Alain Vironneau, current president of the Syndicate of Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur, is set to take over the presidency of the CIVB.

The move follows Christian Delpeuch’s resignation from the region’s umbrella body, the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux, two weeks ago.

Although the appointment has to be officially confirmed at an AGM on 10 July, few expect it to be opposed.

Vironneau’s current position puts him in charge of the largest wine union in France, with 6,500 members, but even this experience will be tested to the limit when he takes up the poisoned chalice of a distillation crisis, a stalled programme of grubbing up of vines and an impasse between wine merchants and growers.

Many had hoped for a less controversial figure to step forward: Jacques Bertrand, president of Fédération des Grand Vins de Bordeaux, was a cited as a particular favourite. There are worries that Vironneau will prove a divisive figure just when Bordeaux needs stability.

Vironneau was behind the sales block of the 2005 vintage for any price below €1,000 per barrel – a strategy that angered many wine merchants in the region and partly contributed to Delpeuch’s frustrated resignation at the end of May.

One winemaker from the Médoc told decanter.com, ‘Some of his past tactics have been very negative and what we need is a united front.’

As CIVB president, Vironneau will be in charge of a €22m budget, and will hold one of the most powerful positions in Bordeaux.

A spokesperson at the CIVB floated the idea that négotiants may put forward their own candidate but it appears that pragmatism will rule the day. Allan Sichel, the president of the Union of Negotiants, said they would rather concentrate on ensuring a smooth succession.

‘There is no plan for the négociants de put forward their own candidate. Many meetings will take place over the next few weeks to iron out differences and ensure everyone backs the CIVB president. Nothing will be definite until 10 July, but we need to work constructively and positively, and I have no doubt we can do that successfully with Alain Vironneau.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux