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‘Crazy’ Sauternes high speed rail plans will jeopardise noble rot, says winemaker union

A proposed high speed rail line connecting Bordeaux to Spain threatens the future of winemaking in Sauternes and Barsac, the local producers' union has warned.

Chateau d’Yquem in Sauternes.

Xavier Planty
, co-owner of Chateau Guiraud and president of the local winemakers’ union, said the rail line would destroy the microclimate in Sauternes and Barsac, jeopardising the formation of noble rot that is so crucial to the areas’ renowned sweet wines.

Construction plans for the new line – called GPSO or Grand Projet ferroviaire du Sud-Ouest and set connect Toulouse, Bordeaux and northern Spain – were outlined in October 2013. It would not be ready until 2027.

Sauternes and Barsac producers are the latest in Bordeaux to voice disquiet about the line, which has caused concern in Bordeaux wine circles since plans first emerged several years ago.

Until 8 December, the public has the opportunity to comment under France’s environmental code.

‘We only noticed late about its environmental impact,’ Planty told Decanter.com ahead of a press conference. ‘The project is crazy.’

He said the project could end winemakers’ careers in Sauternes and Barsac.

‘One of the railway lines would cut the Ciron river in three places and in 30 of its tributaries, and thus make the water warmer, which would eliminate the essential botrytis-making fog that defines Sauternes,’ said Planty.

He urged members of the public to complain about the plan on the GPSO website.

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Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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