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New Quality Control Procedure in Bordeaux in Place

A new quality control system has been introduced this month for testing Bordeaux wines which will be now tested by an independent group and the entire chain from vineyard to bottle will be  tested, including random sampling of wines before going into the bottle.

In the two wine competitions held in India in the recent time, the first India Wine Challenge and another by the Business Today group, the one question that has been paramount in the minds of most people concerned with the authenticity and validation of the results has been whether the wines in the bottles being submitted are the same as in the general production.

It appears that the French system of testing Bordeaux wines had not been spared this scepticism either. 'Before there was always a risk that the samples presented were not necessarily what was in the bottle,' says a producer from St. Emilion.

With the new system that has been put in place since July 1, wines are now tested by an independent group, rather than by INAO- Institut National de l'Origine', the producers' association. A commission of 5 professionals under the guidance and supervision of the independent testing organisation, Quali Bordeaux appointed last June will test the wines.

The process would include testing wines from vineyard to the bottling stage unlike the old system when the testing was limited to the bottle samples submitted by the producers and to their own association. A lot of scope of influencing the result existed as can be seen from the rejections which were marginal.

The other problem was that the tastings in the earlier system took place long before bottling, and there was no guarantee of the wine quality after bottling. Huge volumes of AC wine were shipped around in bulk by negociants for blending, at a current market price of a euro a liter. Besides, these 'approved' wines could sit in a tank for ages. According to a bottler, 10% of these wines were undrinkable at the time of bottling.

According to Decanter, the move has been welcomed by producers although it has yet to prove itself. 'The idea is good, but it will only be validated if it succeeds in sorting bad wines from good,' said Jean-Christophe Mau of Chateau Brown in the Medoc. 'We know with the old system only one or two per cent of wines were ever rejected.'

It takes more time to inspect now, but the producers feel the credibility of their wines will improve. But the new AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) system will have to prove that it is capable of replacing the previous system despite its flaws.

The new rules are applicable for the production and distribution of wines of the Appellation of Bordeaux Supérieur and AC Bordeaux.  If successful, the other appellations are expected to institute these reforms which have been under preparation for the last couple of years.

There is no such appellation or any procedures being followed for testing wines in India at the present time. It is pretty much left to the discretion of the producer to bottle the quality at will.

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