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French winegrowers state sulphite content on their labels

By Vitisphere September 08, 2021
French winegrowers state sulphite content on their labels
“From now on, why not specify the amount of copper used per hectare?” reflects Didier Berthollier (right). - crédit photo : Domaine la Combe des Grand’Vignes

ould this be a first? “Personally, I never seen anyone else do it”, claims Savoy winegrower Didier Berthollier. For the past two years, Domaine la Combe des Grand'Vignes (12 hectares in Chignin, currently converting to organic) has been displaying sulphite concentrations measured at each bottling on the back labels of the dozen wines it produces. The concentrations are compared to the regulatory limits for organic, biodynamic and Association des Vins Naturels wines (see photos below).

The situation really lacks precision. The narrative on natural wines lacks clarity. So we decided to state things clearly, with reference points, to give our consumers all the information they need”, explains Berthollier. By vinting wines with no added sulphites through to bottling, “we produce wines with very low levels of sulphites. We don't necessarily want an endorsement, but we do want to promote our efforts on sulphites. So why not state clearly what we put in our wines?”

Each analysis is conducted by a laboratory before bottling then the results are displayed on an extra label on each back label. Berthollier agrees that most consumers are probably not aware of this quest for precision and transparency: “But it can reassure them to see that we have gone to the trouble of specifying what we have done with reference points. It is a response to certain expectations. Wine merchants and sommeliers are glad to have precise information so that they can check what they are being told”.

I hope that this information will be applied to all wines”, concurs sommelier Fabrizio Bucella, a lecturer at Inter Wine & Dine in Brussels, who feels “it is wrong to believe that consumers are not able to take in this information. The winery or winemaker already knows the details, so why keep them under wraps?”

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