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Bordeaux reforms

Published:  23 July, 2008

A number of big reforms to the Bordeaux wine region were voted through at last week's general assembly of the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) - including the establishment of a vin de pays category for the region.

CIVB president Christian Delpeuch also managed to pass two other proposals. The first was for the CIVB president to be elected for three years, rather than the current one, effectively keeping Delpeuch in charge until at least 2007. The second was to extend the 'emergency measure' introduced for the 2004 harvest that limited growers to selling 50 hectolitres of wine per hectare (hl/ha). The first two measures were passed easily, with more than two-thirds of the 48 voters agreeing. The third was passed with a slim margin - 25 to 23.

Roland Feredj, director of the CIVB, told Harpers that the new vin de pays category, provisionally known as Vin de Pays de l'Aquitaine, will have to be ratified by the French wine governing body ONIVINS. He said that he hoped that the process would be under way before the end of the summer.

He flatly denied the idea that the mooted category risked becoming a dumping ground for poor Bordeaux wine. 'Everyone knows that vins de pays wines today are excellent,' he said. 'There is no question that bad Bordeaux wine would be included. It is important to remember that the modes of production for vins de pays are entirely different than for AC wines. For example, they are inter-regional blends.'

Feredj told Harpers that the decision on yields was an approval of the principle that yields should reflect market exigencies of supply and demand. The 50hl/ha figure is a guideline that reflects an average for the region: individual ACs will have different requirements and will need adjust their yields according to a realistic assessment of the demand for their wine. He said that the CIVB's recommendation for adjusted yields would need to be approved by the INAO, which he hoped would take into account the importance of market forces when determining yields. 'We cannot ask the EU for subsidies when we haven't tried to rectify the problem of oversupply ourselves.'

He added: 'I have enormous hopes for the future of Bordeaux. It is important to remember that despite the crisis, there is a lot that is going well. Bordeaux has a 2,000-year-old history, so there are bound to be some downturns. We have had to face challenges such as unemployment in France and Germany, as well as a detrimental currency exchange rate with the US. These things hurt, but it is not a problem with Bordeaux but rather of adapting to new conditions.'