Some bad-mouthed people in France keep pretending that our judges are soft on crime and only pursue cases that fit into their progressive political agenda. These people couldn't be more wrong, and the lawsuit against Olivier Cousin is a living proof of the staunch fight of our judiciary to defend the well-being of our fellow citizens against troublemakers... who dare say (and print) that their organic but vulgar table wine is made in a place, for the matter, Anjou.
Our tax money at work, here is an affair that is already 2 years old, and as we know that the French courts are chronically congested, this must be a very important matter to keep the Judicial administration this focused and determined. You can read the sum up of this appalling story by Jancis Robinson 2 years ago, she highlighted at the time the French silliness over AOC which led authorities to drag to court a Loire farmer for daringly and humoristically spelling the variety name and the word Anjou on his table-wine labels, a serious crime that warranted the judiciary wrath and possibly a fine of 40 000 €... Decanter also had a piece on this, another setback for the credibility of the AOC administration and the French judiciary.
Olivier Cousin farms organic and vinifies without additives, and he is known for using a draft horse to plow his vineyard and carry the harvest boxes. He is a vigneron who makes Anjou wines shine in France and abroad, but it is forbidden to display that his table wines are made in the region of Anjou, because the wine administration uses the table-wine status as a punishing limitation, some sort of modern untouchable status where you're denied to display the region origin and even sometimes the village name if it is associated with a quality wine (the wine administration in this case wants the winery to use only the Zip code). The word "Domaine" is samely banned on these labels...
But Olivier Cousin came in person, and with his horses, or to be precise, his own and the one of Benoit Courault, another grower making additives-free wines and using a draft horse. And many people came to assist Olivier in this ordeal, fellow winemakers of course, but also wine writers and even the maintream media and the state radio.
The judgment being supposed to happen from 2pm that day, Olivier Cousin invited goodwilling supporters to gather at noon in front of the courthouse for a picnic, people were invited to bring their own food and he'd just bring generously a barrel of wine. Cousin's wine on tap ! the argument helped the undecided to make the final leap and here we were a joyous band of rebels supporting a courageous vigneron who dared to question the punishing rules imposed on table wines...
The weather was particularly mild and even a bit sunny through the haze, october 2013 was beginning gently and summer was still in the air.
Here are a few more pictures, sorry for the people I didn't name or pictured.
Let's hope that the real motive was not for the judges to avoid ridicule under the spotlight of the many newspapers, radio stations and foreign observers who were looking closely to the result. Maybe they hope that all these people will not come again in the cold and rainy days of early march, and that the media's attention will recede ?...
Le Figaro : Article on the lawsuit
Atlantico (in French) : what are the AOC worth ?
Piece on this lawsuit in AngersMag
France Info's report on the affair
Libération on the Olivier cousin lawsuit
Short article on the Courrier de l'Ouest
Article by La Pipette aux Quatre Vins
Sylvie Augereau on this judgment day
The Judiciary is not alone in its good work against evildoers : the French government is working on limiting free speech on wine (article by Jancis Robinson). Don't worry, WineTerroirs is hosted by Six Apart in San Mateo, CA.