The Tesseron family of Chateau Pontet-Canet has said it was 'utterly astonished' to learn that its second wine, Les Hauts de Pontet, failed to achieve appellation status for its 2012 vintage.

Pontet-Canet owner Alfred Tesseron has adopted biodynamic farming methods at the estate

The wine failed to pass a panel tasting in Pontet-Canet’s native Pauillac that awards appellation status based on how ‘typical’ it is of the area. The news means that Les Hauts de Pontet 2012 must be labelled as a Vin de France

Blind tastings are carried out just before bottling, and the wine will now be delivered to clients within the next few weeks without the prestigious appellation on the label.

‘Each year, we present our wines and to our utter astonishment, Hauts de Pontet-Canet 2012 did not receive authorisation,’ said Melanie Tesseron, niece of Pontet-Canet owner Alfred Tesseron.

Initial signs were that many negociants feel that the loss of appellation status might not matter too much, especially outside of France, where the appellation system less regarded as a quality symbol.

‘I remain very proud of the wine and absolutely sure of its quality, as are 99.99% of the Bordeaux negociants who have confirmed their en primeur purchases of Hauts de Pontet-Canet 2012 under the new label, Vin de France,’ Tesseron told Decanter.com.

‘There have been increasingly small quantities of Les Hauts de Pontet produced in recent years,’ one leading negociant told Decanter.com. ‘Perhaps this will be a wakeup call that if they are going to keep producing it, they need to focus on it a little bit more. But for now, the strength of the brand will ensure that it finds an audience even without its AOC.’

Since 1974, the National Institute for the Appellations of Origin and Quality (INAO) has employed a system of controls to determine typicity before granting a certificat d’agrément.

This system was reformed in 2008 to a system more similar to that of taxes, where wines have to respect the conditions of production and submit a declaration attesting to the conformity, but are subject to random tests.

The Vin de France category was created to replace Vin de Table in 2009.

Pontet-Canet owner Alfred Tesseron could not be immediately reached for comment, but was quoted in local newspaper Sud-Ouest as saying that he is unmoved by the ruling. ‘The wine has always been consistent and we believe in it,’ he was reported as saying.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux