The IGP Cévennes now deprived of the Sud de France brand

The other IGP wines from the Occitanie region also no longer have the right to use this mark.

“The current state of the regulations for the protection of geographical indications in the wine sector does not allow the mention “Sud de France” to appear on the labeling of these wines.”
This meaningful sentencesent by press release to the members of the Languedoc-Roussillon and South-West wine-growing basin councils, by the prefect of the Occitanie region, Étienne Guyot, hit like a bomb.

A brand celebrating its sixteenth anniversary

Existing for sixteen years, the Sud de France brand no longer really needs to be presented, over time, it has been invited to shops and tables in Occitania and elsewhere.

Created in 2006 by the then president of the former Languedoc-Roussillon region, Georges Frêche, its aim was to bring together and therefore identify under the same quality banner all the local products of the region (wines, meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables, processed products, etc.).

When the greater Occitanie region was created in 2015, its president, Carole Delga, decided to continue to operate and develop the brandwhich concerns, still today, mainly products from Languedoc-Roussillon but to which have been added a few from Midi-Pyrénées.

Sud de France evolves in 2018

In 2018, the brand evolves and segments into three colors : purple, for standard products referenced Sud de France; green, for organic products; and gold for products bearing a quality label (AOP, AOC, IGP and Label Rouge).

And it is precisely on some of these products that the bat wounds. “It’s been around and used for 16 years and it’s never been a problem!, says disappointed Danny Peregrine, director of the Gard Federation of IGP wines, of which the IGP Cévennes is a part. Basically, this brand was created to compete with Bordeaux and Provence and to identify us for exportbecause Languedoc-Roussillon is not known outside of France.”

“The IGP Cévennes is the most dynamic in Languedoc”

The problem with this ban is fear of negative economic consequences on sales
: “In the United States, there are entire departments identified as Sud de France. Go and explain to them that for regulatory reasons we can no longer sell our wines with this brand. Abroad, as in France, our wines are now identified and identifiable thanks to this brand.

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Moreover, it would run the risk of jeopardize certain investments
: “Most sales of the IGP Cévennes are made in Occitanie but it is the most dynamic IGP in Languedoc and we are in a development phase for which we rely on the Sud de France brand.”

A state decision

The argument of the State, through the National Institute of Origin and Quality (Inao) and the regional prefect, is to recall that a wine with a quality label (AOC or IGP) cannot, according to the regulations in force, contain a geographical indication that does not correspond to the wine-growing areain which it is located.
However, the Languedoc-Roussillon wine-growing area is called… Languedoc-Roussillon and not Sud de France. “Unlike the South-West wine-growing basin which is called Sud-Ouest, thus allowing the winegrowers of this basin to put the inscription Sud-Ouest on their bottles”, specifies Danny Peregrine.

A name change for the wine-growing area?

Wouldn’t it then suffice, for IGP wines, to register Languedoc-Roussillon wines on their bottles? “It is not possible either because this denomination already exists for AOC wines from our territory.”

There remained, for the actors of the sector, a last option on the table to which many of them were frankly in favor: change the name of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in the South of France. But on this, the prefect also gave an end of inadmissibility: “The technical impasse of an alternative solution consisting in changing the name of the wine-growing area […] led me to the observation that the use of the mention Sud de France on the label of Languedoc-Roussillon wines could no longer be considered today.”

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To share their concerns, several syndicates, federations, councils and unions of Occitan wines sent an open letter to Étienne Guyotasking him in particular on this file: “a moratorium which would make it possible to obtain a transitional period for the use of printed labels and to be able, simultaneously, to work on the implementation of a solution that would satisfy the wine sectorwhile meeting the regulatory requirements which also guarantee the protection of our GIs”. A request for a meeting with the representatives of the State was made by the winegrowers. Business to follow.

Contacted, Étienne Guyot has not yet responded to our interview request.

Questions for… Jean-Louis Cazaubon, Vice-President for Viticulture in the Region

How does the Occitanie Region, which owns the Sud de France brand, react to this decision?
We, at the Region, take note of this decision. As the prefect specifies in his press release, there are still heavy penalties, including fifth-class fines (maximum fine of €1,500, editor’s note) and seizure non-compliant goods by customs, so we cannot say to winegrowers “pass over and continue”. For our part, we are going to continue working with professionals in the sector, in particular thanks to a recovery plan for the sector, we let’s see how to help them, to promote and sell their wines around the world.

Will the State’s decision change?
We don’t know, but we can’t say that we’re going into rebellion. This is the rule, it applies. However, we understand the anger of professionals, this brand has carried and has been used for 16 years, why there, suddenly, we are told it is the rule of the ‘Inao, is it like this? And then on the side of the Region, it represents large investments to develop this brand, so obviously that annoys us enormously. You should know that of the 12,000 products labeled Sud de France, 7,000 are wines and that Occitania is the leading region in Europe in terms of the number of products bearing an official quality sign, we have 250.

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