Bordeaux producer unmoved by INAO ruling

Bordeaux producer unmoved by INAO ruling News Wine News
  • Friday 3 November 2000

Chateau Valandraud's Jean-Luc Thunevin (pictured) says he will sell his 2000 vintage above the price of First Growths - despite the authorities downgrading his wine to a vin de table.

The INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine in Saint-Emilion) declassified Thunevin's wine this year for using plastic sheeting on the soil round the vines at Valandraud.

Already looked upon as the enfant terrible in Bordeaux, Thunevin remains indignant. 'The plastic is only a sort of insurance against heavy rain which can make the grapes swell up and dilute, resulting in a watery wine.' He says. 'Anyway, I'm going to sell my de-classified table wine at a higher price than the First Growths.'

According to the Institut, the decision was swung by vintners from the Rhone, Loire and Alsace, who have pushed for a ban on plastic sheeting. Also, the authorities couldn't allow tourist to Saint-Emilion to look out onto a vineyard, in this case Valandraud, covered with white plastic.

This is not a unique case and the well-known oenologist, Michel Rolland, has his own reservations on the under-fire AC system. He also put plastic sheeting over his vines at Chateau Fontenil in Fronsac - and paid the price. 'I laid the plastic on August 22 and received the letter of declassification on August 25,' he says, 'They did not waste time'.

He considers the regulations of the appellation controllee system as 'too restrictive and too interventionist', citing the fact that any plastic sheeting method needs at least three years before positive results can be drawn.

There are other vintners too - Jean-Louis Despagne at Chateau Tour de Mirambeau in the Entre-Deux-Mers says, 'I experimented with the use of plastic and was satisfied with the result, especially last year when it rained continually.'

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