A new quality control system introduced this month for Bordeaux wines has been welcomed by producers although it has yet to prove itself.

The first advantage claimed for the new system is that wines are now tested by an independent group, rather than by the profession’s own wine association, the Institut National de l’Origine (INAO).

The second is that the system claims to test the entire chain of production from vineyard to bottle, not simply the wine, as before. Wines are also tested on a random basis prior to bottling, rather than by samples sent in by producers.

‘It takes more time, but I am convinced the credibility of our wines will be improved,’ said Tony Ballu, director of Clos Fourtet in St Emilion.

‘Before there was always a risk that the samples presented were not necessarily what was in the bottle,’ he added.

Other producers said the value of the new AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system had yet to show that it could replace the previous method, despite its flaws.

‘The idea is good, but it will only be validated if it succeeds in sorting bad wines from good,’ said Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown in Pessac-Leognan. ‘We know with the old system only one or two per cent of wines were ever rejected. If everyone gets their exams, what is the point?’

For 90% of Bordeaux growers the new approval system will be handled by Quali-Bordeaux, the independent tester appointed last June.

Director Régis de Lescar said so far things were running well.

‘The main issue at the moment is helping people make the transition. We have been dealing with about 100 phone calls a day,’ he said.

Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux