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Montgolfier accepts UMC president role

Published:  23 July, 2008

Ghislain de Montgolfier, president of Champagne Bollinger, has been appointed as the new president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC). He will take up his position on 15 March, the day of the UMC's annual general assembly.

Montgolfier is likely to leave his current role as president of the Association Viticole Champenoise (the CIVC's technical arm, which conducts research and advises on viticulture) because of his increased workload.

Montgolfier said he plans to act strongly against growers who prune to gain increased yields. If growers don't prune correctly their vineyards will lose their right to the appellation,' he said. We use the carrot and the baton. The first grower to play with this is in danger. News travels fast and we will act.'

Montgolfier is not against yields rising naturally from favourable growing conditions. We are against excessive yields,' he said, but low yields have in the past meant bad grapes. 1978, 1980 and 1981 were low-yielding years compared with 1982 and 1983, but you'd choose the last two vintages any day.'

A new role of vice president of the UMC has been created for Jean-Marie Barillre of Mot & Chandon, alongside Montgolfier. This, some are suggesting, has been done to ease the pain of Barillre losing out to Montgolfier in the bid to lead the UMC. According to one senior figure in Champagne: We don't want to give the impression that LVMH can or wants to control everything.'

Montgolfier replaces Yves Bnard, recently appointed president of the Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualit (INAO). He admitted that Bnard will be a hard act to follow. He is an agronomist, so he can walk into a vineyard and diagnose any faults'.

Founded in 1882, the UMC represents major houses in Champagne, and its president is automatically co-president of the CIVC.