Saturday, January 21, 2012

Alsace and Onions

Catchy title, huh?

As stated earlier (January 13th blog), Alsatian wines are all classified AOC (Appellation d'Origene Controllee) which is the premier level of designated origin in the French wine classification. It implicitly guarantees that the product in the bottle is historically consistent with the style and standards of the past. Any wine produced in Alsace that is not labelled AOC is unclassified vin d'table and could in theory be from anywhere in France.

We also stated earlier that the Alsatian wine styles are evolving and becoming less dry and lighter to satisfy the marketplace which forces the question: How can this be if AOC rules guarantee a historical style for the product? Here is where the industry gives a wink and a nod to itself. The beaurocrats who govern such things in France are actually local residents who know the producers well and, well, they rubber stamp the wine that is set before them. Ahem.

Forty French cheeses are classified AOC and such things as poultry, butter, honey, lentils, and lavender all have their AOCs in France.

The Vidalia Onion Act of 1986, which trademarked the Vidalia Onion, guaranteed that onions grown within the geographical limitations recommended by the Vidalia Onion Committee would allow only Granex onions or similar varieties to be grown. Granex onions had been grown around Vidalia since the 1930's where the low sulfur soil is credited for their unique flavor. Because of sweet onion competition within the state, the 1986 legislation broadly drew the Vidalia Onion geographical bounaries to include thirteen counties and portions of seven others or 12% of all of Georgia's counties.

The Vidalia Onion was named the official state vegetable in 1990 and yes, commerce and government do work together for the benefit of the people (and industry). Ahem.

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