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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Josie Butchart

The president of the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB), Christian Delpeuch, has met with the French minister of agriculture to demand that more decision-making power be devolved to a regional level. Considering how quickly the global wine markets are changing, the CIVB now considers it necessary to have its own political and economic power,' Delpeuch told Harpers. We have established a proposal, outlining every change we would like to make and every law we would like to control. Our plans are realistic, so we are hoping for a concrete and positive response from the minster of agriculture,' he said. Delpeuch will meet the minister of agriculture again on 17 February, and, if the proposal is agreed, the transfer of power should start within two to three months, and be concluded in a year. Delpeuch indicated that Bordeaux would be a test region for the introduction of regional autonomy across France, and that other wine regions, including Beaujolais, Rhne and Burgundy had indicated that they are keen to follow closely behind if the initiative succeeds. Changes that have been proposed by the CIVB include the introduction of higher-density planting in vineyards; the tasting of wines for AOC approval closer to bottling; and the possibility of allowing oak chips to be used for generic Bordeaux. Allan Sichel, president of the Union des Maisons de Bordeaux, fully supports the plans, and told Harpers that the transfer of power to the CIVB would make a huge difference to the speed with which Bordeaux could react to the changing demands of international markets. There is a huge willingness to move forward at the CIVB, but unfortunately it never seems to lead anywhere at the moment, because everything has to be referred to Paris. If the CIVB could control yield limits, for instance, it would have the double effect of reducing volumes, while at the same time improving the quality and the expression of terroir in the wines,' he said. Sichel added that at this year's Vinexpo, Maison Sichel will launch a new front label for the Sirius brand, stating the constituent grape varieties, now that it is legally allowed in France (EU law superseded French law in June 2004). We are reclaiming ownership of our grape varieties,' he said.