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Champagne: Germaine appeals, Orbay accepts

Of the two communes excluded from the new Champagne expansion, one is appealing and the other has accepted the decision.

The commune of Germaine is to contest last week’s decision by the French wine regulator the Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité (INAO) to remove the area’s appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) status.

‘We have already sent the letter to INAO,’ new mayor Corrine Demotier, elected this weekend, said.

‘We have been growing vines here for a long time, at least since the 1940’s and maybe before,’ she said. ‘The vines contribute to our revenues through taxes, as well as being a tourist attraction.’

Of the approximately 1,500ha village, 2ha are currently under vine.

The Verdonk family in Germaine is also contesting the decision. ‘We rent our land out, and we get €800 per month [from just under 1ha of vines]. The declassification will not be good for us financially,’ said Isabelle Verdonk.

The other commune marked for declassification, Orbay l’Abbaye, will probably not contest the decision. ‘The vines are a lot of trouble for not much benefit,’ said mayor Pierre Yves Jardell.

‘There are no private growers in my area, only the big Champagne houses like Vranken. We end up having to pay for storm damage, like mud sliding down from the hills where the vines are planted, and we don’t see the advantages in economic terms.’

Property tax revenues from the 42ha currently planted were minimal, Jardell said. He added that he thought anything aimed at improving the quality of champagne was a good move.

Director of champagne house Vranken, Paul-François Vranken, who has about 15 parcels in Orbay l’Abbaye said he would not comment before the news became official.

Written by Sophie Kevany

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