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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 20 April 2009

Incidence of the use of weedkillers in French wine regions

Particularly attractive orange tint in Cheverny vineyard

Comment from Laurent Saillard that deserves greater prominence:

'Palmares of the wine regions using herbicides as the only mean of weed management (in percentage of the whole area)*:

Champagne: 97%
Beaujolais: 96%
Languedoc-Roussillon: 92%
Val de Loire: 91%
Bordelais: 89%
Alsace: 87%
Bourgogne & Provence: 79%

(2006 numbers courtesy of Le Rouge & Le Blanc, Spring 2009)

Also note that the herbicide used in 70% of these cases is Glyphosate, which was until 2000 exclusively produced by Monsanto under the brand ROUNDUP...

Should I remind you that in the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was the leading producer of Agent Orange for US Military operations in Vietnam...'

Blitzed in Cheverny

* Clarification: Although the figures would appear to be correct coming from the French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, they refer to the incidence of the use of weed killers in French vineyards and are not necessary the sole means used to control weeds. For instance the vineyard might to be partly grassed over with weed killer used under the vines.


The latest edition of Le Rouge et Le Blanc has an article on the Cher Valley:

'Plaisirs du Cher

Loire > Touraine > Vallée du Cher

Loire > Touraine > Vallée du Cher : Domaines Vincent Ricard, des Bois Vaudons, Pascal Potaire, Clos Roche Blanche, du Bois Lucas, Élise Brignot, de la Lunotte, des Maisons Brûlées, du Poncer, de Bel Air.'


ned said...

Going by those numbers, organic and biodynamic is apparently a TINY portion of production. Odd considering how much marketing and media attention is given to those practices. If I had to guess, I think I would have said, oh, 20%. Each top region named allegedly has dozens of producers working that way.
Frankly, I don't know what to think.

Igor said...

Well... please Jim, since you manage this blog, you are kind a journalist (I don't know what is your occupation... maybe journalist). So as a "kind of journalist" you have to check the informations you publish. There is a difference between using herbicides and using herbicides as the only mean of weed management. I'm working in Alsace and I'm sure than 85% of the Alsatian vineyard is grass covered, except under the vine stocks. This situation means than 70% of the 85% of Alsatian vineyard is mowed, so not sprayed.

laurent saillard said...

The statistics published in Le Rouge et Le Blanc and rightly mentioned by Jim in his blog, regarding the use of herbicides, come from the French Ministry of Agriculture:
No discussion here.

Now, Igor is right "there is a difference between using herbicides and using herbicides as the only mean of weed management".

Waouh! Choosing the lesser of two evils...
Same difference for me.

Igor said...

Bon, est-ce que vous avez lu mon commentaire ? 85 % des surfaces alsaciennes ne sont désherbées que sous le rang ! Ce n'est pas la même chose que si le désherbage s'effectuait en plein ! La surface sous le rang ne représente que 30% voire moins de la surface totale.
Pour continuer dans ce débat, qu'est-ce qui est le plus polluant ? Un désherbage à dose réduite au bon moment ou bien 3 ou 4 passages en tracteur avec un outil très gourmand en temps et en gasoil ? Le bilan carbone du travail du sol est pire que celui du désherbage.

Entendons nous bien, je ne suis pas un pro désherbage, je cherche également à diminuer la part de ces produits, mais ce n'est pas si simple qu'il n'y paraît. Tout n'est pas tout noir ou tout blanc. Et pour finir, ce n'est pas parce que ces données viennent du ministère de l'agriculture qu'elles sont fiables ! En tout cas, elles manquent de précision.


Mark said...

Ministry of Agriculture statistics for 2006 confirming Igor's point :
In Alsace 85% of vineyard area contains some kind of grass cover - 6% total, 22% between all the rows and 58% on one row out of 2 or 3. Here in the Loire we are a long way behind with 39%. This does present a very different picture from the statistics on use of weedkiller. It's clearly an important and emotive issue where reporting needs to be balanced - taking into account ALL appropriate statistical evidence.

Mark said...

The relevant figures for 2006 are all on page 4 of the "Agreste Primeur" no 221 of February 2009 referenced in my earlier post. For France as a whole 26% of the vineyard area is submitted to a general application of weedkiller. On 63% of the area weedkiller is applied to the row of vines only. On 3% it is applied between the rows and on 7% there is localised use.

Jim's Loire said...

Many thanks for the various comments. Have just got back to London after traveling back from Touraine today and will respond shortly.

laurent saillard said...

To me it is the same thing! Yes in Alsace herbicides are used mainly under the vine stocks.
Great! so you just get half a cancer, a little bit of a brain tumor, different kind of birth defect!
What a future! Herbicides kill. Period.

Now regarding the carbon foot print of mechanical weeding you are right. But:
A) There is always the solution of working with a horse.
B)one cannot fight all the battles. And I find herbicides, pesticides and fungicides way more dangerous for the life in the vineyard and my life than gazoline.

We have a different approach, lets be honest about it and agree to disagree.

Igor said...

:-D OK Laurent, it's very funny... humm.. Well, can you explain me how you can work with a horse on a 10ha vineyard with only one guy on it ??? Are you involved in viticulture ? I mean, no offence, but I'm not sure you have all the elements to have a good judgement. We are not in a fairy tale.
And by the way, could you please show me the study you are relying on which shows an increase of cancer caused by the use of weedkillers ? It does interest me.
Don't trust anybody man. and specially PAN.

Jim's Loire said...

Igor. Thank you for pointing out that the figures referred to the incidence of the use of weedkiller. I have clarified this on the posting.

Worth highlighting again the study quoted by Mark:

as well as the study quoted by Laurent:

Jim's Loire said...

Although I think all of us debating this here would ideally like an end to the use of herbicides, I don't agree with Laurent that using weedkiller on part of the vineyard is as bad as using weedkiller across the total the surface. With the partial use of weedkiller at least part of the local ecosystem is maintained and for some this move to grassing over and using weedkiller under the vines can lead to giving up weedkillers.

The study quoted by Mark does state that glyphosate (round-up) is both an irritant and bad for the environment. It must be questionable whether it is wise to weedkiller under the vines if the some of the theories about the cause of esca prove to be correct.

Igor said...

Hi Jim. According to a recent Swiss study, it appears that the vine stocks are certainly contaminated when they are in nursery.

Jim's Loire said...

Igor. Do you have the details of this Swiss study please? Is the suggestion that there was widespread contamination and what was the source? Thanks. Jim

Igor said...

I'll try to find out. It has been published in a magazine named 'Objectifs' from the university of Changins. I think I still have it at home.

Jim's Loire said...

'Hi Jim. According to a recent Swiss study, it appears that the vine stocks are certainly contaminated when they are in nursery.'

Igor has kindly sent me a copy of this research, which appears to be inconclusive. It was primarily to see if a hot-water treatment was effective against esca.

Aynard said...

dear friends
Esca is a generic word for define 8 mushrooms..... THese mushrooms are living in the vinestock in symbiosis until a hydric stress appear. But Esca exist in all vine stock in Europe. I say ALL. All vigourous vinestock have some esca mushrooms in themself; but dominate them.

Second point, Esca is less disastrous in vineyard which have been planted in "selection massale" ( the opposite of clone) sorry I don't know the english wording....

I think that the clone are dramatic... that seems so logic...

Last remarqs the Weedkiller are very dangerous but if you use them on a third of the soil, a balance life in the soil can start to come back on the two third without weed killer.