CIVB president Christian Delpeuch has challenged producers unwilling to distil surplus stocks to ‘explain their attitude’ in the face of the ‘grave’ situation facing French wine

Producers have so far only sent a fraction of the 500,000hl recommended for distillation to ease the problems of surplus stocks.

Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau and Delpeuch reached an agreement for this crisis distillation with the European Wine Management Committee on April 28, 2005.

It was intended as a voluntary measure, but ensured that those who took up the opportunity would get higher subsidies (around €460 per tonneau) for a limited period as an incentive to unload unsold wine.

So far, only 100,000hl has been sent to distillers, and Delpeuch has extended the deadline by two weeks to July 31.

He is desperate to convince more producers to take up the offer, telling a local paper, ‘Distillation is an exceptional opportunity that won’t be given again. If we don’t make a collective effort to distil at least 500,000hl of wine, taking advantage of the additional EU financing, the consequences will be grave. I would ask those who are opposed to this measure to explain their attitude.’

One Bordeaux producer told decanter.com he doesn’t expect the numbers to rise. ‘Many wine makers believe the money is too low. There is a feeling that they don’t spend all year in the vines, making their wine with such loving attention to detail, just to send it off for distillation at below the cost of production. There is too much pride involved.’

Delpeuch said, ‘If Bordeaux doesn’t distil enough wine, we will have to lower the allowable yields for the 2005 harvest. After July 31, it will be too late. By refusing to lose a little today, we will lose a lot tomorrow.’

’To ignore such a golden opportunity is an enormous waste.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux