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Bordeaux to cut number of chateaux names

In an attempt to simplify Bordeaux wines for the consumer, estates are being told to stop using several different chateau names for the same wine, bottled at the same property.

The usual practice today – officially disallowed by a 1921 decree that is widely ignored – is to use a different name for each different sales channel, namely supermarkets, restaurants, and even countries. Although there are around 7,000 winemakers in the region, there are over 12,000 chateaux names.

The Bordeaux wine union, the Federation des Syndicats des Grands Vins de Bordeaux (FGVB), has been given until 31 January 2008 for properties to decide which of their current names they wish to keep. They have been allowed a maximum of two. The eventual aim is to bring the number of names down to under 10,000.

‘A chateau may use only one name,’ a spokesperson at the FGVB told decanter.com. ‘With the possibility of a second if it can be proved it was in use before 1983. Two properties may also be vinified in the same cellars, as long as the vinifications are carried out completely separately.’

The 1921 decree states that only one chateau name per property may be used. Over the years, however, the rule was less and less strictly applied. In 1993, a new decree was issued restating the rule, but it wasn’t until the crisis of 2001/2002 that its application became a priority.

The decision will affect chateaux across the region, including Chateau Falfas in Cotes de Bourg, that currently bottles under three different names. Lurton properties such as Chateau Quantin and Chateau Coucheroy will also be affected.

‘We want consumers to feel that when they buy a chateau from Bordeaux, they can have confidence in where it comes from,’ said Thomas Jullien, marketing manager of the Bordeaux wine trade body, the CIVB.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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