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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Thierry's and Grard Basset were among those honoured by the French Wines campaign at the annual awards ceremony held in London last week. Thierry's Wine Agencies picked up its award for Best UK Product Launch, for the umbrella' brand La Loire, developed in conjunction with Loire giant Vinival. Best UK Independent Retailer of the Year went to Winchester's Rhne specialist Stone, Vine and Sun. On the on-trade side, Vine Trail in Bristol was named the UK On-Trade Supplier of the Year. UK On-Trade Personality of the Year went to Grard Basset of Hotel du Vin, who recently came second in the World Sommelier of the Year competition. Speaking at the event was Jrome Quiot, president of the Comit National des Interprofessions des Vins Appellation d'Origine (CNIV). Quiot reminded the audience that despite the gains made by the New World in recent years, France remained the main supplier to the UK wine trade, exporting 400 million bottles to the UK last year. He added: 2004 is proving to be a more difficult year, due to a combination of an unfavourable exchange rate, a lower production level in 2002 and 2003 (for us they were the lowest in the last decade), but also the complexity of our offer.' Quiot then went on to summarise some of the ongoing (and future) changes to the AOC system - although he made no firm commitments and used no specific examples. Our Suivi Aval Qualit - downstream quality control - is becoming a reality,' he said, and monitoring of products on the shelves of outlets is taking place. This is organised by the interprofessional bodies, and when tasting or analysis reveals products that are below par, quality controllers in France visit the company to do more than rap knuckles.' He continued: Management of the agrment is still a key issue, as you have pointed out to us many times. There are still questions that have to be resolved, but some of the syndicats are already taking steps to create quality control that is undertaken by independent organisations.' Quiot also mentioned that efforts are being made' to bring all the wines from a region under the control of a single body: For example, the Languedoc AOC and Vins de Pays would be re-organised so they can promote the region together as opposed to promoting different categories of wines.'