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Delpeuch urges rapid and radical reform

CIVB president Christian Delpeuch has urged the Bordeaux wine trade to rapidly reform to avert the present crisis.

By the end of January 2005 he wants to see a decision taken on three important issues: indemnities fixed for a vine pull scheme, the creation of a mixed vins de pays/vins d’appellation zone and the adoption of practices such as the use of oak staves or chips for generic appellations.

‘The market is waiting for Bordeaux to take strong action and put its house in order,’ he told journalists at the Club de la Presse de Bordeaux.

Recently released figures for 2003-2004 show an overall drop in sales of Bordeaux of 3% by volume and 8% value. The domestic market remains relatively stable but exports fell by 9% in terms of volume and 18% value. The downturn was particularly evident in Denmark, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and United States. More positive results were seen in Asian countries and Russia.

Delpeuch has made no bones about the need for a change of mentality in Bordeaux.

‘Consumption is changing and 25 to 30 percent of Bordeaux is either not adapted to today’s market or is qualitatively questionable,’ he said.

Overproduction continues to be a bane, with the 2004 harvest looking likely to scale 7m hectolitres. ‘If we continue to produce more than 5m hectolitres the result will be catastrophic.’

The vine pull scheme would see a reduction of between 8,000 to 10,000 hectares, the equivalent of 600,000 hl of wine. This would be mainly generic Bordeaux and certain Côtes with indemnities financed by the European Union, regional authorities and the CIVB.

Regarding marketing and promotion Delpeuch says there’s a real debate as to whether the money would be better spent on quality control and economic management.

In the meantime the CIVB will continue to reorient its programme away from publicity towards action on the ground – ie tastings and marketing and commercial missions around the world. ‘We need to convince the buyers and opinion leaders, get bottles back on the shelves and then think about publicity,’ he said.

Delpeuch also lambasted prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin for his decision to oppose the amendment to soften the Evin law on restrictions on drink advertising.

‘It is scandalous,’ he said, ‘if we can’t be strong in our own country we can’t be strong on exports.’

Written by James Lawther in Bordeaux

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