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Sancerre producers’ union threatens to leave appellation

The Sancerre producers’ union has said its members are considering leaving France’s appellation system in protest at the planned closure of a local administrative office.

A meeting called by the Union Viticole Sancerroise (UVS) has opened the door to producers ditching appellation status for a new Sancerre umbrella brand.

Producers are annoyed at a decision by France’s National Appellations Institute, INAO, to close down its regional outpost in Sancerre, leaving producers facing a 130-mile journey to their nearest office, in Tours.

The move is a sign of French government budget cutbacks, and INAO is looking to close down ten out of 25 regional offices.

At the UVS meeting in Sancerre, Gilles Guillerault, vice-president of the local syndicate, said that producers could stop paying their membership fees.

The UVS has asked three French universities that specialise in law – Bordeaux Montesqieu IV, Aix-Marseille III and Reims-Champagne-Ardennes – to assess the economic and legal repercussions of creating a Sancerre trademark.

‘So far, these are just threats,’ Arnaud Bourgeois, of Domaine Henri Bourgeois, told decanter.com.

‘The question is not whether leaving the INAO is technically possible, but rather whether it is sensible. AOC has a true value in France, and differentiates us from overseas wine regions.

‘It is quite right that we should question the decision of the INAO, and register our concern, but it is too early to make any decisions.’

The INAO has so far not returned calls for a comment.

Written by Jane Anson

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