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Allegrini 2018

QUALITY IS THE DISTINCTIVE SIGN OF FRENCH WINES. TRADITION AND SUSTAINABILITY PROMOTING BURGUNDY AND BORDEAUX FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION OF SAINT-ÉMILION TO THE RECOGNITION OF THE BOURGOGNE CÔTE D'OR AND VÉZELAY DENOMINATIONS

The distinctive sign of French wines in the world is quality. Whether it is jointly adhering to a mandatory sustainable certification protocol, like the Saint-Émilion vineyards did, as Wine Spectator (www.winespectator.com) reported, or following the recognition path of a new denomination, like Vézelay and Côte D'or in Burgundy, as the Drinks Business reported (www.thedrinksbusiness.com), this is the road that our French cousins are taking to promote their wines, with one eye on the local wine-growing tradition and one on safeguarding the health of the people and the environment. Not to forget that the Burgundy vignerons fully respect their UNESCO World Heritage status, of which the St.-Émilion landscape was awarded in 1999.
In the Pinot Noir district of excellence, starting from the year 2019, producers who want to bottle their wines with the various St.-Emilion appellations (St.-Émilion, St.-Émilion Grand Cru, Lussac St.-Émilion and Puisseguin St.-Émilion) must have endorsed an environmental sustainability certification selected from those approved by the Board of Appellations; otherwise, they will have to label their wines "generic" Bordeaux.
The vote on the project took place in an unfortunate period, in May 2016, shortly after the frost that had devastated several vineyards. “It would have been easy for us to step back, but we said, "No, let's go ahead"”, said Franck Binard, director of the Conseil des Vins de Saint-Émilion. 25% of vintners who voted against the project are concerned with risks and costs, but technical support has been provided to assist the transition.
We wanted to be able to choose among different certifications: “We did not want a dictatorship. We accept all doctrines”, explained Philippe Bardet, owner of Château Pontet-Fumet and environmental activist, “provided they are officially certified”.
Two years ago when the project started, they took a survey and found that 45% of companies had already adhered to some form of certification for reasons related to environment, safety or quality. Therefore, the time was ripe. The decision has a significant impact since it is compulsory (definitively when authorities change the statute of the appellation) and covers nearly 3.85 million cases of wine and 973 wineries, sparking interest in other wine denominations as well, such as Castillon, which in Bordeaux has the highest percentage of hectares of vines in organic conversion.
The quality of a wine is linked to its terroir and health, so the first step is to define its existence through an official recognition. The Institut National des Appellations d'Origine has recently formally approved two new DOC in Burgundy: recognition Village for Vézeley and regional denomination for Burgundy Côte d'Or. Promotion to Village for Vézeley means a return to its glorious past in the wine-growing area. It had been devastated by phylloxera at the end of the nineteenth century, like most European vineyards, and it took 100 years to at least get the generic "regional" appellation.
Now, after a slow path to the recognition of quality, the extreme north of Burgundy is closer to the other areas of Dijon and Beaune, such as Côte d'Or, which has finally become DOC, on the same level as Côte Chalonnaise, Passe-tout-grains, Tonnerre, Côteaux Bourguignons, Crémant de Bourgogne and the Hautes Côtes de Beaune and Nuits.

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