Do ungrafted vines change the taste of wine?

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Jane Anson reports from a tasting led by pioneering winemakers from around the world, exploring how grafted and ungrafted vines affect the character of wine and revisiting received wisdom about the spread of phylloxera.

Image: Grape vines in basket shape, Santorini, Credit: Sylvia Wu
Image: Grape vines in basket shape, Santorini, Credit: Sylvia Wu

Vines on the Greek island of Santorini, one of the few areas where vineyards have remained free of phylloxera. Credit: Pawel Kazmierczak / Alamy

The list of winemakers in the room was already pretty special, comprising;

• François Chidaine, Loire Chenin Blanc specialist

• Louis-Benjamin Dagueneau, Loire Sauvignon Blanc specialist

• Maxime Graillot, Northern Rhône Syrah specialist

• Jacky Rigaux, Burgundy

• Francesco Marone Cinzano of Erasmo, Chile

alongside owners, winemakers and viticulturalists from estates as varied as:

• Tenuta della Terre Nere; Etna, Italy

• Tenuta San Francesco; Amalfi Coast, Italy

• Domaine Philippe Charlopin; Gevrey Chambertin, France

• Weinguït JJ Prüm; Mosel, Germany

• Artemis Karamolegos; Santorini, Greece

• Adega Viuva Gomes; Colares, Portugal

• Bodega Juan Matias Torres; La Palma, Canaries

• La Tour Melas, Achinos; Greece

• Champagne Chartogne-Taillet; Champagne, France

Each estate had brought a few precious bottles of invariably low-yield, low-production wines to Bordeaux for two days of comparing the impact of grafted against ungrafted vines.

The tasting, the inaugural ‘Rencontre des Francs’ was organised by Loïc Pasquet of Liber Pater, a winemaker who has done a pretty good job of drawing attention to ungrafted vines by charging €30,000 a bottle for the privilege of tasting them.

Things kicked off with French writer and researcher Jacky Rigaux recalling Henri Jayer’s tastings through the 1980s and 1990s that led to the Réveils des Terroirs movement.

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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