Picture from the Independent
Francois Hollande is currently le Président de la République Française. He enjoys an approval rating of 13%. His illustrious title doesn’t seem to be doing him much good. People are judging him by what they see.
The 2012 vintage of Les Hauts de Pontet, Château Pontet Canet’s second label has just lost its AOC/AOP status. My guess is that the wine world will take the same view as French voters: their opinion of the wine and chateau will be unaffected by its supposed official status. Sensible buyers will pick up Les Hauts de Pontet in preference to a swathe of dull, often horribly brettanomyces-tainted Bordeaux that happily flaunt an officially sanctioned Appellation on their labels.
The belated creation of the Vin de France designation – which this wine will now proudly and unworriedly carry – was against the will of almost the entire French wine establishment. It was begrudgingly allowed in order to market basic, multi-regional plonk to stupid Anglo Saxons as a competitor to commercial wines from South-East Australia.
Today, as happened in Italy with the move towards Vino da Tavola in the 1980s, the designation is increasingly being adopted by quality-conscious producers who feel stifled by the existing system.
Down the road from Pontet Canet, Chateaux La Lagune and Palmer have both recently launched high quality and well-received transgressive Rhône-Bordeaux blends with a Vin de France status. Those wines – and the 2012 Hauts de Pontet, will probably be enjoyed and remembered long after François Hollande has been more or less forgotten.