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Study Raises Concerns Over Pesticide Residues in French Wines

September 27, 2013

A new study on pesticide residue in wine has caused a furor in France by raising questions about leading labels, including Bordeaux’s Mouton Cadet and seven wines from large French producer Castel, Wine Spectator reports. Commissioned by French consumer magazine Que Choisir and conducted by the Excell enology lab, the study analyzed 92 wines from around France for 165 chemicals related to vineyard treatments.

At first glance, the results are worrisome. Thirty-three chemicals found in fungicides, insecticides and herbicides showed up in wines, and every wine showed some detectable trace of chemicals. Organic wines fared better, but still showed some, suggesting contamination from neighboring vineyards or that the chemicals are lingering from past use. The wines analyzed ranged from a $2 generic red to a $20 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with many sold by supermarkets.

But Pascal Chatonnet, owner of Excell lab, a Right Bank winemaker and a passionate advocate for reducing pesticide use, said the results should reassure rather than alarm consumers. “Except for a few cases, we should be satisfied. The level of pesticide residue is very slight. And even those few ‘higher’ cases are well within the legal norms.” While almost every wine had detectable trace amounts of chemicals, very few had measurable amounts, that is, more than 10 micrograms per kilogram of wine.

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