The French wine industry has asked the EU to allow the industrial distillation of 1bn litres (10m hectolitres) of wine.
The move is to be financed by Brussels and the French government. Brussels has been asked to provide €300m to subsidise the process. The proposal is being seen as not only a way of dealing with the ever-deepening European wine lake, but as a fresh start for the struggling wine industry.
Although the proposal is Europe-wide, French wine will make up one quarter of the total. The real shock for many, however, is that the majority of the French quota will be Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) wine and not the lesser Vin de Pays.
‘This is the first time in history that French AOC wines are forced to call in the distillers due to the gravity of the crisis,’ Denis Verdier, head of the French Wine Cellars Confederation (CCVF), told Agence France Presse.
Under the current proposals 200m litres of AOC wine and 50m litres of Vin de Pays would be distilled for industrial purposes, mainly for fuel and the pharmaceutical industry.
For the first time in 10 years France has a 200m-litre surplus of wine as a result of the abundant 2004 vintage. An estimated 100m litres of this comes from Bordeaux alone.
Written by Oliver Styles, and agencies