The scheme that was going to give the beleaguered French wine industry the chance to compete on a level playing field with the New World has been seriously stalled after objections to the French government. And many now believe it will be vetoed altogether.

Under the scheme, provisionally titled Vins de Cépage de France, producers would have had the opportunity to produce varietal wine by blending grapes from across the country. At present, such a practice can only be used for the lowly Vins de Table, but the new wines would have carried a classification similar to Vin de Pays. This would have allowed them to carry both the vintage and the grape varietal on the label - factors on which the New World has built its success.

The proposal was put together by the Cap 2000 committee group, made up of six figures from across the trade, from negotiants to co-operative heads to distributors, all of whom thought that the Vins de Cépage offered the simplest way of France regaining market share from the likes of Australia.

But the blueprint has been with the French Ministry of Agriculture for over a year, during which time the growers' groups in the Languedoc have made their opposition plain.

There is a worry in the South that the new proposal could pose a significant threat to the profitable Vin de Pays d'Oc category - and that some of the region's better wines might end up in huge blends, damaging the South's improving reputation.

And with the south accounting for the biggest production of wine anywhere in the country, it seems that the government has bowed to grower pressure and spiked the scheme as it stands.