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New CIVB president announces dramatic reduction in ‘basic Bordeaux’

A plan to drastically reduce the number of chateaux producing low cost 'basic Bordeaux' was unveiled this week.

At a meeting announcing the handover of the presidency of the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) from winemaker Alain Vironneau to negociant Georges Haushalter, general manager of Compagnie Medocaine des Grands Crus, the ideas for ‘Bordeaux Tomorrow’ were laid out.

The plan is to increase overall production by 12% while reducing the current 1.1m hectolitre production of ‘basic Bordeaux’ – considered to be wine sold for less than €2 in France.

Grants and other subsidies will be used to either pull up vines, or help winemakers retire from the business. In properties that are borderline, experienced winemakers will be brought in to help improve quality.

The number of growers will drop by 26% and vineyard surface will shrink by 7%.

At the same time, the production of wine in the more profitable areas of Bordeaux will be increased.

A simplified labelling system will help consumers identify what type of wine they are buying. The strategy aims to increase current revenues of €3.5bn to €4.5bn by 2020.

At the meeting Haushalter said ‘basic’ Bordeaux ‘does not correspond to the image of Bordeaux’.

Bernard Fargues, president of the AOC Bordeaux and Superieur syndicate, where much of this basic Bordeaux is grown, told decanter.com there was a ‘demographic problem’ in terms of an ageing winemakering population, with ‘older winemakers wanting to retire but not enough young ones wanting to take their place’.

‘So we are looking at restructuring the vineyard area, perhaps making it easier for winemakers to group together, or to find a way to halt production at vineyards that are past the point of repair. We must save what is able to be saved.’

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Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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