Producers of Sauternes, France's world-famous sweet wine fear that the proposed high-speed train line that will run through the Ciron valley could affect the fragile micro-climate on which the wine depends, making it sour.
The wines owe their sweetness to a morning mist generated by the cool waters of the local River Ciron, around 13 degrees C (55 degrees F), which encourages a special type of mould known as 'noble rot' or botrytis cinerea that attacks the grapes before they are fermented. This results in grapes that are violet and shriveled at harvest, rather than golden and ripe. Due to the noble rot, Sauternes wines has high levels of residual sugar, which, when combined with the grapes' natural acidity, acts as a preservative agent which allows them to age for centuries without becoming undrinkable.
AdvertisementXavier Planty, head of the local Chateau Guiraud producer, warned, "If the waters of the Ciron are warmed up, the mist will not form as easily. We can't take the risk that everything will be messed up."
The RFF (French Rail Network), which is running the proposed Bordeaux to Dax TGV (the French acronym for high-speed train) project, that is planned to become operational in 2027, said that it had done 'impact studies'.
Activists including local elected officials, environmental activists, foresters, hunters and wine growers have called for an inquiry into the proposed line and have threatened to take their case to the European Court of Justice.