeable or not) to believe in the 1800s that a California producer was making and selling "Burgundy" or "Champagne" that was every bit as good, or anywhere like, the Real Stuff? I doubt it.

When I first travelled to Chile in 1994, I couldn't help but notice (because it was common practice) to see Chilean wines sold (in-country only) with names like "Margaux" and "Pauillac" and "Pomerol".

Funny thing: not once did they ever deceive me into thinking that the actual product, or even the actual style, of Margaux, Pauillac and Pomerol were in the bottle. And I seriously doubt that they ever deceived any person who bought one of those bottle.

You know, I'd be much more sympathetic to the moans and groans of the EU, and especially the Champenoise, did I not know that for many years the revered firm of Moet et Chandon sold their product produced in Argentina as "Champana", only to change it when they became militant about protecting their parent name for their most famous product. Then, of course, later, they brought the same product in to the USA and labelled it in such a manner that it was very difficult to know the product was from Argentina, and by marketing it as Chandon, led consumers to believe that it was from California
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:20 pm

Hoke, let me chime in on one other really important point; until 1936 and 1937, there was no legal system at all requiring place names. France instituted the very first system during the Great Depression to cure many of its own internal problems.

Naming conventions before that time were wild and woolly all over the wine world. HRH Jancis described the sitch in the Oxford Second as follows: Oxford Third is generally in sync:

France's role as a wine producer had been gravely affected by the viticultural devastation caused by powdery mildew, downy mildew, and phylloxera in the second half of the 19th century (see France, history). Fine wines were available in much-reduced quantity, but the Languedoc and Algeria had become vast factories for the production of very ordinary wine at very low prices. Laws passed in the first two decades of the 20th century were aimed at bringing an end to the adulteration and fraud that was by then widespread. These were based simply on the principle of geographical delimitation, and specified particular areas within which certain wines had to be produced. Bordeaux, Banyuls, and Clairette de Die were among the first; disagreement about exactly which districts should be allowed to produce France's most famous sparkling wine led to riots (see Champagne, history).

It rapidly became clear, however, that France's famous wines depended on more than geography. The wrong grape varieties and careless wine-making would not result in a suitable expression of these carefully delimited terroirs. By 1923, Baron le Roy, the most influential and well-connected producer of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, was implementing in his part of the southern Rhône a much more detailed set of rules including not just geographical delimitation but a specification of permitted vine varieties, pruning, and vine-training methods, and minimum alcoholic strength. (The Châteauneuf rules also insisted on a compulsory rejection or triage of imperfect grapes, and that no rosé be produced within the zone.)

The French appellation contrôlée system evolved into a national reality in the 1930s when economic depression, widespread cultivation of hybrids, and a serious wine surplus (see surplus production) increased the incentive for wine merchants to indulge in nefarious blending. The producers of genuine Pommard, for example, had a very real interest in limiting the use of their name to themselves. In 1935 the INAO was created with the express mission of drawing up and enforcing specifications for individual AOCs, or ACs, which broadly followed the Châteauneuf prototype, and in principle banned hybrids from AC wine (if not spirit; see armagnac) production.

The great majority of the appellation regulations for France's most famous wines and spirits are therefore dated 1936 or 1937, although they have been continuously revised since. The VDQS category for wines deemed just below AC status was created in 1949 and is also administered by the INAO. The scheme was extended to cheeses in 1955 and now includes Puy lentils, Grenoble walnuts, Bresse poultry, certain butters, and Provencal lavender oil.


We need to be very careful about criticizing -- and perhaps be a bit generous in spirit -- our predecessors for not following the rules that we are debating and negotiating today. I was surprised to see that even today not all French wines are administered by the INAO.

During the very same period France was establishing and refining their system, the US was establishing a system based on grape varieties. Later it adopted the AVA system, recognizing the value of place in labeling wines. Oliver, you and I all agree that place is important. The implementation though is not simple.

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Hoke » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:23 pm

Many thanks, Bob, for mentioning and linking the T. G. Shaw book. I can see why you love it so much. Fascinating.

If nothing else (and there was a great deal else) I learned never to accept the offer of a glass of Hamburg or Elbe sherry. :D

And the mention, early on, of Paisley, versus paisley, was highly illuminating, as an example of a place, a method, and a common cloth pattern transitioning in common usage and parlance.

Once again, thanks.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:32 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Do you have a written source for your understanding of the source of "Claret"? I'd love to check their reasoning and sources against what I've found.

Many thanks, Bob


Certainly, Bob, the always useful Oxford Companion makes the connection between claret and 'clairet'. As always a pithy entry.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:38 pm

Hoke,

I was referring to your mention of Burgundy, not Claret.

I would certainly think the word Vintage, as in Vintage Port, might be protected, but style words are much less clear-cut than place names.

It's interesting to note that US wine and cheese producers have been much less likely to use foreign names as the quality of their efforts has increased. When I first moved to the US the word 'imported' was used in labelling as if it meant 'clearly superior;' no longer, I think, or at least not as often.

