Odis Viti Editions

” Organic wine ” at last regulated at the European level

28 November 2012

The Board of the permanent Committee of  Biological Agriculture of the European Commission  put forward a favourable opinion to  the new  regulation for the production of organic wine. These measures were very much expected and were subjected  to bitter discussions ; the new regulation should  be published  shortly  in the Bulletin  of the European Commission.

This should  allow the effective production of organic wine elaborated as from  the 2012 harvest. The producers will have to respect the specifications (with a certification number delivered by a certified Body) and thus affix on the label the European logo  of  biological agriculture as well as the indication of “organic wine”.

Until now the only authorised  indication   is “wine elaborated from biological agriculture” ; this indication will consequently be forbidden  as from the   31st July 2012, at: such date the new regulation  should come into force.

Regulated  information

The discussions which have been lasting now for several years dealt with the whole of the rules of the elaboration  of organic wine from grape to wine  ; as for  the “raw material”, which is the grape,   the matter  had been settled  for long  through the specifications of biological agriculture ; on the contrary the conditions of elaboration and storage of wine were very difficult to settle;

The whole of the measures will be included in the next  regulation  which should be published shortly;  in substance we can indicate that the oenological additives which are authorised will be put down in writing  in a positive list  (what will not be indicated  in this list will be forbidden) ;  and concerning the physical and thermal process there should be on the contrary a negative list (what will be mentioned in such list will be forbidden) ; some techniques will be authorised  with reservation (for instance the thermal process).

The most symbolic change will concern the rates of sulphites which  will be reduced  compared   with  the base wine and the thresholds of which will depend on the rate of  residual sugar.

Sugar < 2 g/l  SO2 max en mg/l

Vin rouge Vin blanc et rosé
Organic Wine 100 150
Vin conventionnel 150 200

Sugar > 2 g/l  SO2 max en mg /l

Red Wine White Wine & Rosé
Organic Wine 120 170
Conventional Wine 150 200

Economical data on the biological career

Organic wine is not part of biological products bought by the consumer.

The first rank  is occupied by fruit and vegetables.

Wine elaborated from  biological agriculture is presently increasing in France : 50000 ha and 3900 producers ; France ranks third behind Spain and Italy ; the most important customers are Germany and the Benelux countries.

The vine  conversions into organic wine are highly giving up : the gain  :amounts to 8% in one year and viticulture represents presently a little less than 10% of the biological market in France  (Turnover 3,4 thousand  million Euro).

The potentiality of development of these products remains very important in viticulture ; the change of denomination of “wine elaborated from biological agriculture” into “organic wine” was very much expected and will contribute to reinforce the  picture and the attractiveness of this career in viticulture.

The viticultural nurseryman

12 December 2011

A job still too much misjudged and nevertheless determining for all the life of the vineyard.

The annual Congress of the French Federation of the viticultural nurserymen was just held on the 19th October 2011 in Aix Les Bains.

It’s the opportunity to draw the attention on a job essential to the wine producing sector: the nurserymen represent in number a small minority of professionals who have difficulties to become known faced with a majority of users of their products ; they wish their job be rediscovered by the wine producing sector.

The invasion of phylloxera and the generalization of grafting have completely changed the running of the vineyard; one generation ago some viticulturists made their grafting themselves in France in regions where the climate is the warmest (for instance in Roussillon the graft on the spot called Cadillac); nowadays this job is entrusted to specialized firms: the nurseries.

This trade tended to concentrate in the course of years, nowadays some 600 professional cards are still left delivered by FranceAgrimer, the official parent organization in charge of the control. Most of the nurserymen are also viticulturists.

On the technical level there are different tasks and each firm can hold concurrently part or the whole.

  • Cultivation of mother vines of rootstock for the elaboration of cuttings which can be grafted (essentially in the South).
  • Cultivation of mother vines of grafts (in the whole of the vineyard in France or even abroad, often operated by a viticulturist under contract with the nurseryman).
  • Production of roots of rootstock (for grafting on the spot rare nowadays).
  • Production of grafted vine plants (two products: pot plants which will be planted directly the very same year of the grafting or root plants which will be planted one year after the grafting after integrating the nursery).

This latter activity is the most important and the most technically elaborated; it’s the one which mobilizes all the know-how and the creative energy of the nurseryman.

On the economic level this trade suffered from the viticultural crisis during the years 2000; it was boosted by the operations of restructuration of the vineyard financed by the European Union and by the needs to comply with the specifications of the AOC.

Since many years this trade wants to make understand to the viticulture its difficulty to anticipate the demand in the different categories of grape varieties and in the pair grape variety/rootstock.

