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Winners and losers revealed in Champagne shake-up

The two communes that will be struck off the revised champagne growing area have been named in the French press as Germaine and Orbay l’Abbaye, both in the Marne area of France.

Two major brands, Moet et Chandon and Vranken Monopole, as well as a number of other producers, look set to lose their rights to grow Champagne grapes in these areas.

Neither company would comment this morning on the changes.

At the same time 40 new communes in Marne, Haute Marne, Aube and Aisne will be included into the exclusive agricultural area dubbed El Dorado.

The naming of the struck off communes follows the official announcement last night by French wine regulator, L’Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité (INAO), of increses to the number of growing areas from 319 communes, to 357, but it did not give further details.

INAO refused to comment on this morning’s reports, saying only that the names would be published in about 15 days from now in the official French government journal.

An agricultural historian from Aisne, one of the villages in the excluded area, told journalists he had been given no explanation as to why, though he suspected it had more to do with local rivalries than soil quality.

For growers who lose their plantation rights, however, compensations will be available, including a delay in the removal of their rights.

Sylvie le Brun, who heard last night that her area, in the town of Montmirail, will be included, said, ‘It’s a good thing and not only for the producers. This will be good for local businesses and traders too, it’ll encourage them to keep going.’

Daniel Lorson at the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) said, ‘It’s about making sure that Champagne production succeeds in rising to the major challenge of managing its growth while preserving its uniqueness,’ he told reporters.

Written by Sophie Kevany

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