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Cognac loses historic winemaking right

The French government confirmed last week that winemakers in Cognac will lose their historic right to cépage à double fin.

Until now, growers in the Charente, France’s third biggest wine area, have been able to decide after harvest whether to put their grapes into Cognac, Pineau de Charentes, vin de pays, table wines, sparkling wines or spirits – rather than before the growing season. Any excess could then be sent to Brussels for distillation.

With the facility for EU distillation now withdrawn, this approach to winemaking has also come to an end, Dominique Bussereau, France’s agriculture minister, has announced.

From 1 August 2007 the Charente will be brought in line with the rest of France, with specific rules governing yields, grape varieties, vineyard practices for Cognac, and for each of the possible end products.

Wine makers will declare their intentions for three or four successive years at a time – although still with the possibility of modifying their position each year, as long as it is done in advance of harvest.

‘Not all of our producers are happy, but it will make the image of our area far less confusing, and raise quality across the board.’ Alain Philippe, director of BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac), told decanter.com.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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