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AOC Bordeaux in desperate straits, new book says

A third of appellation Bordeaux winemakers may lose their vineyards within a year, a new book claims.

Restera t’il des vignerons a Bordeaux? (‘Will there be any winemakers left in Bordeaux?’) by Jean Renaud of Chateau La Mothe Castera in Entre deux Mers, reflects the growing crisis in entry level Bordeaux wines.

The book was written in collaboration with the Collectif des Viticulteurs de Gironde, an association formed in 2004 to give a voice to smaller winemakers who, Renaud told decanter.com, ‘are often forgotten about by the official bodies.’

Renaud questions whether the 4,500 winemakers in the generic AOC Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur appellations can survive the current crisis, where a tonneau of wine (900 litres) is being sold at €700 – which is about the cost of production.

Before the crisis, AOC Bordeaux was selling for €1000-1200. AOC Medoc – a step up from AOC Bordeaux – was around €2,000, AOC Sauternes around €6,000 per tonneau.

‘And even at that price, no merchant wants to buy it. There is a whole group of winemakers who have traditionally lived by selling their wine in bulk under the regional appellation of Bordeaux – and this is now dead,’ Renaud writes.

Official bodies should allow the yield per hectare to be raised in order to lower production costs, as well as allow winemakers a reserve of wine in good years. This could be blended in years such as 2009, when vineyards have been decimated by hail.

‘This crisis is more severe than any we have experienced in the recent past,’ Renaud said.

‘Everyone is having a tough time, but I believe that around a third of AOC Bordeaux winemakers may close their vineyards by this time next year. We want this book to plant a seed – whether people agree or not, to make them think about what we are facing.’

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Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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