Will a centuries old tradition in winemaking disappear?

The use of sulphur to be banned?

Sulphur pellets to clean barrels

Sulphur pellets to clean barrels, copyright BKWine Photography

To disinfect oak barrels by burning sulphur inside is a century old tradition.  Now the procedure could become illegal. According to the EU rules sulphur tablets is classified as biocides, which means that they must have obtained an authorization to be allowed on the market. And to get this authorization you must submit an application for evaluation.

Such an evaluation can cost you between 200 000 and 500 000 euro. Quite a lot of money for an inexpensive product. And none of the manufacturers want to pay.

The EU has already postponed the decision concerning sulphur tablets several times. The current deadline is June this year. If no application has been submitted by then, the procedure risk being banned. According to www.lavigne-mag.fr the French Union for oenologists (l’Union des œnologues de France) has now asked its members to contribute money. Different coopers will also help with money and it is hoped that FranceAgriMer (a governmental agency for agriculture) will contribute with 50 000 euro.

All EU countries are concerned, so perhaps it should not be impossible to raise the money needed? If the producers really believe that burning sulphur is indispensable.

Cleaning barrels with sulphur and a candle

Cleaning barrels with sulphur and a candle, copyright BKWine Photography

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