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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Stuart Peskett

Muscadet's governing body is changing its AC boundaries in a bid to improve quality. The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Nantes (CIVN) is starting the second part of its six-year plan, which could lead to some Muscadet producers changing the description of their wine - or even changing their career. The CIVN says the plan aims for more control over the production process; to reposition the wine categories to make life simpler for consumers; to increase commerciality'; and to work more closely with other Loire wine professional bodies. At this month's Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers, CIVN president Pierre Lieubeau said: We want to have a family of Muscadets of different qualities, and we want customers to understand what this family is. At the moment, they do not understand it very well. Things are going to change in Muscadet vineyards, because we've got to restructure them.' He admitted that after the restructuring, some producers will have to stop', adding: Each producer will have to have an objective. Many are quite old, so they will have to sell their vineyards soon. They are going to be helped and it's not the whole area that will disappear.' Lieubeau explained that the restructuring of the Svre et Maine appellation will take three years. The CIVN began to select the favourable areas 10 years ago, so that if a young producer takes over a retiring winemaker's plot, he will take only the good' areas of the vineyard. Jean-Jacques Bonnet, a vigneron at Bonnet-Huteau, told Harpers he was concerned that some growers could be forced out of business, but that in the long term, it's the correct decision. He said: Some of the growers have been there 60-70 years, so it's to their advantage to pull out those vines. I want the Muscadet appellation as a whole to be regarded as better quality. There is still too much Muscadet produced. Certain vineyards should be pulled in order to reduce the overall production. I'm not totally comfortable with the idea, but from a long-term standpoint, it's the right thing to do, because we had a situation where people outside the appellation were told "Go ahead and make Muscadet because we need more of it". Now people realise this was a mistake because it devalued the entire appellation. Once we get rid of the willing participants, we will be in a better position to segment the appellation by quality so that people will stop thinking of Muscadet as one wine. Then, if people want a cheap, easy-to-drink Muscadet, that will still be available, but still of a reasonable quality. This is rewarding the vast majority of producers by enabling them to make their own type of Muscadet. I hope it happens sooner rather than later, because the vineyard needs it.' Lieubeau also announced details of the third tier of Muscadet, the Cru. It will be a very special one,' he said. It's not a question of quality and it's not better than Sur Lie. Ninety producers are working on this new plan. They will get the label "Cru" in a few years' time. The producers want it to be well known. With Sur Lie, the wine spends six months to one year on the lees - it's two years for the Cru.'