French 'radioactive' wine gets new name

A French wine that shared its name with a nearby problem-plagued nuclear power plant on Wednesday won the right to change its designation.

The Tricastin wines of southern France will now be known as the Grignan-Les Adhemar, according to a ruling from the powerful INAO agency tasked with regulating French agricultural products.

The decision capped a two-year campaign by wine producers to change the wine's official designation after a series of minor accidents at the Tricastin nuclear plant made headlines in 2008.

"I am relieved and very satisfied," commented the president of the Coteaux du Tricastin wine producers Henri Bour.

"The wine producers needed to get rid of this image that unfairly stuck to them. The ball and chain has been removed," he said.

"We can now turn over a new leaf."

Bour hopes that the new name will be displayed on bottles selling the 2010 harvest of grapes for the newly-named reds, whites and roses.

The decision reached by the 50 experts of the INAO agency will not come into effect immediately as there is a two-month period during which any opponent of the ruling can come forward.

If no valid objections are made, the agriculture minister will issue a formal decree on the change of the wine's designation known as AOC (Appellation d'origine controlee).

The new designation is named after the village of Grignan in the Rhone-Alpes region where the 17th-century writer and aristocrat, the Marquise de Sevigne, died.

An INAO official said the decision stemmed from "exceptional" circumstances and that such changes to the strict AOC designations were rare.

The Tricastin appellation was decided in 1973 but a few years later, electricity giant EDF opened the Tricastin nuclear power plant that became a household name following a uranium leak July 2008.

Despite several soil and water tests that confirmed there was no radiation poisoning in the vineyards from the 2008 accident, the Tricastin wines never managed to recover.

Production has dropped 40 percent over the past two years with many owners opting to uproot their unproductive vineyards, according to Bour.