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Winemakers reject Bordeaux reforms

Published:  23 July, 2008

Government proposals to introduce a new category within the AOC system have been rejected unequivocally by winemakers in Bordeaux.

The idea was first introduced by the Conseil National de la Viticulture in November 2006, and proposed dividing the current AOC category by introducing a new Indication d'Origine Contrle (IOC) division for lesser regional appellations, in which winemaking regulations would be less strict.

Supporters claim the AOC category is currently too wide and has become confusing for the customer, incorporating 450 appellations with prices from 1 to 1,000 a bottle.

Speaking to the Bordeaux daily newspaper Bordeaux 7,

the French Ministry of Agriculture said that the redefinition of the AOC category would be a step to responding to the demands of the market and making the system easier to understand.'

However, critics have pointed out that the Vin de Pays Atlantiques was established in 2006 and the system does not need another category to confuse matters further.

In advance of the vote, Bernard Farges, president of the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Suprieur AOC, which represents 6,000 producers, told newpaper Sud-Ouest: We will vote against it. We fiercely want to remain AOC. The AOC title is so strong that no producer in France would want to lose it.'

Following the unanimous rejection, Elodie Pasty at the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO) was not too disappointed: According to my sources, winemakers are actually divided by the idea,' she said. But it is easier to market a wine with AOC on the label rather than a new category, which, at first, nobody has heard of.'

Rolland Feredj, director general at the Conseil Interprofessional du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB), said: 'Bordeaux does not want a new category for AOC to make our wines easier to understand. In order to be more competitive on the global market it is a better bet to improve quality across the board.'

The national committee meets at the end of February to review the vote. Pasty said it was difficult to say what would happen now, but claimed the debate is to be continued'.