I have been tasting and learning about wine for nearly 28 years – more than half my life… That’s a lot of time spent swirling, sniffing and sometimes, spitting and the one thing that has remained constant is change…

Case in point, the aforementioned wine is your garden variety Vin de Pays d’ Oc wine from France, a “country wine” from the most productive regional zone, the “Oc,” which covers most of southern France and is responsible for approximately 85% of VDP production. The VDP classification is a tier in the French Wine Quality hierarchy known as the AOC, or Appellation d’Origine Controlee and is just above Vin de Table and below AOC (technically just under a very rare VDQS tier). The classification was officially recognized in 1973 and has seen subsequent modifications in 1979, 2000 and 2009. The goal of the VDP class is to make it easier for global consumers to be able to understand French wine labels, which in theory increases the probability that your average wine consumer will buy the wine. For winemakers VDP means that the often very strict rules that are a part of the top tier classification of AOC are significantly eased, making it less costly to produce and market the wine. It’s all good, as far as I’m concerned, because most of the time, VDP wines are high-value, quaffable little numbers that have distinctive character with sub-$12 price tags.

As I was copying the information from the wine label for this review, lo and behold, I saw a new statement on the label: Indication Géographique Protegee, or IGP. Being the curious sort and a wine educator I began to dig and I found that in fact the change in VDP laws in 2009 included the new labeling, which corresponded to the registration of all VDP titles with the EU under their Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) designation. While meant to “replace” the Vin de Pays title on a wine label, the changes stipulate that wine makers can opt to use either or both designations on the label. So, just when you thought that European wine labeling was taking a turn towards clarity, guess again…

Remember what I said about the one constant in wine tasting over the last 28 years? Change.

At the end of the day, though, what matters is what is in the bottle and I can safely say that Gerard Bertrand has hit a solid home run with this lovely little Viognier and at an average retail price of $9.99 per bottle pre-discount, you can bet that this wine will find a comfortable spot in my Summer rotation. The screw cap closure means that I can hold it a while as well. Such a deal, no matter what the label says…

My tasting note:

Lively, floral nose with tropical fruit and honey hints – very pretty. Light-bodied with moderate acidity – clean – good balance. Soft palate, lightly fruity with papaya, honey and pear notes. Short, clean finish with a refreshing aftertaste. Drinking well now – not for aging. Superb value!

Cheers!

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