New Train Line Might Harm Quality of French Wine

March 5, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. diminish /dɪˈmɪn ɪʃ/ (v.) – to be reduced or lessened
Example: The alcohol’s effect diminished after a few hours.

2. vineyard /ˈvɪn yərd/ (n.) – an area of land where grapes are grown
Example: Our vineyard produces high quality grapes.

3. world-famous /ˈwɜrldˈfeɪ məs/ (adj.) – known throughout the world
ExampleWorld-famous wines are usually expensive.

4. formation /fɔrˈmeɪ ʃən/ (n.) – the process in which something develops or builds up
Example: The formation of fungi on the fruit made it sweeter.

5. appeal /əˈpil/ (v.) – to ask for a review of a case or a court decision
Example: Several groups appealed to revise the decision on the case.


Read the text below.
The quality of the wine Sauternes [soh-TURN], a popular French white wine, might soon diminish because of a train line project.

Wine makers worry about how the government’s on-going plan to build a high-speed line will affect their crop outputs. The train line—linking Bordeaux [bawr-DOH] with Dax [dahks]—will run through the Ciron valley, an area near the Sauternes vineyards. Wine producers fear that the train line would cause climate change in the area, which could affect the natural process that the wines undergo.

Sauternes wines’ world-famous sweetness is credited to a fungus known as the “noble rot.” It is brought by the morning mist from the Ciron river. As the mist flows across the Sauternes plains, the noble rot forms around the grapes. This formation causes grapes to wrinkle and have an increased sugar level.  The grapes’ acidity combined with the increased sugar levels preserves the wines, making them last for over 100 years.

While the train line will not directly destroy the vineyards, wine makers think that the line might change Ciron river’s temperature. The heat brought by the train line could cause the river to warm up. The higher temperature will cause difficulties for the mist’s formation, and ultimately, the wine production.

In response, the French Rail Network clarified that the plan has already undergone impact studies to ensure that the line’s operation is safe. The train line is scheduled to be built in 2027. However, local officials, wine makers, and activists plan to appeal to the European Court of Justice to dismiss the project.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, should the government dismiss its train line project? Why or why not?
·         How will Sauternes’ popularity be affected if its taste changes?

Discussion B

·         Do you think it is important for the public to know the effects of infrastructure projects to the environment? Why or why not?
·         What, for you, is more important: safety of the environment or infrastructure development? Please discuss your answer.

March 5, 2015