Pinot Grigio export ploy gets thumbs down from Alsace wine traditionalists

Alsace wine producers have agreed not to use "Pinot Grigio" to describe their wines in future.

Speaking to OLN at the London wine fair, Thierry Fritsch, of Alsace Wine council CIVA, said some producers had been angered by co-operative Caves de Turckheim's decision to label its 2006 wines a s Pinot Grigio - rather than the traditional Pinot Gris - for the export market.

"The problem is that the image of Pinot Grigio in Britain is quite a low product with very high yields; a diluted wine which is not very high quality," Fritsch said.

Alsace producers including Turckheim have now agreed that, while Pinot Grigio is a better-recognised grape variety in the UK, it is more important to protect the reputation of Alsace, he added.

Caves de Turckheim will revert to using the term Pinot Gris from the 2007 vintage.

EU law has also changed to give precedence to the wishes of local wine councils, so it will now be unlawful for Alsace wineries to use "Pinot Grigio".

Fritsch said total UK sales of Alsace wine had increased by 5 per cent during 2006.

He said producers are being encouraged to put a style indicator on back labels so consumers know how dry or sweet the wine is. CIVA is also encouraging its members to develop more modern-looking wine labels and consider bottling under screwcap.

Alsace Wines will continue to market its wines as ideal matches for Asian food through trade and consumer advertising this year.


Tasting table

Three light and refreshing wines for warm summer days

Piat d'Or Dry White

Supplier: Percy Fox

Winemaker of eight months Nicolas Prevost has tweaked the colours and aromatics of the Piat d'Or range and the dry white (90 per cent Colombard) is a pleasant surprise. Clean apple and citrus notes dominate the nose and palate. RE

Oveja Negra

Sauvignon Blanc/Carmenère 2007

Supplier: Bibendum

Via winemaker Juan Pablo Casas harvests the Carmenère grapes that make up 15 per cent of this white blend very early and unripe by hand at night, then uses carbon and enzymes in a slow pressing to get the clear juice without any tannins. The result is a fresh, green, herbaceous wine more like a cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc than Chile usually produces . Very zingy and drinkable. CB

Apostoles Palo Cortado VORS rrp £13/50cl

Supplier: Gonzalez Byass

This 30 Year Old palo cortado, sweetened with 7 per cent Pedro Ximenez, is more of a rollercoaster ride for your taste buds than a beverage. Copper with a green edge, it has a nutty, almondy nose with hints of raisin, fig and fruitcake around the edge, as well as notes of church pew oak and resin. It hits the palate with a touch of sweetness, then explodes into mouthwatering acidity that leaves a lingering dry, salty and nutty finish. Wow! CB