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Years of debate ends with new Bourgogne Côte D’Or approval

Published:  21 August, 2017

French authorities have approved Bourgogne Côte D’Or, a new regional appellation, which could become a new premium area of wine production in the heart of Burgundy.

The new Bourgogne Côte D’Or appellation is a delimited geographical area of about 1,000 ha, essentially covering Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune regions of production.

As well as incorporating stricter wine production rules than the existing generic Burgundy appellation, local producers say the new appellation provides guarantees over the provenance and identity of wines.

“I will be using the new appellation for wine made from this forthcoming harvest: it ensures that reds are made 100% from Pinot Noir and not blended with Gamay and that whites are made entirely from 100% Chardonnay,” said Philippe Charlopin, an independent producer in Gevry Chambertin.

“The existing generic Burgundy AOC covers a vast area of Burgundy extending to Beaujolais, but this new appellation delimits a specific geographical area with stricter rules over density, yields and higher minimum alcohol levels, ” said Charlopin, who has been fighting for the creation of the Bourgogne Côte D’Or regional appellation for the past 20 years.

The approval of the new appellation ends years of political wrangling between French authorities including the Côte D’Or administrative department.

France's appellation authority, the INAO, has previously been reticent to approve appellations which are not strictly based on terroir.

Under rules for the new appellation, minimum vineyard density will be 9,000 vines per hectare, instead of 5,000 for the generic Burgundy AOC. Yields will be set at 66 hectolitres (hl) per ha for whites and 58hl for reds, versus 68hl and 60hl respectively for AOC Burgundy.

The minimum degree of alcohol will be 11 for white and 10.5 for red, instead of 10.5 and 10.2 for AOC Burgundy.

The influential Burgundy negociants trade body, Union des Maisons de Vins de Bourgogne (UMVB), told Harpers that producers and negociants opting to use the new appellation would, regarding prices, position themselves independently in the market.

Meanwhile Charlopin dismissed some industry concerns that the new appellation may lead to increases in prices.

He said: “I don’t think prices will increase, at least in the short term. Prices in the heart of Burgundy are already (with recent harvests of low yields) high,” he said.

Some producers have previously voiced concerns that the new Bourgogne Côte D’Or appellation would add further confusion to consumers grappling with Burgundy’s complex appellation system.

But some negociants and producers hope the use of the attractive name Côte D’Or will be a boon to lure exporters and buyers.

“It is a pretty name and it will allow marketing segmentation,” said Pierre Gernelle, director of the UMVB.

“Essentially, the appellation is a qualitative upgrade towards a premium regional appellation to a level that will should come close to certain village appellations,” Gernelle told Harpers.