Replacing vineyard treatments with manual labour does not come cheap, so for an entire appellation to institute a ban on chemical and biological weedkiller, is not easy. However, when the region in question is Pomerol and commands the high prices associated with that name, the move is a little easier. As Jean-Marie Garde, president of the appellation on the right bank of Bordeaux, explained to the French media, the ban, which came into force on October 20th, was a collective decision whose costs, could be borne by a "prestigious AOC, but were more difficult for other wineries".
The move to controlling weeds exclusively by mechanical or physical means is only a first step. Other elements related to climate change adaptation and sustainability will also follow, according to M. Garde.
It will be interesting to see whether other Bordeaux appellations follow suit. Pomerol is small, with only around 800ha of vines, but St Julien and Pauillac with 900 and 1,200 are not much larger, and Margaux, with 1,350 and Pessac Léognan with 1,580 might also be able to do the same, but both – and certainly the latter – have greater diversity of prices and terroir.
The big question, however is how the Grands Crus Classés, and indeed the Grands Crus – of Pomerol’s neighbouring region of St Emilion react to this move. If and when they can shift the focus of their attention from arguing over how to classify their estates.