This is a translation of an interview with Olivier Cousin that appeared on Vindicateur.fr, a French site that attempts to reveal the behind the scenes action of the wine industry.
In case you missed it, you can buy a tee-shirt (or a hoodie, tote bag, or water bottle) to support Olivier at our cafepress store here.
Vindicator – Is Fraud control really after you just for putting Anjour Olivier Cousin on your boxes? And are they really threatening you with a fine of 30,000 euros and 2 years jail time?
Olivier Cousin: The Anjou Olivier Cousin is not really the problem, that made the controller smile really. What really bothers them is having Anjou Pur Breton, estate bottled, and the indication of vintage and/or grape variety on the bottle labels. They see these as misleading statements since they are not allowed on a Vin de Table label. The word Anjou is reserved only for wines from the appellation, and for that offense there is a maximum penalty of 37,500 Euros or 2 years in prison. The death penalty was abolished 30 years ago. The regional prosecutor will decide my fate.
Vindicator – What possible recourse can you take?
Olivier Cousin: My recourse will be the courts. Many of us are complaining about the administrative pettiness and the lobby of trade unions and inter loire. It is time to unveil the world of wine for what it is. Does this world make you dream? Really it tricks you. Advertisements and labels don’t tell you everything. Wine is not always made from only grapes. I’m defending the right to label an artisanal natural wine, like a basic food product, with all the applicable information.
Vindicator – A petition launched by Sylvie Augereau has already received over 700 signatures, including that of many in the wine industry (wine, wine merchants, journalists, bloggers …). What do you hope for from this?
Olivier Cousin: The petition Sylvie created is very interesting. There are many of us that agree with one another on these issues and I’m learning a lot from reading the comments on Glougeule.fr.
Vindicator – How do you explain this solidarity, which has touched journalists and bloggers, even foreigners, British and Americans for example?
Olivier Cousin: I sell the small amount of wine I make in every corner of the world and I think the fact that we work with truth and with life in what we do explains this solidarity.
Vindicator – Why are your wines not in the AOC Anjou? Is it something that was done to you, your deliberate choice, or the consequences of a systematic rejection of your application?
Olivier Cousin: I voluntarily left the AOC because the production method did not suit me any more: too much use of simple solutions, too many additives allowed, no notion of ecology. Really nothing good for the future. I choose to cultivate biodynamically as a Loire Valley Table Wine.
Vindicator – Did you knowingly provoke this situation you are in? Were you looking for it, and if you did, why did you do it?
Oliver Cousin: Yes, I knowingly caused this situation, I have defended Anjou wine because I love Anjou, and I can not stand the tyranny of the Inter Loire.
Vindicator – What is wrong with your AOC, and the AOC system in general, do you think?
Oliver Cousin: I produced wine for 25 years in the AOC, without being checked, and now because I make wine without controls, I am being checked. Now I make Vin de Table, still from the exact same vineyard in Anjou, but I’m not making Anjou wine anymore? Today, the important thing for me is to denounce the control of viticultural unions and wine Inter professions (like inter loire), which stand in the way of making natural, organic or biodynamic wines.The INAO is at the service of profitable wines that pollute.
Interview by Antonin Iommi-Amunategui
Photo credit: Eva Robineau
© Vindicator, 10/2011