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12.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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BAD NEWS IN BEAUJOLAIS

There’s a wine shakeup going on in France: Over 4O Beaujolais communes have lost the right to label their wine as Burgundy. This follows a decision taken in September by the INAO, the wine appellations governing body, after a three-year process in which the geographic zones governing Burgundy and Beaujolais appellations have been redrawn. Although Beaujolais producers have had the right label their wines Burgundy since 1937, it has long been a source of dispute between the two regions.

In keeping with the new zones, 43 communes have lost the right to call their white wines AOC Bourgogne Blanc but will instead have to label whites AOC Beaujolais Blanc, the most basic appellation used by only around 2% of wines. AOC Bourgogne Aligote still exists as an appellation, and two new appellations have been created: AOC Coteaux Bourguignon and AOC Bourgogne Gamay. Renowned villages like Fleurie and Morgon have not been affected. However, 42 communes have retained the right to label their wines AOC Bourgogne Blanc. At the same time, nine Beaujolais Crus will retain the right to use the label AOC Bourgogne, with restrictions. The exception is Regnié as it only became a Cru in 1988. If the wine contains anything over 3O% of the Gamay grape, the label must be AOC Bourgogne Gamay. Another change comes with the creation of the new AOC Coteaux Bourguignon, which will replace the existing AOC Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire over the next five years. This appellation will be open to both Burgundy and Beaujolais producers. Communes affected by the changes include Saint Lager, an AOC Beaujolais north of Lyon. Chardonnay is planted there but has lost the right to use the appellation Bourgogne Blanc and so will become AOC Beaujolais Blanc. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Beaujolais producers. Jean Bougarde, director of Inter-Beaujolais, said they welcomed the change – adding that Burgundy should not worry so much about Beaujolais. All changes apply from the 2O11 vintage.

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