Vinovalie, a group of four major wine cooperatives representing Gaillac, Fronton and Cahors in southwest France specializing in red wines and a few Rosés, has joined forces with scientists to develop the flavours most prized by consumers in growing wine markets overseas. Since 2009 Project Vinneo has been developing the blackcurrant aroma of Fer Servadou and the violet aroma of Negrette, the two grape varieties of the region.
Vinovalie director Jacques Tranier reportedly says that French winemaking has overplayed the return to tradition and ignored innovation for too long to the detriment of the industry. French winemakers have neglected the fruity New World wine flavours enjoyed by newer wine drinkers in fast-growing markets like Asia, he feels. "We used to think that the whole world revolved around French wine," Tranier said, adding, "at the beginning of the 2000s that orthodoxy collapsed. We realized all of a sudden that we had competition."
The project is being run in partnership with the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse (INP) and the L'Institut Francais de la Vigne et du Vin-French Vine and Wine Institute (IFV). It has borne fruit with Vinovalie exports tripling over the last five years from €2 million to €6. The growth is much more than the 3.23% reported globally by IWSR during the same period, thanks in part to Asia and particularly China, the leading drinkers of red wine.
Christophe Haunold of the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse (INP) reportedly says, “It is important to preserve the character of the Vinovalie grapes - Malbec, Fer Servadou, Loin de l'oeil (white grape spelt in different ways and also known as Cavalier) and Negrette, while ensuring both quality and quantity. That required a lot of science and technology. We sought to identify complex molecules, precursors of particular flavours which appear and disappear depending on maturity to refine the optimal harvest time.”
INP used sophisticated chromatography, a lab technique that involves separating mixtures to map the chemical identity of the different grapes and understand how the molecules that develop taste and aroma evolve during the vinification process.
Researchers also looked at the effect of heating grapes for different lengths of time and temperatures using a technique called Flash Detente. The process involves heating the grapes to about 82˚ C before placing them in a huge vacuum chamber, where they are cooled. The cells of the grape skins burst from the inside, making it easier to extract the tannins, a key element in developing the character of a wine.
Such processes need to be carried out precisely. For instance, the prized blackcurrant aroma can turn to green pepper if not properly treated. They are also likely to be criticized by some traditionalists. But Haunold defends himself by saying, "Everyone has understood that beer is very technological; wine is too.”
Vinovalie has so far concentrated on two international brands Astrolabe and Terreo, according to the AFP report published by Yahoo. Another research project is also planned for 2015.
Any Indian importer listening?!
Tags: Terroir, Vinovalie, Project Vinneo, Flash Detente.