The Mark Wine News Spring '18 Volume 8.2 - Page 21

BORDEAUX CLASSIFICATION, VINE DISEASE AND THE EMERGENCE OF FRENCH WINE LAWS By Lisa Gmur, CSW attention. With the 1855 Paris Exposition fast approaching, Emperor Napoleon III commissioned the Bordeaux merchants to come out with a ranking of the region’s wine estates. The 1855 classification of Bordeaux would become one of the worlds most esteemed ranking systems of wine estates. Wine had become a huge component in the growth of the French economy and a source of National pride as well. France became recognized as setting the benchmark standards for the wine world. It also justified a wine’s price against a set standard of excellence. Unfortunately this zenith of growth and prosperity would end due to a series of unfortunate events. In the mid 19th century, scientific interest in collecting botanical species led to the exchange of many specimens from around the world. The unintended consequence of this was the introduction of new diseases and ailments to populations that had no natural resistances to these and essential grapes used in winemaking. And everything was finally getting back to normal until another devastating botanical strike; Phylloxera, a tiny yellow- green aphid from America. By the time European vineyard owners figured out what was killing their vines, the vineyards were nearly bare. With the devastation of both Oidium and Phylloxera, even stricter vineyard management was implemented as both vineyards and regions were further matched to the grapes that performed best. American vines were found to be resistant to these diseases. In response to the devastation of both Oidium and Phylloxera, many French winemakers fled to other European countries like Spain but also to America, helping spread quality winemaking to other regions of the world. In 1905 the French government was at it again, and passed its first wine anti-fraud law that would be the foundation for the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) laws. Over the next 30 years, various laws, each more strict, would foll ow. The laws that still govern French winemaking were enacted in 1935 when the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) was created. This governing body oversees the AOC laws making sure proper grapes are grown and correct yields are produced. They also watch over nearly all other aspects of winemaking in France. Bordeaux Chateau Artwork (1869) from the German Newspaper Die Gartenlaube diseases. North America, in particular, was the source of several grape ailments that would devastate the French wine industry. The powdery mildew also known as oidium was the first to strike. It not only affected the skin color of the grape but also reduced the vine yields and the resulting quality of the wines. The first vintage to be hit hard was 1854. The vine yields were the smallest experienced in more than 60 years. Thankfully a Botanist by the name of Henri Marés devised a technique using sulphur to combat the disease and devastation. When the vines were replanted, they were replaced with only the necessary SPRING 2018 The Italians followed suit. In 1963 they developed their own anti-fraud laws; Denominazioni di Origine Controllata (DOC) roughly based on the AOC laws of France. While Germany does not have a single ruling body, they do have very strict laws. Spain’s wine laws went into effect in 1975 and have been more of an evolving system. The United States has laws created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) which we will explore in depth in the summer edition of The Mark Wine News when we delve into the history of wine in the United States. 19