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New Pomerol legislation could cripple properties

Pomerol proprietors say they face 'deep debt' if new legislation forcing them to make their wine within the appellation is upheld.

The decision, made earlier this month by the Pomerol wine union (Syndicat Viticole de Pomerol), will ensure all the estates will make their wines within the appellation’s 780 acres by 2018.

With Pomerol land costing around €1m per hectare (ha), some producers say the ruling will cripple them.

‘The estate has been in our family since 1861 and the wines have been vinified in St. Emilion,’ said Sandrine Ybert, owner of Domaine Vieux Taillefer. ‘The small plot we have in Pomerol has no electricity or water – either we need to sell it or go deep into debt.’

Ybert’s comments were echoed by Charles Estager of Château La Fleur Grangeneuve whose 1.66ha do not include a single building.

‘We have been vinifying the wine 200m away, at Château Fougeailles in Lalande de Pomerol…I cannot afford to build a new chai just to vinify 1.6ha,’ said Estager, who also owns over 5ha in Montagne St-Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol.

Pomerol union president Jean Marie Garde said the vote followed on from an earlier, similar, decision in 1998. He said the rule followed the same logic as the St Emilion Grand Cru system and that it ‘validates the notion of “mis en bouteille au chateau”.’

He added that about 20 chateaux opposed the ruling.

‘This is economic nonsense, enological nonsense and just unfair,’ said Paul Goldschmidt of Château Vray Croix de Gay (vinified at his Lalande de Pomerol property Château Siaurac). ‘By 2018, I would have to invest some €600,000 for a new chai, for just 20,000 bottles per year, including my second wine. Vinifying the wine a short distance away does not affect the quality.’

Jean-Michel Laporte of Château La Conseillante says a middle ground could be followed: ‘Given the cost [of Pomerol land], why not allow certain châteaux who have been vinifying just outside Pomerol for a long time to continue and require new entrants [who can afford the property prices] to vinify in Pomerol?’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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