About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A nice French Vin de Pays available in Ecuador!

Vin de pays or "wine of the country" from France is a step above table wine in the French classification system.  It stands apart from the AOC classification.  It allows French wine producers to do single varietals and custom blends but still carry a geographic designation without meeting the stricter requirements proscribed for an AOC or higher designation.

There are are still some regulatory requirements including limitations on yields, a minimum alcohol content, limitations on acidity and a requirement that the wines be produced and kept separately from other wines.  However the requirements are generally less restrictive than those of an AOC.  The Vin de pays designation was first proposed in the the late 60's and was fully and formally adopted nationwide by 1979.  The geographic designations can be regional, geographic or local  with six different regions and 50 different French departments among the designations.

Since the European Union adopted the PGI (Indication Geographique Protegee) in 2009, all the French vin de pays designations have been registered as PGI's with the European Union.  French producers may now choose to label as a vin de pays, PGI or PGI/vin de pays.   These wines are similar to the IGT designation in Italy, Vino de Tierra in Spain, Vinho Regional in Portugal and Landwein in Germany.  The variation in quality is wide ranging and can include some wines that rival the best of higher classifications in quality and price.  It may also include some of the country's cheaper, lesser made wines.  It is also an area where the wine drinker on a budget can find some his best bargains and where, with some due diligence,  he can purchase his best "bang for the buck".

Such seems to be the case with a recent discovery The Wine Guy made here in Ecuador.  The wine was a Montrouge Vin de Pays de Mediterranee Syrah-Grenache Blend.  Montrouge is a brand owned by the well known Caymus Wine and Spirits Group of Cognac, France.  This fifth generation wine family is best known for high end, high quality brandies. However, they also handle a number of AOC and vin de pays wines including the Montrouge brand.   This wine is imported into Ecuador by the family consortium that owns the Coral retail chain. It is carried in their retail stores as the equivalent of a private brand.  It currently sells at just a few dollars above the U.S. market price.  Considering the high import taxes on alcohol imposed by the Ecuadorian government, that's a bargain.   It's drinkability and its affordable price (under $15) makes it an attractive alternative to the usual $40-$50 range here for a GSM or Chateauneuf du Pape from France.

It was enjoyable enough that The Wine Guy is planning a return excursion to Coral Centro in Cuenca to sample more of the Montrouge line.  If any fellow Cuencanos sample more of these nice vin de pays, let me know your reactions.