Wine industry outraged over France 2 programme

France 2,Bollinger,Rothschild News Wine News
  • Friday 16 October 2009

The wine industry has slammed a French television report on pesticides in wine as ‘misleading’.

The programme said pesticide traces in wine may lead to illness. It also described the use of non indigenous yeasts in fermentation and the addition of sugar (chaptalisation) as unnatural.

‘Wine, is it still a natural product?’ was viewed by millions in France earlier this month on the national channel France 2.

Jean-Louis Salies, president of the Comité National des Interprofessions des Vins à Appellation d’Origine (CNIV) expressed ‘profound anger’ at the report.

In an 8 October letter to France 2, obtained by decanter.com, he wrote, ‘Pesticide use has dramatically dropped in the last ten years. Any residual pesticide in glass is subject to maximum limits.’

In the programme Ghislain de Montgolfier of Champagne Bollinger admits there are traces of pesticides in wine, but they would be harmful only if consumed in massive amounts.

‘So I would not advise you to drink more than 150 bottles of Champagne per day,’ he joked.

He later explained to decanter.com pesticide levels in wine must be ‘within limits for wine and wine grapes established by the World Health Organisation’ and ‘the programme was totally misleading.’

‘This was a programme made by non-professionals to scare non-professionals,’ Diane Flamand, oenologist with Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite), told decanter.com.

‘What shocked me is that they did not address lutte raisonée [a system of using pesticides ‘within reasonable limits’: less often and less aggressively]; excessive pesticide use was a problem 15 years ago, but not today.’

In his letter, Salies also lamented the ‘public doubt’ created by the programme, which ‘misinformed the public’ in defining added yeasts as ‘added chemicals’ and wrongly blurred the line between chaptalisation and surchaptalisation (authorised and unauthorised added sugar).

New video: How to Serve Wine, with Steven Spurrier

Follow us on Twitter

Wine News

Wine News

Daily wine news - the latest breaking wine news from around the world