Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wine label standards have changed…

Château Julien Estate
High 67 Low 54
Mostly Sunny

Lockwood Valley Vineyard
High 78 Low 52
Mostly Sunny

Well, about a month ago the standards have changed. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TBB) on Tuesday, May 2, 2006 set into stone in the Federal Register changing the minimum content requirement from 95% to 85% for vintage date statements on wine labels with state and county designations.

Now you may be asking, what does this really mean to wine? In the past (well before May 2nd) when a wine label said a vintage year (1990, 1991…2000, 2001, etc.) it meant that 95% of the juice in that wine came from grapes harvested in the year that is displayed on the label. Now, only 85% of the juice has to be from the vintage year of vintage printed on the bottle label.

The Wine Institute argues that the change would benefit U.S. winemakers and American consumers, saying an 85 percent vintage date regulation would lead to “improved taste appeal and quality perception of many wines. Young reds would be smoother and less ‘green’ and would be more consistent across vintages. Older white wines would be fresher and fruitier and more consistent across vintages as well.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

I know that here we always try to bottle the best product humanly possible. We will just have to see what future vintages bring. Is this change good for the wine industry? Does it hurt the grape growers? Does it lower the wine standard in the U.S.? Good points on either side, however I highly doubt that U.S. wine will hurt from this.

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