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Government orders bird flu protection at En Primeur

As the spread of the H5N1 bird flu virus continues to cause concern across Europe, the French government has ordered Bordeaux chateaux to take protective measures for the En Primeur tastings next week.

This weekend, hundreds of wine journalists from across the world descend on Bordeaux for the wine world’s biggest annual event – the comprehensive tastings of barrel samples of the 2005 vintage.

Mindful that many of the journalists arriving for En Primeur come from countries where the virus has been found, the French Ministry of Health is requiring visitors to all Bordeaux properties to wear protective footwear to guard against the virus being carried on shoes.

The white boot-covers made of toughened paper must be available at the entrance to any chateau hosting a tasting.

And while most properties are making do with standard government-issue white boot covers, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has commissioned a unique batch from British designer Sir Paul Smith.

The covers (pictured), in Smith’s trademark rainbow stripes, will be given out free to any journalist visiting the Pauillac First Growth. Health Ministry officials have approved them as meeting protective standards.

A Ministry spokesman said transmission of the virus was a danger in Bordeaux chateaux. ‘These are basically farm properties – there is often poultry and other livestock roaming free in the courtyards. We cannot be too careful.’

A spokeswoman for Mouton told decanter.com, ‘This is obviously very serious but we thought we could at least add a touch of elegance.’

Chateau Mouton has long been an arbiter of style amongst the grands chateaux of Bordeaux.

The tradition of having a different artist design the Mouton label each year began in 1945 with the iconic 1945 “V” for Victory bottle designed by Philippe Jullian. Since then the worlds’ greatest artists – including Cocteau , Braque, Dali, Henry Moore, Miro, Chagall, Picasso,  Warhol and Francis Bacon – have added to the collection.

Sir Paul Smith has agreed to donate a portion of his fee to charity.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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