Indeed, grafting is made in year N and the vine planted in year N + 1; one year and a half are necessary to have a vine plant and the success rate in nursery varies according to the years. The trade requests to have a better association with the strategic guidance of the vitivinicole sector so that they can meet the demand of their customers more satisfactorily.

On the level of research and training the trade points out several aspects: the disposal of lands for the setting up of mother vines is a permanent concern; indeed the solution consists in healthy soils free from diseases with virus, that means plots where no vine has been planted for at least 12 years.

The best successful plantations take place precociously as from autumn: nurserymen wish that the plantations be spread over winter to avoid their concentration in spring and sometimes later on with the risks of failure as the season goes on (let’s note that the nurseries often make themselves the plantations for their customers).

The trade requests this job to be taught the young people: it does not exist yet a training module in the schools of agriculture.

With the distribution of its vine plants the trade takes part in the diffusion of the brand ENTAV-INRA (issued from the name of the two French organizations of selection) used on more than the three quarter of the vine plants sold in France and abroad, the royalties are paid half by the nursery and half by the viticulture (8€ for 1000 vine plants).

The treatment of vine plants using warm water against the “flavescence dorée” or even against the diseases of wood is made in close collaboration with the nurserymen.

At last, the trade plans for the future collaborating on the French varietal research and the genetic knowledge of the grape varieties through the project VITI-NEXT which rallies researchers in many subjects.

On the level of regulations and controls the parent organization is FranceAgrimer who is in charge of the external control; more and more nurseries ensure their own control making themselves their labels.

For further information please refer to “Vitisphere” website dated 31st October and 2nd November 2011.

FranceAgrimer website gives in details statistics of the trade (figures of the viticole trade…..vine plants…..statistics data 2010).

The technical explanations are on “Onivins” website (professional site…vine plants).

Viticulture and UNESCO

5 December 2011

Viticulture and UNESCO

In 1999 the vineyard of the jurisdiction of « Saint Emilion » was granted with the prestigious label of property registered on the list of world heritage of UNESCO and this as “exceptional” cultural landscape dedicated to viticulture.

Thus it became the first world wide vineyard to be registered on this list of sites inaugurated in 1972.

It did not take much that it was made use of such idea somewhere else. It was therefore two years later, in 2001, that the Portuguese had the region of viticulture of the “Haut-Douro” which produces Porto wine listed as “a cultural landscape of an exceptional beauty which reflects at the same time its technical, social and economic evolution… (and what’s) impressed is still capitalized with benefit by owners respectful of traditions”.

Then it is in Hungary in 2002, and more precisely in the vineyard of Tokay at the North East of the country, where was honored “the long tradition of the production of viticulture of quality with its complex set of vineyards, farms, villages and small towns and with its historical labyrinth of wine cellars…illustrating all the facets of famous wines the quality and management of which are strictly being controlled since nearly three centuries.

In 2004 Portuguese presented again, and successfully, a very original vineyard, that of Pico Isle in the Azores, the second one considering the size of the archipelago. Although this vineyard has a limited surface, “the presence of viticulture, the origins of which go back to the XV century, is obvious in this extraordinary assembling of small fields, in the manors and houses dating from the beginning of the XIX century as well as in the cellars, churches and ports”.

Here is “the (Swiss) vineyard of Lavaux cultivated in terrace,” the fifth vineyard registered as such, dated 2007. It extends over approximately 30 km in length on the northern side of the Leman Lake in the heart of the canton of Vaud, “the narrow terraces supported by stony walls on strongly tilted slopes” reveal a vineyard “exceptional example of the multi secular interaction between men and their developed environment to optimize the local resources in order to produce a very appreciated wine”.

Five vineyards, moreover late revealed, on a list of about one thousand sites registered by UNESCO:  one could believe in a kind of ostracism towards one of the landscapes and one of the most typical plants of the western civilization!

Except that it is necessary to add at least seven other regions classified by UNESCO where viti-viniculture plays a large part not considered as an exclusive element of the landscape but combined with other criteria of classification!

Those regions are “Porto Venere, Cinque Terre and islands” of the Italian Ligurie (1997), “Vallée de la Loire” in France and Austrian “Wachau” (2000), region of the “Ferto-Neusieddlersee” in Austria and Hungary (2001), “Valley of the German Upper Middle Rhine” (2002), “Vallée de l’Orcia” in hinterland of Siena in Italy (2004) and the “Plaine de Stari Grad” in the Croatian Isle of Hvar (2008).

We shall note with the greatest interest that other vineyards are preparing actively their application file and thus have signed up beforehand on “the indicative lists” of the sites of their countries, compulsory steps of the course!

