AtlasObscura: Beaumont's EU Banned Wine

As linked in WineTerroirist, a very interesting article:
on a wine produced in Beaumont in the Ardeche by a coop, called Cuvee des Vignes d’Antan.
It is made from the Jacquez (also known as Black Spanish or Lenoir) and Herbemont French-American hybrid grapes from 140 yr old vines.
More on that grape:

The EU has banned wines made from French-American hybrids, or direct producers. So this is an illegal wine.

Anyway…rather interesting read on esoteric grapes.
Anyone ever tried this Cuvee des Vignes d’Antan wine?


On the island of Porto Santo, part of Madeira, I had a fortified wine partly made with Jacquez. It was a bit rustic, but I put it down to it being homemade rather than because it contained Jacquez.

There’s an EU ban on using non-vinifera varieties in PDO wines, but as far as I know they can be freely used for other wines. In fact I believe there are even a few exceptions allowed for PDO wines.

Edit: Just been doing some checking, and here are some UK examples of what I have been saying. Seyval Blanc is a hybrid, and it is widely used for non-PDO wines in England, but like most other hybrids it is banned from use in PDO wines. The hybrid varieties Orion, Phoenix, Regent and Rondo are classed as vinifera by the UK authorities (presumably with agreement from the EU) and can be used for PDO wines.

What’s a PDO wine? Product of Denominated Origin, or some such?

Jacques/Jacquet was one of the grapes used to make Madeira for around a century, but EU rules only allow vinifera in fortified Madeira and table wines. There has been financial assistance to convert vineyards to vinifera.

There is still some Jacquez/Jacquet, Isabella and Cunningham growing on Madeira which are now “used by the growers to make wine, vinho seco, exclusively for personal consumption”, i.e. they’re not legally allowed to sell it.

quote from The Wines of Madeira by Trevor Elliott

Protected Designation of Origin

Standardised EU wide appellation system. I’ve seen PDO use on Bordeaux labels instead of AoC.

EU Council Regulation 491/2009, article 120a, paras 2 and 5:

  1. Subject to paragraph 3, Member States shall classify which wine grape varieties may be planted, replanted or grafted on their territories for the purpose of wine production.
    Only wine grape varieties meeting the following conditions may be classified by Member States:
    (a) the variety concerned belongs to the Vitis vinifera or comes from a cross between the species Vitis vinifera and other species of the genus Vitis;
    (b) the variety is not one of the following: Noah, Othello, Isabelle, Jacquez, Clinton and Herbemont.
    Where a wine grape variety is deleted from the classification referred to in the first subparagraph, grubbing-up of this variety shall take place within 15 years of its deletion.
  2. Areas planted with wine grape varieties for the purpose of wine production planted in breach of paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 shall be grubbed up.
    However, there shall be no obligation to grub up such areas where the relevant production is intended exclusively for consumption by the wine-producers’ households.

The EU believes those varieties (Isabella/etc) produce product that is higher in methanol than is safe. That is the reason for their banning. My understanding is that this is a flawed belief, but that is the logic.

My surf instructor in Madeira served me some Isabella wine made by his family and I’ve had wines from Jacquez (with Eric), Herbemont, Othello and Clinton. I am not blind. So there is an N=1 against the EU position.

Fragolino is a very specific Italian product that got wiped out by this ban, btw.

Methanol was certainly used as the argument to getting those six varieties banned in French law in 1935. But I presume the bans got included in EU’s 2009 regulations largely for political reasons. Could anyone really have believed such nonsense about methanol in 2009?