26 Feb 2011

May I have a glass of Grignan-les-Adhémar please?

I could, and maybe should, have placed this article under the "pet hates" chapter of this blog. French wine appellations have a way of multiplying themselves like amoebae, constantly sub-dividing into ever smaller units until, some day, not even the next-door neighbour will be able to recognise where they come from. This story is a little different, since the wines previously known as Coteaux de Tricastin have changed their name to that of Grignan-les-Adhémar.

Vineyards near Tricastin in the Côtes du Rhône

The reason for this change of name is that the producers in this part of the southern Rhône valley consider that their previous name gave them a bad image since it was shared with a nuclear power-station that was implanted there some years ago. This may be the case, although I doubt if it really affects them much outside their immediate vicinity (can anybody outside of France name a French nuclear power station and then place it on a map?). Anyway; I am sure that they know best on this point. My point is that, given the opportunity provided by the proposed name-change, why on earth did they select a name that is even more complicated to memorise and pronounce than Coteaux de Tricastin? I would have taken the opportunity to find a nice simple one-word name that anybody in contact with the wine could remember and say. In fact I would have gone further and just called the wines Rhône, but that is another story and may have been impossible for silly administrative reasons.

Now can anybody seriously see themselves sitting in a restaurant or wine bar and asking for a glass of Grignan-les-Adhémar (I have probably spelt it wrong anyway)? I think that I should start an wine appellation called Trifouilly-les-Oies: it's bound to be a huge success.
Why are so many French wine producers (not all, thankfully) so bad at thinking outside their little local box?