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New CIVB head plans tough new regime

Too many Bordeaux wines don't deserve the name - and winemakers must be quicker to understand the styles demanded by the international market, the newly-elected head of the CIVB has told decanter.com.

Christian Delpeuch, general director of Bordeaux’s biggest negotiant Ginestet, was appointed president of the Conseil Interprofessionel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) on Monday. He succeeds Jean-Louis Trocard, and will head the most important wine industry body in France for a two-year period.

Delpeuch makes no secret of the fact he is inheriting the CIVB mantle at a very difficult time for Bordeaux. ‘I am going to have my work cut out,’ he told French newspaper Sud Ouest.

Now in his first interview with decanter.com he has set out his ideas for some far-reaching and radical measures to combat the French wine industry slump.

‘If it was up to me, Bordeaux wine makers could plant whatever grapes they like,’ he said, before adding, ‘but I am a liberal, and many would not agree with me.’

One thing that everyone agrees on is that something has to be done to ease the current discrepancy between supply and demand.

‘My first priority as president is to clarify what we offer to the world. Modern consumers are quality-driven, and this is what Bordeaux should excel at. Our reputation has been built on the skill of our wine makers, our management and knowledge of terroir.’

Delpeuch said under his presidency there would be new tough measures to deal with under-performing wines – and that winemakers should look at the international market and understand what sort of styles worked abroad.

‘Too often there are wines with the Bordeaux name that do not deserve the title, and we have been too slow to accommodate the changing tastes for fuller fruits and softer, rounder tannins.

‘We need to be far tougher on vignobles who put quantity above quality, and ensure that we have stricter tastings at the point of bottling, to ensure a minimum quality is maintained.’

He also said he would revive the idea of a much wider appellation (first mooted some years ago with the idea of a ‘cepage de France’). One of the advantages of this would be that winemakers could add grapes like Tannat from outside Bordeaux, to give wines extra body.

‘I am in favour of creating a new category of ‘Vins des cépages d’Aquitaine’, outside of the AOC system, where Bordeaux wine makers can market via grape variety.’

Lastly, Delpeuch lambasted producers who tried to pin the blame for the slump on external forces.

‘Wine makers who are doing badly can blame the CIVB, can blame the negociants, can blame the government. But we all need to work together on this. We can’t go to the world market with mediocre wines.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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