Savoy all-set to trial 7 heirloom vine varieties for appellation wines

Wednesday February 24 2021 by Vitisphere

 A first group of winegrowers have said they want to trial the heirloom varieties. A first group of winegrowers have said they want to trial the heirloom varieties. - Photo credit : CIVS

On February 11, the National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) rubber-stamped an application for seven varieties designed for adaptation purposes to be included in production specifications for Savoy wines. “INAO is providing us with an opportunity to test new grape varieties (for 10 years and up to a maximum 5% of acreage and 10% of blends for participating estates). We jumped at the opportunity”, explained Alexis Martinod, director of the regional Savoy producers’ organisation.

The trial focuses on heirloom grape varieties (Bia blanc, Corbeau/Douce noire, Dousset, Hibou noir, Mondeuse grise, Petite Sainte-Marie and Pinot gris), and illustrates a desire by the Savoy wine region to showcase its plant heritage and experiment in a bid to combat climate change. “As a winegrowers' organisation, it is vital that we anticipate possible changes to specifications by introducing new grape varieties, as the process is extremely time-consuming”, added Martinod.

There are multiple reasons why these heirloom grape varieties fell into oblivion, ranging from the phylloxera crisis to producers opting for varieties that are richer in sugar and ripen earlier. With the ongoing and future climate change, late-ripening grape varieties have become more useful, provided they don’t have any particular defects. “From a heritage perspective, safeguarding Savoy grape varieties – that are of technical interest for climate change – is meaningful”, summed up ampelographer Taran Limousin from the French Wine Institute. He also pointed out that the vineyards of Savoy are already home to a wide choice of grape varieties, with 22 cultivars listed in the region’s production specifications.

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