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Published:  23 July, 2008

As the debate over the future of French wine intensifies, key institutions and organisations have been clarifying their positions on several of the most divisive issues. According to Agra Presse, the Vignerons Indpendants de France have declared their support for Ren Renou's proposed reforms of the AOC system, including a greater legislative role for local syndicats and the official recognition of sites et terroirs d'excellence. In a written statement, they said: We intend to side with all those who seek to give a new dynamism to French wine.' By contrast, the administrative council of the Confdration Nationale des Appellations d'Origine Contrles (CNAOC) has expressed its reservations about the proposed AOC d'Excellence. At its congress on 18 May, it stated that AOCEs would complicate the system unnecessarily, while the relaxation of some AOC standards would compromise recent reforms such as contrle la parcelle. Backing the concept of AOCs as one and indivisible, it proposed the creation of a new category without the AOC system. Such differences are mirrored at governmental level. The Senate has approved the first reading of an amendment that would recognise vin de pays as a signe officiel de qualit, giving the denomination the same status as AOC and qualifying its producers for rural development grants. The government, however, opposes the change on the grounds that EU law has VdP in the broader category of vin de table, which is not subject to quality criteria.