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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Patrick Le Brun, the newly elected successor to Philippe Feneuil as president of the Syndicat Gnral des Vignerons de la Champagne (SGV), has called for collectivism to triumph over individualism, warning that proposed Appellations d'Origine Contrle d'Excellence (AOCE) would spell disaster for the region within five years. Le Brun, 42, a third-generation vigneron from Avize, was elected as 10th president of the SGV at a meeting of its administrative council on 5 May, by a majority of 47 to one. In an interview for La Champagne Viticole (May 2004), he described himself as the common denominator' and pledged to be less dmagogue than pdagogue to secure the unity of his organisation. Today,' he said, the trend is certainly towards individualism. In 1994 [the year in which Feneuil was elected], it was the ngociants who had to be convinced. Now we have to call back to order the vignerons who wish the wind of liberalism to blow through Champagne.' Describing an interprofessional agreement between the SGV, the Union des Maisons de Champagne and the Fdration des Coopratives (see Harpers Champagne supplement, March 2004, p.5) as the only way to guarantee that the added value is shared', he nevertheless highlighted the different perspectives of the two major parties. We vignerons draw up our strategies for the long term, for 15 years. For our ngociant friends, those 15 years are three times five, as they have commercial and marketing imperatives, which are, by definition, highly variable.' Affirming that the future of the AOC system was also one of the SGV's chief concerns, he warned: Let's suppose that tomorrow the Champenois had the choice between AOC and AOCE. I can promise them that within five years it will be a catastrophe for Champagne. Here again the collective interest is vital.'