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Totally Chateau? French Fight California Use Of Bordeaux Wine Designation



French winemakers from the Bordeaux region are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of Californian wines soon being allowed to put the sacred word Château on their labels.

The French agriculture minister is scheduled to travel to Brussels to veto a new proposal by the European Commission, to be decided upon later this month, that would permit American wine producers to use the term Château.

According to the Federation of Bordeaux Wines (FGVB), the term is associated with a wine made from grapes that are entirely grown in a specific plot of land (a terroir) in order to give the wine a unique flavor and identity. They say the term has, over time, become a symbol of quality that is specifically associated with the Bordeaux region.

However, Brussels would allow the term to designate Californian wines produced from a blend of grapes from different growers.

Laurent Gapenne, president of an organization that guarantees wine labels’ origins and quality, told Le Parisien newspaper: "It is unthinkable that the European Commission, which is supposed to defend our interests, approves of this measure [...] In the United States, it's different. They use the term château to create a brand name like Coca-Cola or Nike."

Le Monde writes that if Californian wine producers obtain the right to label their wines as châteaux, then the commercial potential could be astronomical in countries such as China, which is the world's biggest market for Bordeaux wine.

In 2009, the European Union banned the importation of Californian wines that used the terms clos and château on wine labels, following strict regulations, reports the New York Times.

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