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Bordeaux winemakers getting more of a taste for woodchips

The use of woodchips in wine-making in Bordeaux is on the increase as producers are taking advantage of the fact that the ban on them for AOC wines hasn’t yet been made law.

One supplier of so-called ‘alternative products’, which include woodchips and sticks, has seen an increase of around 200 per cent in sales in Bordeaux between the 2005 and 2006 vintage. Arthur Mauriac of Tonnellerie Vernou told ThirtyFifty, ‘We really have a large requirement for those kinds of products.’ But, he said, winemakers want to be discreet about using them because the EU authorises the practice but the French regulatory body, the INAO, doesn’t want wineries to use them for AOC wines. ‘It’s a little bit complicated,’ he said.

The ambiguity arises because while the INAO agreed to ban the use of woodchips in AOC wines last year, until it is signed into law, winemakers are able to use them under the EU regulation, passed in December 2005. However, in Bordeaux, the CIVB, the association that represents growers and negociants, sees no reason to prohibit their use. Roland Feredj, the Director General of the CIVB, told ThirtyFifty, ‘It’s a matter of principle: in a wine market that is now global, all actors must have the same rights. Wine is a product that must evolve with its time, with all knowledge and techniques available at a given moment. This practice does not reconsider what makes an AOC specific: the typicity.’