Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir proved top performers in the fourth annual Vin de France competition.
The ANIVIN de France logo
Following a judging session in Paris last week, medal winners from the competition highlighted the increasing use of Pinot Noir, as well as Sauvignon Blanc, in the relatively new French wine classification.
While last year’s competition featured just a handful of Pinot Noirs, this year there were over 20 entered out of 138 red wines submitted for the judging process. Two of these 20 achieved gold medals and a further two gained silvers.
Commenting on this development, Valérie Pajotin, competition organiser and director of ANIVIN de France said, “As many as 15% of the red wines entered were Pinot Noir and I am really happy with the quality – the wines are really seductive.”
She also said that Vin de France – which allows producers to blend across regions and specify the grape variety and vintage on the front label – was particularly useful for entry-level Pinot Noir as cross-regional blending helped create balance and consistency.
Pajotin was also pleased with the high number of aromatic white wines entered into the competition, and their strong performance: Sauvignon Blanc dominated the gold medalists, with six of the wines containing the grape.
This year’s competition featured 20% more entrants totalling 292 wines, with 88 medals awarded overall in accordance with the rules of the competition – only 30% of the wines judged can achieve a silver or gold medal.
Of that 88, 72 (24.6%) of the medals were silver and 16 (5.4%) gold, up from last year’s 12 golds and 32 silvers.
No bronze medals were awarded this year on the advice of the Union des Oenologues de France, which oversaw the judging process.
Pajotin said she was happy with the higher number of entrants but was hoping to reach 300 wines for this year from the 56 companies who are active in the Vin de France category.
She also said that Vin de France should be viewed as the classification to bring new drinkers into French wine.
“I don’t want people to start with California, I want them to start with France, because France is able to make round, fruity wines,” she commented.
In terms of demand for Vin de France since the classification was launched in 2009, Pajotin said key growth areas were the UK and Germany, with 46% of all wines labeled Vin de France sold in these two countries.
Valérie Pajotin relaxes with a gold medal-winning Pinot Noir after the competition
Outside Europe, although China only represents 4% of Vin de France sales, she said the market was growing at 63%, referring to figures from 2010 and 2011.
For the year ahead, Pajotin has high hopes for the US, following the decision by authorities in North America to accept the classification – before November last year producers of Vin de France wines couldn’t put the vintage on the front label of those wines destined for the US.
Drawing attention to some of the more unusual blends under the Vin de France designation, such as a gold medal-winning Colombard-Sauvignon Blanc-Gros Manseng, Pajotin said, “Vin de France is the only category where you can make new wines – it is fun.”
Among the UK-based judges in the annual competition, which was held in Paris on Tuesday 12 February, were wine writer Anthony Rose, Bibendum buying director Andrew Shaw, Direct Wines wine buyer Cat Lomax and db editor Patrick Schmitt.
A full report on the competition will appear in the May edition of the drinks business.
Over the following pages is a listing of the gold and medal winning wines from this year’s competition, and click here to see the results of last year’s Vin de France competition.