And so goes in France for the “climates of the Burgundian vineyard of “the Côtes de Beaune et de Nuits” and of the “Coteaux, Maisons et Caves de Champagne” while abroad only Croatia considers the application of the vineyard of Primosten (2007) and South Africa with the “wine-producing region of the Cape” (2009).

It will be finally hardly surprising that Spain, the first country in the world as for its surfaces planted with wines, has not yet considered the matter although it’s also the second country in the world if considering the number of sites registered on the list of UNESCO (43)   all categories mixed, just behind Italy (47) and even before China, France and Germany.

The same remark applies for American countries and those of the southern hemisphere such as United States, Chile, Argentina and Australia whose vineyards are not devoid of attractiveness or fame…

A charter to preserve the soils

GirondeA charter to preserve the soils

Thousands of agricultural hectares disappear in France every year due to urbanizations, roads, railways :: for instance in the department of  Gironde more than 1000 hectares were sacrificed  during the years 2000 to 2007

To avoid the disappearing of the best viticultural soils and their estates as well as the excessive suppression of the lands suitable for cultivation, the Chamber of Agriculture of Gironde linked with the Interprofession and the management institutions started an original step that some other departments could inspire: that means the signing of a Charter named:

Agriculture, Forest and Town planning

For a thrifty and shared management of the rural space

Charter signed on July 8th 2011 between:

State (DDTM), Chamber of Agriculture, General Council, Association of Mayors.

It is mainly the situation on the viticultural level in Gironde which justified this project.

The outer-urban urbanization (the Bordeaux metropolis, the area of the Garonne valley, region of the Bassin d’Arcachon) generates needs in extraction of material,  construction of lines of communication and a pressure related to land ownership which disperse housing in rural areas and therefore wine estates are expected to disappear ; the AOC vineyard located in those areas is the first to be threatened in its continued existence as cultural, architectural and economic  expression speaking of employments.

The threats are of the same order in the forest and large cultural areas.

The charter is an educational and a methodological document to help the local elected representatives and their technicians for a better integration of the agricultural stakes of the territories when elaborating the town planning documents. It’s also an aid for the decision in the delivery of the planning permissions.

The reading of this charter shows straightaway the motivations for such initiative which can be resumed in three preambles:

Considering that the promotion of a sustainable development in Gironde rests on the preservation of the agricultural, viticultural and forest activity which facilitates the protection of employment in rural area, ensure the continuity of landscapes and reinforce the attractiveness of the territories.

Considering the need to find a balance between the urban development and the rural development in order to facilitate the preservation of agricultural and forest spaces and the protection of natural spaces.

Considering the absolute need to encourage a thrifty use of the space imposing to search forms of urban development preventing the disappearance of the rural space caused by housing in the rural areas.

Practically the approach for elaboration of the Land Use plan advocates 3 steps :

  • Initial state of the environment and diagnosis of the territory
  • Project of territory determining the guidelines wished in terms of planning and development : in the document called Project of Planning and Sustainable Development (in French PADD)
  • Translation of the project in the graphic enclosures (zoning) and the written enclosures (rules)

A series of 12 specification sheets are enclosed to the charter among which are noteworthy:

  • Sheet n° 1 : the agricultural diagnosis
  • Sheet n° 2 : the zoning and rule of the project
  • Sheet n° 7 : it establishes an original notion : the Scopes of Protection of the Outer-urban Agricultural and Natural Spaces (in French PPEANP)

The law dealing with the Development of Rural Areas (in French DTR)  dated 23rd February 2005 integrated to the planning laws gives competence to the departments to create scopes of intervention in outer-urban zone to act in front of the land pressure which characterizes those areas: such law points out a real long term overall policy on the outer-urban areas of the department.

  • Sheet n° 9   :  determines the protocol on the constructions in agricultural and forest zone.

Let’s end with the reminder of an ancient and important measure of the planning laws which stipulates that the Land use Plan (in French PLU) of a municipality can only be approved after notice of the Chamber of Agriculture and, if necessary, of the National Institute of Labels of Origin (in French INAO) in the areas of Controlled Label of Origin.

The text of the charter in full is available on the website of the “Direction Départementale des Territoires et de la Mer (DDTM) www.gironde.developpement-durable.gouv.fr

Wines with no Geographical Mention (WWNGM)

13 September 2011

This new category of wines was created by the last  reform  of  COM (Common Organization of wine producing Market). It replaces the old category  of  “Vins de Table”, themselves formerly named “Vins de consommation courante”(in summary VCC).

