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Burgundy grands crus to ban machine harvesting

Machine harvesting will be banned in Burgundy's five grands crus monopoles from the 2011 vintage, with a complete ban across all grand cru vineyards expected by 2014.

A group made up of the owners of the monopoles (La Romanée, La Grande Rue, Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, and Clos de Tart) demanded that the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) change the rule book to ban machine harvesters.

The change will come into effect during the upcoming harvest.

Louis Michel Liger-Belair of Domaine Comte Liger-Belair and president of the Union of Burgundy Grands Crus, told Decanter.com, ‘It is important to us to say we can’t use machines.’

‘There are 5% of the grands crus that use machines and it gives us a bad image. Hand harvesting does cost a bit more but the quality is much better,’ he added.

Sylvain Pitiot of Clos de Tart, added, ‘The prohibition of machine harvesters for all grands crus is a wish of the majority of our members but not everyone. In fact, several grands crus use machine harvesters, notably in Corton and especially in Chablis.’

While the law change only concerns the five grands crus monopoles, which already hand harvest 100% of their fruit, it is hoped this sets a precedent for the rest of Burgundy’s grands crus producers. The aim is to eradicate machine harvesters in all grands crus by 2014.

The five grands crus monopoles have also reduced the maximum yield per hectare. It has also tightened the requirement that a varietal wine must contain 85% of the stated variety to 95%.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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