(Champagne and Cheddar have always been widely abused, perhaps in part because both words describe both a place and a method of production.)
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Hoke » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:51 pm

Champagne and Cheddar have always been widely abused, perhaps in part because both words describe both a place and a method of production.)


Excellent point there, Oliver. I think there should be a clear distinction made between the PLACE and the METHOD. Place should be protected. I question whether a Method should be suitably protected. Yet the Champenoise have aggresively attempted to protect any referral to the Method.

I can understand protecting the use of the word "Champagne" to only that product produced in the province of Champagne, and the Champagenoise having control of how that word is regulated as well. (Of course, if one wanted to be specious, one could always bring up Champagne in Switzerland and Campania in Italy to confuse and obfuscate the Champenoise seizure of the place word. :mrgreen: )

But I fail to understand them adamantly refusing to allow "Method Champenoise", especially if in all other respects there are strict regulations as to clear label declaration of place of origin. If I see "Methode Champenoise" in small print beneath "California Sparkling Wine" and "Napa Valley" or "Sonoma Russian River" or " Barossa Valley, Australia" or "Stellenbosch, South Africa", I fail to see how there can be any confusion over the product.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:52 pm

"I really don't believe the original perpetrators of misuse thought they were going to fool anybody. Do you?"

Hoke,

I do, just like the use of grape variety names didn't get off to an "honest" start in California...but then, I have been known to think the best of marketers...and Bob says I remind him of Martin Ray.

Bob,

Didn't Shaw refer in his book to having gotten a precise etymology (claret) from someone? Ws that the Clairette reference you make?

As an aside, in the early 1980s a Finger Lakes producer, Heron Hill, applied to the BATF for label approval of a proprietary name for a light, red wine: Clairet. He won approval and sold his Clairet under the Otter Spring label until the late 1990s. Paul B. will love this: I believe it was produced from Foch.

Peter,

Have you ever seen that label? Otter Spring Clairet.
If you'd like, I can try to find one for you.
Last edited by Thomas on Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Bob Ross » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:52 pm

Thanks, Oliver. I've been tracing the sources there, and have some doubts, frankly. But more anon.

In the meantime, another of my heroes, Cyrus Redding accepts your (and Jancis') derivation of the word "claret", without explanation. Shaw who wrote ten years later, takes a couple of whacks at Redding, and disagrees on the derivation point, among others

Both writers are quite modern in outlook and great fun to read. They both would be great contributors to WLDG. :)

More anon.

Regards, Bob
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:12 pm

Keep us informed, Bob.

Note that the entry in question appears to have been written by Tim Unwin, not Robinson. Perhaps you could email him - http://www.gg.rhul.ac.uk/Tim/contacts.html
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Steve Slatcher » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:04 pm

Bob Ross wrote:The only thing I've read indicates the British negotiators at the EU were able to show that the word "claret" had been used in English to describe wine for over 300 years. But nothing about the standard of proof that it had been used to describe wines made from grapes grown in Bordeaux.

But it was not so long ago (just before the UK joined the Common Market I believe) that the use of the word "Bordeaux" in the UK had no guarantee of origin associated with it. Neither did "Nuits St George" or "Hermitage" etc. These were all regarded as generic descriptors of style that may or may not have come from the places on the label, and it was fair game for wine merchants to blend as they saw fit to produce a product that would sell well.

I wonder if it is these practices that have lead us Brits to be somewhat more inclined to accept the concept of name protection...? We are generally not particularly pleased about Brussels dictating what we are allowed to call things, but with wines I do not remember much of a fuss being caused. Or it may just that I was too young at the time.
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Thomas » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:49 pm

steve.slatcher wrote:
Bob Ross wrote:The only thing I've read indicates the British negotiators at the EU were able to show that the word "claret" had been used in English to describe wine for over 300 years. But nothing about the standard of proof that it had been used to describe wines made from grapes grown in Bordeaux.

But it was not so long ago (just before the UK joined the Common Market I believe) that the use of the word "Bordeaux" in the UK had no guarantee of origin associated with it. Neither did "Nuits St George" or "Hermitage" etc. These were all regarded as generic descriptors of style that may or may not have come from the places on the label, and it was fair game for wine merchants to blend as they saw fit to produce a product that would sell well.

I wonder if it is these practices that have lead us Brits to be somewhat more inclined to accept the concept of name protection...? We are generally not particularly pleased about Brussels dictating what we are allowed to call things, but with wines I do not remember much of a fuss being caused. Or it may just that I was too young at the time.


Steve,

"I wonder if it is these practices that have lead us Brits to be somewhat more inclined to accept the concept of name protection...?"

We read too much into these things. It's a simple case of who's got the power at whatever given moment. EU is on the rise...;)
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Re: cuvee and meritage?

Postby Hoke » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:52 pm

We read too much into these things. It's a simple case of who's got the power at whatever given moment. EU is on the rise...
_________________


Sooooo, Thomas---Brussels Rules!!!

That should get some British knickers twisted. :twisted:
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