Nine Pomerol chateaux are celebrating a victory over hugely unwelcome changes in appellation rules.
Pomerol: ‘huge relief’
Under the new rules, published in 2009 and coming into effect in 2019, all winemakers who were bottling an AOC Pomerol wine would have to produce the wine from a chai, or cellar, within the appellation.
This meant that 23 chateaux which did not have winemaking facilities within Pomerol would have to construct them by the 2019 deadline, or risk no longer being able to produce a Pomerol wine.
The group, the Bannis de Pomerol, consisting of nine of the excluded chateaux, appealed to the Conseil d’Etat, the highest administrative court in France, and has won a reprieve.
On 9 March the court ruled that the original decree of 14 October 2009 exerted an excess of power, and went against the European Charter of Human Rights, and the usual rules in French winemaking.
Winemakers in AOC Pomerol should now still be allowed to vinify their wines outside the appellation. Things have been slightly complicated by new appellation rules published in November 2011 allowing cellars within the commune of Libourne to vinify Pomerol.
This means the Bannis de Pomerol will still have to ensure the appellation rules are extended to allow Lalande-de-Pomerol as a zone of bottling, but the decision of the Conseil d’Etat should make this possible.
Paul Goldschmidt, of Chateau Vray Croix de Gay, told Decanter.com, ‘We are not quite there yet, but this is a huge relief. Some producers transport their grapes even further distances from vineyards to cellars within Pomerol itself, and it makes no sense to penalise us because we move them a few kilometres over the border to Lalande-de-Pomerol.’
Yannick Evenou of Chateau Fayat in Pomerol was less certain. ‘Anything that can cast doubt on the quality of Pomerol wines is not something to be celebrated.’
The nine chateaux involved were Grand Moulinet, Haut-Tropchaud, Lafleur Grangeneuve, La Truffe, Les Graves de Canterau, Vray Croix de Gay, Clos de la Vieille Eglise, Domaine de la Pointe and Domaine Vieux Taillefer.
The Conseil d’Etat awarded them €3,000 in compensation.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux