Our Manifesto: AOC Be Damned

It’s easy to see from the outside, as two Brit winemakers living and working in the heart of Burgundy, that the French wine system is mad.

Great vineyards abound. There’s plenty of unsung vignerons polishing their vines in all weathers who have the intimate love and knowledge for their vines that can only be gained from a lifetime of working them. The result can be some of the greatest wines in the world. They and their great terroirs are the heroes and heroines. They are the only things that matter.

Then there’s the «Appelation d’Origin Controlée» (AOC) system. The Bureaucracy who in theory is designed to defend them. it’s intended to preserve and guarantee quality, but it doesn’t. All too often it just rewards mediocrity and smears the name and hard work of the great growers.  The great taster and «bon vivant» Michel Bettane, co-author of the “Grand guide des vins de Francesaid in 2011 {Fr}:

«Only 20% of AOC wines merit their status»

Most of the time the AOC system is a protection racket. Bad vineyard owners with bad practises are guaranteed a higher price than their wines really deserve just by the good fortune of inheriting some hectares of AOC land. Quality isn’t required. Innovation is outlawed. Hard work is discouraged. Why break your back, or invest in better equipment, or reduce yields to earn a few centimes more? A bad Gevrey Chambertin will still sell out.

Who cares if a great Chardonnay grown in Chitry just the other side of a line outside of Chablis can’t be called a Chablis? Growers there have to work even harder to get their wines sold. For them it’s the quality that matters. They need to respect their terroir, they need to lavish care on their vines. They need the wine to be good. They don’t have the safety net of guaranteed sales that comes with a famous name. We’re with those guys. To us the AOC name, and the crazy rules that go with it, increasingly mean less and less. If a better wine can be made by using a proportion of grapes grown with a different pruning style, or another variety, or even grown outside of the (sometimes arbitrary) line then why not do it? If breaking the rules means better quality then the rules deserve to be broken.

So AOC be damned.

We want the freedom to make great wine, not the restrictive dictation of how to prune, how high or low the yield should be, what can be blended together in what quantities.

All of our wines, whether from a famed AOC vineyard plot, or from a great vineyard we’re working on, or working with will be released under the humble «vin de France» classification.

We want to free. Liberté not Bureaucracy.

Here are our wines currently for sale. All our wines are limited quantity, hand crafted, hand bottled, made from fruit we hand picked from exceptional vineyards that we have (for the most part) worked ourselves. They are all made with love sweat and blisters. We are delighted with them; they are the sort of wines we dreamed about making. We hope you enjoy them too.

They are just the start. There’s many more great «Terroirs» we are dreaming about, coming soon to a «Verre» near you..

Wil and DB