Beschermde Amerikaanse wijnen moeten voor minstens 85 % bestaan uit het druivenras dat op het etiket wordt vermeld. Maar er is een aantal voortrekkers dat naar Europees voorbeeld naar een 100%-situatie wil. De schermutselingen daarover, ook in politieke kringen, zijn in volle gang. Wijnauteur Catherine Cole geeft de huidige stand van zaken voor SevenFiftyDaily.
‘Wine laws within the European Union set a baseline for quality and veracity that is higher than that of the United States. The appearance of an appellation (AOP, DOP, and so forth) on an EU wine label is a guarantee that all the grapes in that wine came from that geographical designation. By contrast, U.S. federal regulations require only partial truth in labeling—that is, 15 percent of the fruit can be sourced from an appellation other than that stated on the label.
While it’s relatively rare for a grape variety to appear on a European label (except for Germany)—the connection between place and style being so strong there—the use of a varietal designation is a guarantee that at least 85 percent of a wine must be made from the grape variety stated in bold print. In addition, wines from regions that have historically used varietal labeling, such as Alsace, are entirely composed of the advertised grape. (This even goes as far as 100 percent clonal labeling, as in Brunello di Montalcino.) In the U.S., in contrast, a full quarter of the grapes in a varietally labeled wine can be something else entirely.
Regionally, winegrowers’ organizations in Europe exercise legislative oversight at a more granular level than international (EU) and national (AOP, DOP, and so on) agencies are able to do, with far more authority than any U.S. regional wine board wields. We’ve all studied those bullet points covering the months and years of oak aging that differentiate a Crianza from a Reserva from a Gran Reserva, for example; even outside of the cellar, growers must meet density, training, and fruit load requirements in order for a wine to earn that coveted Rioja seal.
In comparison, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) committee would never require winemakers here in the land of the free to follow strict rules in the vineyard or the cellar … or would it?
A couple of recent headline-grabbing events in Oregon have sparked conversations in wine circles about the laissez-faire American attitude toward veracity in labeling and prompted a reconsideration of the value of cellar oversight. And these are merely the most recent developments in a three-decade-long movement that has made at least a couple of our AVAs look decidedly European. Will the remainder of American wine country follow suit?