I learnt about this story quite late, first through Alice Feiring, then Jim Budd (Decanter), Jamie Goode, Jancis Robinson, Jenny & François and also Olif, a French wine lover from the Jura who runs an informative and humoristic wineblog, and Food & Wine. There is as you can check a very wide uproar worldwide about what the administration is doing here. There's a petition that you can find on several of these blogs in both English and French.
Now, here is a story that would make us all laugh if one of the most interesting winemakers of the Loire didn't risk so much in the adventure : On one side, you have Olivier Cousin, who is among the growing number of hard-working French vignerons who work a lot on their organic vineyard to make wines that don't need technological manipulations and are exported as far as Japan and the United States, and on the other side you have the usual job-for-lifers of the French administration who seem to have taken the step to act like a morality police, looking for rebels who don't play by the rules of the formatted, industrial wine favored by the mainstream wine business. Of course, we're not barbarians over here in France, there's no lashes or stone pelting, our enforcement squads just bankrupt people by inflicting them punitive fines. The aim of the French wine bureaucracy here may also be these rebels who make great wines labelled as low-prestige Vin de Table (thus outside of the vaunted French Appellation system) and still sell them like hot as far as Japan to people who pay for what's in the bottle and not for an often-meaningless printed label. The signal is clear : if you stray from the beaten path of the smooth order run by both the fonctionnaires of the Appellation & the wine industry, you may end up being pinpointed by one of the resourceful administrations who police this part of the economic activity : the Douanes Françaises (French customs), the DGCCRF (administration dealing with commerce, competition and frauds) the Administration Fiscale (tax authority), the MSA and others ...
This refusal to pay the compulsory adhesion to the Interloire Unionized lobby made him the target of a lengthy suit which he recently lost after about 15 years if I'm right. The French tax administration had recently one of his bank accounts frozen, virtually bankrupting his small winery.
When the rest of the world takes notice that something is changing in the world of winemaking, with the additives-stuffed wines loosing slowly their allure for a growing number of demanding consumers, the French wine system and the countless enforcement administrations seem to have decided to go the opposite way and tighten the noose a notch more on people who represent the healthy rebirth of the wine culture. If that's not shooting oneself in the foot, I don't know what it is.
Olivier Cousin's web page