Anjou producer faces jail for protest labels

Olivier Cousin

Olivier Cousin, a small biodynamic wine producer in the AOC Anjou in the French Loire area, faces a sentence of two years because he labeled one of his wines incorrectly out of protest. Cousin left the AOC in 2005 and his wines have since been released as Vin de Table (VDT). He left the AOC in protest because the rules are too lax and for example allowed producers in the warm 2003 vintage to both acidify and chaptalize (add sugar to) their wines. But the French rules do not allow for a grape variety to be mentioned on the label of a VDT. Cousin did it anyway and labeled his VDT “Cabernet Franc Anjou Pur Breton”. Breton is the local name for Cabernet Franc. On the boxes in which the bottles are packed the abbreviation AOC is printed, which stands for “Olivier Cousin Anjou”. According to Cousin the abbreviation was stamped on the boxes by his French distributor and not by himself. The French antifraud organisation DGCCRF (Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Repression of Frauds) didn’t see the humor of Cousin’s protest. Cousin was accused of false labeling and discrediting of the appellation. He faces a fine of 37,500 euros and a prison sentence of two years. The Prosecutor of the court in Angers must now decide whether he continues the case against Cousin. Cousin told he protests because ” the AOC is for industrial wines as the rules permit everything: weedkillers, huge yields, additives etc.” An internet petition has been started to support Cousin.