The Sud de France brand is everywhere, in Occitanie. A multitude of fruits, vegetables, meats, jams, biscuits, candies, honeys or wines made in the region are stamped with its essential logo. Created in 2006 by Georges Frêche, then president of Languedoc-Roussillon, the brand had the challenge of identifying more clearly, in particular on the international market, the products made in the area. Especially, of course, the wines. But the prefecture no longer hears it that way. Because this denomination is far too vague, and does not correspond… to anything concrete.
“European regulations relating to the wine sector reserve the use of a geographical indication only for the labels of wines benefiting from a PDO [Appellation d’origine protégée] or an IGP whose specifications provide for the specific reference to a larger geographical unit than that of the PDO or the IGP”, explain the services of the prefecture of Occitanie, to 20 minutes.
A PGI, yes. South of France, no
However, “the name Sud de France does not correspond to a geographical area in the regulatory sense and it is therefore not possible to integrate it into the specifications of the PDOs or PGIs concerned, continue the State services. By definition, the Sud de France brand cannot be used on wine labels without a geographical indication either. To sum up, annotating a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) on the bottles, yes. “South of France”, no.
Wine-growing professionals are up against this decision. It would be tragic, they say, to no longer display the Sud de France brand on the labels of wine bottles, as it has contributed to the success of regional wines. “Many markets, especially for export, have been able to be developed thanks to this brand”, wrote, on August 17, a dozen presidents of wine unions and protected geographical indications, in a letter to the prefect of Occitanie. .
“We will continue to fight”
“The abrupt cessation of the brand would be incomprehensible for our partners in France and abroad and for our consumers, explain these professionals. The image issue is major (…) The significant financial efforts of the region to deploy the notoriety of this brand have made it possible to consolidate the voluntary investments of marketers. The sudden removal of the Sud de France brand from labels would represent a waste of public and private funds, cause loss of value for the region’s wine industry, and marketing and logistics costs for changing labels for many companies. »
“How do you explain to a customer from Houston, in the United States, that for 15 years, it has been written Sud de France on our labels, and that it must now be removed? asks Denis Verdier, president of the IGP Sud de France at the Interprofessional Council of Languedoc wines. For this professional, this mark is essential, and complementary to the protected geographical indications. “This customer, what do you want him to know about IGP Hérault, IGP Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, or IGP Pont-du-Gard? “, he continues. “We will continue to fight. »
A transitional phase
The politicians, too, are rebelling. Carole Delga (PS), the president of the Occitanie region split a letter to the Minister of Agriculture to specify the damage to viticulture that the removal of this small logo on the bottles would constitute. Several senators also sent a missive to the ministry.
In front of this bronca, the prefect however accepted, on August 24, to set up “accompaniment of the profession by the services of the State”, in a phase of transition “by the vintage 2023”. A working group with professionals and the prefecture has been created. They will meet after the harvest, during the month of September. But, barring a reversal of the situation, the presence of the Sud de France brand on the bottles seems well and truly doomed.