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Is This Winemaker Too Happy for France's Anti-Alcohol Lobby?

Plus, Vega Sicilia celebrates its sesquicentennial and soccer coach Sven-Gorän Eriksson’s new wine label

Posted: July 31, 2014

• France's tenacious anti-alcohol lobby, led by the National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA) has relaunched its attack on the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB). At the heart of the legal battle, raging since 2005, is a CIVB ad campaign titled "Portraits of Vignerons" that showed photographs of happy Bordeaux winemakers. (“Sacrebleu!” shouted no one who saw the ads.) The neo-Prohibitionists argue that photos of smiling, proud winemakers encourage people to drink and fly in the face of France's Evin Law, which restricts advertising related to alcohol. The case went to the Supreme Court, after the ANPAA lost in the lower courts three times. The Supreme Court, avoiding taking sides between the teetotalers and outraged vintners, tossed the case back to the lower courts, where the ANPAA lost on appeal in April. Last week, the CIVB jubilantly announced that the ANPAA had abandoned the case. Not so fast. Within hours, the Bordelais learned that they'd been misinformed. The ANPAA had indeed taken the case back to the Supreme Court. CIVB Pres. Bernard Farges told Unfiltered that he was disappointed by the turn of events. "We return to the battle, confident of our rights, already confirmed and reconfirmed by the judges," said Farges. Keep smiling, Bordeaux!

• Spain’s most prestigious winery, Bodegas Vega Sicilia, celebrated its 150-year anniversary in July with a two-day celebration that united Spanish dignitaries and international visitors, including representatives from 30 wineries that have existed for 150 years or more. Among the distinguished vintners: Vicente Cebrian of Rioja’s Marqués de Murrieta; Robert Drouhin of Burgundy; Angelo Gaja of Italy; Marcel Guigal of the Rhône; and Bill Harlan of California. Top Spanish chefs Juan Marie Arzak of Arzak and brothers Joan and Josep Roca of el Celllar de Can Roca offered gala dinners for 150 one night and 700 the next. Hosting was the Álvarez family, owners of Vega Sicilia since 1982, led by director general Pablo Álvarez, who served Unico, the winery’s flagship cuvée, in the 2004, 1996, 1994, 1990, 1981 and 1953 vintages, among other wines from around the world.

• Former England national soccer team manager Sven-Gorän Eriksson, affectionately known to fans simply as Svennis, has launched his own wine label, continuing the time-honored tradition of soccer star mononyms by naming the wine Sven. The Swede spent fifteen years in Italy coaching teams in Genoa and Florence and eventually won the league title with SS Lazio in Rome. His time in Italy clearly had an impact, as his new label features a red and a white from Sicily. The red is a blend of the indigenous Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes while the whites are made from Grillo and Fiano; both are priced at about $14, but available only in Sweden for now. The wines were made by Stefano Chioccioli and Stefano Girelli of Casa Girelli. “Passions! Football is one passion. Wine is another passion,” Eriksson said in a video introducing the wine on his website, SvenGoran.com. “To create a football team, you need the balance. If you want to have a blended wine, the balance is very important as well.”

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