Bordeaux prepares for hybrid grapes

France could be forced to cancel its ban on vinification from hybrid varieties and Bordeaux is already studying their use.

© Wine Australia
| After authorizing non-regional varieties, Bordeaux could then plant hybrid vines.

There’s just no stopping the drama in Bordeaux, is there?

Not content with increasing the hackles by allowing warmer climate varietals in the appellation, there is now talk of allowing hybrids in the blend. How awful for purists, but it’s a very real possibility.

Elsewhere, there’s sparkling wine news in Piedmont, trouble for small Chianti producers and a long-running case in a French wine court dragging on even longer. Continue reading…

Burgundy grape eyes hybrid

Following the Bordeaux region’s high-profile acceptance of six out-of-region varietals (the warm-climate hardy reds: Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan and Touriga Nacional; and the whites: Alvarinho and Liliorila) recently, reports from the region indicate that locals are now ready to adopt disease-resistant hybrid varieties as well.

This eventual decision – which should be voted on early next month – falls as the European Union prepares to reset its common agricultural policy (the CAP). According to French wine news site Vitisphere, the new CAP – which is due to come into force next year – will allow hybrid grape varieties for wine production in member states.

Although France has a complex relationship with hybrids (it banned the production of wine from hybrid varieties in the 1950s for false health concerns despite many successful hybrids originating in the country), their resistance to disease is cited as a major factor in their revival.

“It must be said that after the trying 2021 vintage (with strong mildew pressure), the prospect of only treating [against cryptogamic attacks] two to three times a year can only be appealing,” said industry commentator Alexandre Abellan.

There is no news yet on which potential varieties the region will adopt, but it is likely that they will fall under legislation allowing experimental hybrid varieties to be planted on more than 5% of vineyard land. These “experimental” plantations cannot represent more than 10% of any resulting wine.

A meeting of Bordeaux’s so-called Management and Defense Organization (ODG) – which could change current viticulture and winemaking legislation in favor of hybrid varieties – is scheduled for March 4.

Ceretto launches a new sparkling wine project

Roberta Ceretto, one of four Ceretto siblings behind the well-regarded eponymous Barolo estate, has launched a new sparkling wine project in Piedmont’s Alta Langa with her husband, interior designer Giuseppe Blengini . Called Monsignore (from the Cascina Monsignore estate in Vicoforte, which also produces Dolcetto-based Dogliani), the first releases cover the 2017 and 2018 vintages.

According to Italian wine news site, current production is around 8,000 bottles with the goal of increasing to 50,000 bottles per vintage. Alta Langa Metodo Classico wines are produced from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Ceretto said she and her husband had been considering an heirloom project “for years” and the two opted for wine. The project is private and does not involve the Ceretto brand itself.

“In 2014 we started trying different clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,” she said, “and in 2017 we had our first harvest. My family includes Nebbiolo for Barolo and Barbaresco, but to do quality in Alta Langa we asked the locals for advice. winemaker Giuseppe Caviola.”

More land is being purchased for the project, which is expected to grow from its 10 hectares (25 acres) of vineyard land – more than a quarter of which is devoted to Alta Langha production.

Languedoc court decision remains on the fence

The Narbonne High Court ruled that the Languedoc wine merchants‘ union (the CIVL) was justified in having its representatives of direct marketing removed from the regional council of wine merchants. It’s a complex affair, perhaps best summed up in previous roundups in September (point four) and December (point two) last year.

According to wine news site, the local court effectively sat on the fence. He said the CIVL was justified in its approach while acknowledging that direct marketing organizations (often – but not entirely – large companies in the region with a significant national and/or international advertising budget) have an important and unique role. within the CIVL.

Unusually, the decision appears to have appeased both parties, although few comments have been issued by the CIVL.

“It’s a big step forward,” Alexandre They, head of the regional direct marketing group, told “The court recognizes our legitimacy. This reinforces our thinking: we have our place within the professional body.”

French wine exports to the United States rebound

Exports of French wines to the United States rebounded 50% in 2021, surpassing 2019 figures, according to the country’s foreign trade ministry. French wine journal La Revue du Vin de France said the rebound followed lower tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and a general increase in sales following the earlier impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the ministry, exports jumped 19% in value and 33% in volume in 2021.

“The [wine] sector is taking a breather after two years of pandemic and the suspension in March 2021 of the 25% surcharge on certain European wines imposed in October 2019 by the Trump administration,” the RVF said. The tariffs, she said, were part of a long-running dispute between the United States and Europe over state aid to the aviation sector.

Chianti boss sounds the alarm

Unlike France, however, the head of the Chianti Wine Consortium, Marco Alessandro Bani, issued a different note, despite reports that exports of regional Chianti wines also increased by 17% in 2021 (compared to 2019). Bani told regional newspaper Siena Free that despite the general good news, small wineries were still “in big trouble”.

“In the wine sector there are very different situations,” he said. “Some companies are in difficulty because they are not credited by banks. In terms of growth, we must highlight a greater need for financing necessary to pay for the increase in inventories. This growth rests entirely on the shoulders of companies and is not supported by the banking system.

“The world of wine is very big,” he added, “and it doesn’t just contain big companies. There are also small ones that need help.”

Wine truck overturns in western France

“The smell of wine still hangs over the trailer of the damaged truck,” began the report by regional media Ouest France after a truck driver lost control of his vehicle on Tuesday evening. The truck hit a low wall and overturned on a departmental road in Vendée, western France, injuring the driver and losing its cargo of around 600 liters of bottled wine.

Emergency services reportedly remained in the area for around six hours to contain the wine which had spilled into a roadside ditch. A specialist clean-up crew was called in to remove the wine from the waterway.

No news on exactly how the truck driver came through a roadside wall and overturned the truck.

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