Thursday, December 29, 2011

LA Times: Some France makers of wine go natural, and fight the system

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"Many natural winemakers have been ejected from the French regulatory system; others leave because they believe certification methods reward low-standard industrially and chemically produced wine."

By Devorah Lauter, Los Angeles Times

"Standing by the wood-burning oven in their kitchen, Claire Cousin rips apart the frame around a photo of her husband, Olivier, kneeling beside Romeo, the lazy draft horse he uses to plow his small vineyard in France's Anjou region.

Preoccupied, his hand on his beard, the real Olivier sits at the large kitchen table musing over several open bottles of wine. "Yeah, get rid of the frame," he says, without looking.

Claire hangs the unbound portrait back on the cluttered wall. They both approve.

PHOTOS: French wine industry battle

Olivier Cousin, 51, doesn't like being boxed in. He calls himself a
paysan, or a small farmer, the sort seen before tractors and industrialized farming pushed so many off the fields.

"I'm for freedom," he says. "We got rid of our kings awhile ago. We cut their heads off."

Cousin is fighting a raft of battles: Against the system. Against chemicals. Modern technology. Money, as in, the need for it. And against the idea of putting sugar and other additives in wine.

More concretely, he is in a legal battle with the French authorities who regulate winemaking. Although the issue appears to be about wine labeling, it really is about
terroir, the land, or the identity it gives to fruit, as well as its people. . ."

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