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Published:  23 July, 2008

The New World should not use the word wine', but instead industrial wine' to distinguish it from real wine (vin vigneron'). So says Aim Guibert, founder of leading Languedoc estate Mas de Daumas Gassac, in a passionately worded letter to Jacques Blanc, president of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Ren Renou, president of the INAO, and Herv Gaymard, the French Minister of Agriculture. To permit, without any reaction, the use of the word "wine", by all those who denature and modify its identity, would be a tragic error,' he writes. The word "wine" is one of the essential frontiers to defend, if we value our European heritage at all.' He goes on to attack not only flying winemakers, heroes of the New World' who say we can make good wine everywhere', and American Business Week magazine, which criticised France's surplus production of bad table wine, but politicians in Europe in general and France in particular, who have promoted agricultural industrialisation' and refused to protect the Unique'. He also accuses supermarkets of exercising new forms of tyranny' and blames them for the loss of innumerable regional products'. Guibert also writes: When the vineyard sprawls over dozens of hectares; when the vigneron doesn't know his vines; doesn't see harvested, year after year, grapes stamped with the differences of the seasons and the years; doesn't see the miracle of vintages so marvellously similar and different; then it's no longer wine. It may be "industrial wine", but it's no longer wine in the traditional European sense. To keep the same word, "wine", is to threaten the very survival of traditional wine.' He concedes that, like beer, industrial wines may even be enjoyable for a while, before instilling boredom', but protests, Why steal from thousands of European artist vignerons the name of wine? The large Australian and American industrial producers do not produce "vin vigneron", but fabricate a very worthwhile industrial drink, which should be given its real name "industrial wine".' After contrasting vin vigneron' and industrial wine' under nine headings (ranging from terroir and vintage variation to yeasts), he concludes: Not to engage in this fight would be treason against Old Europe. We may hope that America, which has twice saved us from tyranny, will understand the struggle, and may even support us in it.'