10 Apr 2016

The photo to the left (reproduced from Robert Joseph's "The White Wines of France" explains the classification system for producers of Champagne.
There are four broad categories and you can find one of these categories on the label of every bottle of Champagne. It provides information about the source of the wine you are about to drink:
Has it been made by a grower who has grown the grapes or has it been made from purchased grapes or indeed has it simply been purchased as a finished wine by a negociant?
These are important differences and I would like to see a similar system operate in Australia. Here we are seeing more and more labels on the shelves and few of them come from wineries who grow grapes and make wine themselves. The big players, such as Woolworths (Dan Murphy's) and Coles (Vintage Cellars, First Choice) have for years been buying wine and slapping a label on it to capitalise on the popularity of a wine style or region (Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago Pinot Noir, Coonawarra Cabernet, Barossa Shiraz, the list goes on).
But now we see more and more small operators buying grapes (or finished wine) and developing their own brands. Good luck to them and I am in no way arguing against the idea but I think the wine-drinking public has a right to know more about the origins of these wines.
The genuine winery, who grows the grapes and makes the wine, bears all the risks involved in primary production. The negociant/buyer bears very few, if any. If it's a bad year, he/she may not buy any grapes at all or may purchase from somewhere else.
I would like to see, on every wine label, just as in Champagne, a mark that lets consumers know the production category of the wine. Something like this:
GP--grower producer who grows the grapes and makes the wine in his/her own winery (this will need to include purchased grapes)
GC--grower who grows the grapes and has the wine made by another winery
PM--someone who purchases grapes and makes the wine in a rented facility or has the wine made under contract
PW--someone who purchases finished wine, either in bottled form or in bulk
It's time the wine consumers of Australia knew who the genuine wine producers are.