As was already the case, labeling must mention the name of the country producer member – for instance “Wine from France”. It must be completed by the optional mentions of the name of the grape variety or varieties  and the vintage year under reserve  that the operator (that means  the initiator of the market) subscribed to an agreement procedure and a certification of  the traceability of wines. These controls are under the responsibility of France AgriMer , the mission of which is supervised by the measures of the decree dated  5th November 2010.

The wine grower who sells in bulk is not concerned by these measures.

Rules of  production of  those  wines  :

No upper limit for the yield   : the rules of enrichment, of minimum potential degree and analytic standards are those planned by the community regulation for the area of concerned production.

Those wines should not mention the name of a château, estate or all other similar term.

The sales contract must be registered by France AgriMer. It is advisable to get closer to the regional delegation of this body for all information or  request  for agreement before  the marketing of these wines.

We have just crossed the second campaign of  the  implementation  of  this commercial segment.

The balance sheet at the end of June 2011 shows that 2.8 million hectoliters  were marketed in this category, among which 33% in white wines, 16%  in rosé wines and 51% in red wines.

The sales  of  wines  mentioning  the grape variety represent ¼ of the total and these volumes are the most coveted by the business and in constant progress from a campaign to another.

This category of wines can constitute a variant for the flow of the production of a wine property in order to regulate the market of AOC label (guarantee of quality of wine).

The Interprofession in Bordeaux  decided  the stockage of a part of the production harvested in 2011. Each wine grower could  be  exempted  from this measure  on the condition to declare at most 91%  of his AOC label areas in production . The complementary areas could be dedicated to the production of wines with no geographical mention or wines with protected geographical mention (Local Wines).

Read the article published in the magazine “Union Girondine des Vins de Bordeaux” in August 2011.

For all economic and  regulatory  details , consult the web site of France AgriMer : www.franceagrimer.fr – keyword search  “VSIG”.

The signs of identification of quality and origin : AOC and AOP

“Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée”  (protected designation of origin) is a  French sign of quality  which refers to a product getting its authenticity and specificity from its geographical origin. It must reflect the intimate link between the natural factors of production (soil) and the human factors (conditions of production).

“AOC” originated from a statutory order dated 30th July 1935 which exclusively  concerns  the wine sector. AOC benefits from a protection at the European level in the statutory regulations dated 2009 related to the common organization of the vitivinicole market.

This AOC concept will be spread to the whole agricultural products likely to comply with its criteria of dairy products and  other  foodstuffs / dairy products, meat, fruit, oils, sea products..

“Appellation d Origine Protégée” (protected label of origin) is the transposition at the European level of the AOC concept for dairy / foodstuffs  products (except viticulture).

AOP adopts the same system of origin for the whole countries of European Union : this has been officialized in 2006 in a community regulation.

In a practical way,  the word AOP indicates a sign of quality similar to AOC word and must be used in the countries of the European Union for the designation of any food-processed product excepted those of vitivinicole origin . On the other hand  the word AOC remains the sign of quality officially used in the vitivinicole sector.

Synthesis  from INAO website

For any further details refer to “inao.gouv.fr”…. INAO  “Signs of quality and origin”

“Le Ban des Vendanges”

This notion takes its origin in the remote Antiquity ; various criteria presided  over its binding  in times according to the situation of the celestial bodies in the Ancient Egypt then by the local authorities under the Roman in the Middle Ages.

At the end of the last century, the regulation for “Appellation d’Origine  Contrôlée” wines obliges  to respect a date of grape harvest fixed by an order of the Prefect.  The rural code   ask  INAO to propose to the prefect a date of beginning of  harvest for each area of AOC after the professionals of Labor  Unions for the  defence of AOC  give their opinion.

Today the organization highly specialized in the controls of maturity allowed the abolition of this administrative measure, as far as for each AOC  the conditions of harvest  are determined every year ( minimum potential degree ,maximum degree of mature wine , maximum yields ….) which  make each wine producer responsible for the date of beginning of grape harvests.

The publication of the “ban des vendanges” still remains a tradition for some AOC but it is most often linked to festive and promotional events, such is the case in Saint-Emilion.

The date of harvests varies much according  to the vineyards : the record  of precocity is gained  each year by the beginning  of harvest of Muscat with small grapes  in the vineyard of “Rivesaltes”  approximately  15th August. The first  Sauvignon of the “Graves” vineyard reach their full maturity in the last decade of the month of August.  The precocity  of  harvest  was the current trend during most of the vintages of this new century.

Synthesis from an article published  in the “Journée Vinicole” dated 25/08/2011 no 22930

Website : www.journée-vinicole.com