A new Bordeaux Premier Cru category is a ‘flamboyant title’ to disguise quality issues in the region, a leading British merchant has warned.

An application for a Bordeaux Premier Cru appellation has been lodged this week with the French appellation body, the INAO. The idea is to create an extra appellation sitting above Bordeaux Superieur, to further differentiate its entry level wines.

However Simon Staples, sales and marketing director at Bordeaux specialist, Berry Bros & Rudd, attacked the proposal.

‘Adding Premier Cru, presumably so a euro or two can be added to the cost, with no change in the chais or vineyards, will only highlight the quality issue further and will send the discerning customer diving for a much cheaper and more rewarding bottle of Chilean Cabernet or Aussie Shiraz,’ he said.

‘It is quality and then price which gets customers to return and masking something with a flamboyant title won’t work. The consumer has more nouse than this and will see through it,’ he added.

But Bernard Farges, president of the Bordeaux-Bordeaux Superieur AOP, defended the region’s quality standards.

He told decanter.com, ‘Bordeaux Superieur already has some of the most exacting rules for production in Bordeaux, but the resulting wines are often lost among the hierarchy of the region’s wines.

‘We hope that this new appellation will give a way for the very best producers to break through the glass ceiling of price and prestige.’

There will be no difference in terms of yield, but maximum alcohol limits will be higher, and the tasting panel will be stricter.

The Premier Cru category was originally intended to replace Bordeaux Superieur. Farges agreed that replacing Bordeaux Superieur would have been more coherent, but the rest of the syndicate believed it would cause even greater market confusion.

A descision from the INAO is not expected for at least one year.

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Written by Jane Anson & Rebecca Gibb