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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, October 19 2009. 11:00

French Producers Miffed at TV Programme

The French wine industry is quite upset at the national TV channel France 2 describing the use of non indigenous yeasts and the addition of sugar as unnatural and airing misleading reports  on pesticides in wine by insinuating that even traces may lead to illness.

'Wine, is it still a natural product?' was the title of the TV programme  viewed by millions in France earlier this month on the national channel in which Ghislain de Montgolfier of Champagne Bollinger had reportedly admitted there are traces of pesticides in wine, but clarifying  that they would be harmful only if consumed in massive amounts. He had quipped,’ I would not advise you to drink more than 150 bottles of Champagne per day.'

He later explained to Decanter that the pesticide levels in wine must be within limits for wine and the grapes  as established by the World Health Organisation and that the programme was totally misleading.

'This was a programme made by non-professionals to scare non-professionals,' Diane Flamand, oenologist with Chateau Lafite Rothschild said and added, ‘What shocked me is that they did not address lutte raisonée. The excessive pesticide use was a problem 15 years ago, but not today.'

La lutte raisonée means 'the reasoned struggle'. Growers who practice this kind of viticulture claim to use chemicals less often and less aggressively than conventional growers and it is considered close to organic farming. This is a way to claim semi-organic status without having to commit to anything.

Jean-Louis Salies, President of CNIV- the Comité National des Interprofessions des Vins “Appellation d'Origine, expressed profound anger at the report. In a letter to the channel he reportedly wrote, 'Pesticide use has dramatically dropped in the last ten years. Any residual pesticide in the glass is subject to maximum limits.'

Dr. Ariff Jamal, a Burgundy based consultant who also doubles up as a writer and educator and till recently was the CEO of Grover Vineyards, is quite disappointed with the presentation. ‘Criticism is always good for further development, but it has to be rational, constructive and scientific fact-based. The paranoid journalists on France 2 had sought to scare the viewers, in their explanation of the ‘new’ dangers to humanity. They failed in their explanation, but created an unwarranted amalgam,’ he says.

Defending all wine producers immaterial of their style, he said, ‘wines produced should generate enjoyment for consumers, and the professionals who develop these wines should be consistent, sincere, respectful of the vine and its environment, and the spirit of laws (like AOC) should be followed and adhered to in the making of the wine.’

Clarifying the winemakers’ point of view to delWine, Jamal says, ‘chemicals have and will always be used in winemaking, in France or any other part of the world. But we know that like any other consumption, usage in moderation is always the best policy,’ summarising, ‘the future of the French Wine Industry is too important and sensitive to leave in the hands of journalists alone.’

 According to an earlier story reported by delWine last week, Bordeaux has been successful in reducing the level of pesticides used in the vineyards without any effect on the quality of the fruit. French president Nicolas Sarkozy had exhorted the Bordeaux wine producers during the national consultations in environment issues in October 2007 to reduce pesticide use by 50 percent. They were to do this within the framework of ten years but they have reportedly exceeded it after just two harvests.

In his letter, Salies also slammed the public doubt created by the programme, which misinformed the public by defining the added yeasts as 'added chemicals' and wrongly blurred the line between chaptalisation (authorised addition of limited quantities of sugar to aid fermentation) and surchaptalisation (unauthorised and illegal addition which does, however take place occasionally- 42 Beaujolais producers were being tried in court this year for adding illegal amounts of sugar from 2004-06)

Dr. Ariff Jamal Says:

Dear Subhash, I found this article an excellent piece of work for which I would like to congratulate you ,Best Regards. Dr. Ariff Jamal

Posted @ October 21, 2009 11:18


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