Friday, December 28, 2007

The grape genome

Vine times: The pinot noir genome is sequenced. GM wine, anyone? Dec 19th 2007

THE battle between those who think character comes from nature and those who think nurture is the key is not confined to students of humanity. It lies at the heart of winemaking, too. For European growers, the variety of grape is important, of course. No one would mistake cabernet sauvignon for sangiovese or riesling for chardonnay. But grape varieties are normally propagated as cuttings; in other words, clones. What creates a wine's character, they argue, is the terroir—that mysterious combination of soil and microclimate that gives appellations contrôlées their cachet. In other words, the essence of a wine lies in its nurture. (More...)

And associated leader:

Unleash the war on terroir: An oenological wish-list for the drinking season

FOR the beleaguered winemakers of France, threats come in many guises. One French grower complained that each bottle of New World wine that lands in Europe is a “bomb targeted at the heart of our rich European culture”. But few things agitate French winemakers more than other winemakers' unspeakable irreverence towards the terroir, the mix of soil and climate found in the place where a vine is grown. The strength of feeling is so great that the country even has its own breed of, er, terroiristes. A group of masked, militant French winemakers has attacked foreign tankers of wine, bricked up a public building and caused small explosions at supermarkets. (More...)