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Toxic smoke damages Leoville Las Cases 2013 harvest

Bordeaux's Chateau Léoville Las Cases has had to write-off a portion of its 2013 harvest after vines were unwittingly polluted by smoke from a neighbouring estate.

Smoke tainted around six hectares of vines on the 100-ha estate of St Julien-based Léoville Las Cases (pictured), a classified second-growth, in mid-September, according to owner Jean Hubert Delon.

The source of the smoke was an area normally used for burning plant waste at neighbouring Chateau Léoville Poyferré.

Someone is believed to have hidden canisters containing polyurethane filler and plaster panels in an existing pile of plant waste.

When the fire was lit, toxic smoke drifted onto vines at Léoville Las Cases, blackening leaves and blocking maturation. Grapes in the affected area had to be harvested early and vinified separated.

‘The most important thing to say is that wine from these grapes will not be used in our production,’ Delon told decanter.com. ‘We will likely send it to the distillery.’ He said losing grapes just 15 days before the harvest was ‘very hard’, but declined to put a price on damage caused.

Léoville Poyferré’s owner, Didier Cuvelier, told decanter.com, ‘it is completely our responsibility, but the people who lit the fire did not see the hidden waste’.

He criticised the area’s irresponsible attitude to waste management, saying people will dump anything. Other producers in the area have also found waste dumped on their properties, he added.

Cuvelier said the two chateaux were in communication over the problem and their insurance companies were currently assessing the damage.

Written by Sophie Kevany

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