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Published:  23 July, 2008

By David Williams

The French Government must accept the radical overhaul to its wine laws proposed in a report by the CAP 2010 group of leading industry figures (set up following the Berthomeau report) if it is to survive in the UK, according to Jean-Marie Chadronnier, managing director of major Bordeaux ngociant CVBG Dourthe-Kressmann. The proposals include the introduction of a new category, Cpages des France (Varieties of France) that would allow French vignerons to make varietal wine with 80% of one grape variety (rather than the 100% currently required) with no regional appellation, and to use oak chips if desired. Were it to be introduced, the category would help the French to compete on a level playing field with our rivals', particularly Australia, Chadronnier, one of seven members of the CAP 2010 group, told the audience at the Sopexa French Wine Awards in London last week. France is currently imposing extremely vigorous rules on itself which are of no use to the consumer. The French offer must be made simple,' said Chadronnier. For too long' the country had blindly concentrated on the beau upper end' and the bottom end, and had allowed its competitors, particularly Australia, to take over at 5 to 10'. We have made our act of contrition, we have recognised our weaknesses,' Chadronnier continued. Most of the industry is aware of the urgency [of the situation] and in the next three months we will meet with the agricultural minister. It is a case of to be or not to be for the French wine industry.' Fischnaller and Boutinot triumph Patrick Fischnaller, sommelier at the Orrery and Almeida restaurants, and Cheshire-based importer Paul Boutinot Agencies, took the plaudits at the 2002 French Wine Awards at the Victoria Plaza Hotel in London last week. Fischnaller, the epitome of what a French wine ambassador should be', according to the judges, beat Eric Berneau from Enotria to take the On-trade Personality of the Year' title. Nigel Wilkinson of RSJ Wine was highly commended for his work in developing the Loire Valley. Boutinot picked up the Best New Product Launch' title for its work in successfully targeting the 25- to 45-year-old age bracket' with Fruits of France. Guy Anderson Wines claimed the runner-up prize for Calvet XF.