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Marlborough needs appellation system, says Forrest

Marlborough growers need an appellation system with strict controls on production levels to avoid losing quality and reputation, according to a leading producer.

Marlborough: ‘loss in quality’?

John Forrest, owner of Forrest Wines in Marlborough, New Zealand, told Decanter.com he would be campaigning over the next year to encourage local producers to introduce a ‘self-enforced appellation system’.

‘Bulk production, combined with the excessive harvest of 2009 and a subsequent loss in quality has become an issue in Marlborough over the last five years’, he said.

‘My goal, and legacy to the wine industry, is to establish a quality-conscious syndicate of producers, with strict controls over yield and quality.’

The organisation, which Forrest hopes will be operational by 2013, would be modelled on the French Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system. Membership would be voluntary and members would contribute financially.

Wine critic Oz Clarke said that he shared some of Dr Forrest’s concerns about a drop in quality in New Zealand’s most famous region, in particular the Sauvignon Blanc wines from the 2008/09 vintages.

‘Marlborough producers released some absolute rubbish from those vintages and should be ashamed of themselves,’ he said.

Sam Lockyer, Forrest Wines’ UK brand manager, said that he believed membership of the proposed syndicate would give wineries a ‘powerful marketing tool on their labels and an assurance to consumers that they can expect a certain level of quality from the wines they purchase.’

  • Early indications for the 2012 harvest suggest the high crop levels of 2008/09 will not be repeated, with a significant fall in volume predicted by David Cox, European director of New Zealand Wine Growers. ‘Marlborough (and Nelson) have experienced some cool temperatures and heavy rains during flowering and so many growers are predicting that this may result a 20-25% fall in tonnage in those two regions,’ New Zealand Wine Growers will be publishing a pre-vintage survey on 20 February 2012.

Written by James Lawrence

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