In a series of email exchanges, we asked Christophe Foucher a number of questions about the state of viticulture in the Loire and his (non)involvement with AOC Touraine. The following represents some highlights from his musings. Thanks to Thomas Yeatts for editing and translation.
“In the beginning when I was getting up and running, I tried a number of times to submit my wine as AOC Touraine. At the time, wine was analyzed and then tasted, by professionals in viticulture, people with precise ideas about what wine has to be.
A standard product — technical, smooth, homogeneous, secure, without serious defects and without quality — the type of wine one can buy with his eyes closed off the racks at supermarkets, without much surprise.
But not good wine at the same time. Wine that tells no story. That’s why the majority of the wines that I offered up for AOC designation were rejected. They were too different and, simultaneously, too familiar. Too oxidized, the yields too small, or, even worse, without enough sulfur. Overall, too alive and not clean enough.
Usually, just a few months after the harvest, the wine has to be fermented, mixed, filtered and bottled with sulphites and attractive labels. At bottom there is nothing really surprising in this, that it’s never the result purely of processes begun on the vine.
To be sure, today the majority of AOC wines reflect the values of our society and its consumptive habits, industrial and production-oriented — far from craft, honesty and quality. Those values don’t mean much today, and that’s too bad….
In my case, to preserve my freedom and make the wines I like, I opted to excuse myself. There are many of us now in the “natural” wine movement in France. Our efforts are very often incompatible with the demands a system that is a little outmoded, that does not allow people to question it. Since a few of the AOC’s were reformed, they have become more complicated and bureaucratic, but I’m not certain anything has really changed.
Of course, my argument would be more nuanced if my wine was in a champagne AOC. But I’m in the Vallee du Cher. I produce and offer up “La Lunotte.” That my wines are appreciated is still the most important thing to me.”