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Beaujolais sticks to Burgundy to ride out the storm

Par Vitisphere Le 13 août 2008
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Beaujolais sticks to Burgundy to ride out the storm

istorically, Beaujolais is a part of the Great Burgundy, hence produces wines that are eligible to the Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire appellation, provided that they are made of burgundian grapes. With Beaujolais sales heading down, producers are ripping out gamay to plant their vineyards with pinot noir and chardonnay. Among the 20 500 hectars of Beaujolais vineyards, 180 already produce Burgundy wines (130 ha are for chardonnay and 50 for pinot noir) ; the rate may seem minimal today, but the trend is real and conversions are likely to increase if prices and sales continue to drop.

Olivier Bosse-Platière bought the Château de Lachassagne in Beaujolais in 2006 and ripped 13,5 out of the 21 hectars of his vineyards in order to plant the burgundian grapes : "We had to get out of the Beaujolais appelation ; there is still a market for Beaujolais primeurs, but there isn't any for regular Beaujolais."

Producers are willing to change the appellation Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, which doesn't sound very flattering in French. Beaujolais producers want to switch to the name "coteaux de Bourgogne", while Burgundy producers deny the right of Beaujolais wines to use the term "Bourgogne" and plead for the name " coteaux bourguignons".

In the meantime, the most famous Burgundy wine merchants are investing in Beaujolais : one hectar of vineyard is worth two to ten times less there than in Burgundy. Earlier this year, Beaune wine merchant Louis Latour bought the Beaujolais wine merchant Henry Fessy in Brouilly ; later on, Bouchard et Fils bought the Château Fleurie-Poncié, in Fleurie. 

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