"It's a great honor for me," Porcheret, 62, said in the French press. "Especially after that sad period when they wanted to bring me down for the 'acid-sugar' affair. Fortunately the European Commission has come into the modern age."
In the past, Burgundian winemakers were forbidden to add both sugar (a process called chaptalization) and acid to the same batch of wine during or prior to fermentation. However, some vintners performed the two procedures secretly to avoid the wrath of lawmakers. Last year, after much debate, the French government authorized the practice.
Chaptalization adds sugar to increase the alcohol content; it's often done because the grapes aren't ripe enough. Acidification stabilizes a wine by adding tartaric acid when grapes lack natural acidity.
Porcheret had long considered it hypocritical for Burgundians to outlaw a process that was not harmful and, he argued, improved the wine. After the 1997 harvest, he announced that he had both chaptalized and acidified the Hospices de Beaune wines. With the issue in the public eye, local winemakers and government authorities were forced to address the subject. In 1998, the law was changed to allow Burgundians to add sugar and acid to the same batch of wine, though they cannot do both operations at the same time.
Porcheret announced recently that he would be stepping down from his position at the Hospices de Beaune to devote his energies to Domaine Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret, his own Meursault estate. He has also been hired as a consultant by Beringer Wine Estates in Napa Valley to assist that winery group in its efforts with Pinot Noir.
For more on Porcheret and the acid-sugar issue:
They Won, We Lost
Burgundy Comes to California
The Sweet With the Sour: Burgundy winemakers own up to doctoring their wines with both sugar and acid
Burgundy Prices Rise Sharply at Bellwether Auction Despite Battle Over Winemaking Techniques
Burgundian Winemaker Tries Square Wine Barrel
Hospices Auction Bounces Back With Porcheret's Wines