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INAO issues objection to Sud de France' campaign

Published:  23 July, 2008

The future of the Sud de France' marketing campaign, which was launched at Vinisud this year, has been thrown into doubt after the Institut National des Appellations Origine (INAO) expressed doubts over its legality.

An INAO spokeswoman told Harpers that it had issued a 'legal objection' to the campaign - claiming that 'Sud de France' should not be used for Vins de Pays wines.

The creation of Sud de France was first reported by Harpers in November last year - with its first public airing at Vinisud in Montpellier in February - when it was announced that 12 million would be given by the French government to promote 'agricultural products' of Languedoc-Roussillon, including wine. The term was designed to unite the Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins du Languedoc (CIVL), and its Roussillon, Vins de Pays d'Oc and Vins de Pays de Languedoc-

Roussillon counterparts, but the INAO's decision may have put paid to that.

The INAO spokeswoman said: 'There is a legal problem which has not been resolved. The names of larger regions have to be reserved for VQPRD [AOC and VQDS] wines.' She added that the French Ministry of Economy may also join the debate, if it decides that labelling and trademark regulations have been breached.

Languedoc producer Jean-Claude Mas believes that a 'major civil war' will be on the cards in France if the objection is upheld.

He told Harpers: 'On one side you have Bordeaux; on the other, you have the south of France. The INAO exists for Bordeaux and it works to protect it. They're trying to stop the Languedoc being a major fine wine producer.'

Mas said what angered him was that the Sud de France campaign was the first instance of AOC and Vins de Pays producers uniting for the benefit of the region. He added that he would take the issue 'to the courts, and then to Brussels' if the INAO demanded he remove the term from his wines.

Another Languedoc winemaker, who did not wish to be named, said: 'On the face of it, it really looks like the INAO is shooting itself in the foot, particularly as far as their reputation abroad goes.'

Neither the CIVL nor its Vins de Pays counterpart was available for comment.