Antioxidants make first appearance on wine labels

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  • Thursday 10 March 2005

Oregon winery Willamette Valley Vineyards has been given the green light by the US government to mention the presence of an antioxidant, resveratrol, on the labels of two of their wines.

The 2003 label now states, ‘Pinot noir develops a natural defense against botrytis (mould) in our cool, damp climate – the antioxidant resveratrol’.

Jim Bernau, president of WVV, told decanter.com, ‘This is a big break for the wine industry. We were expecting a reversal of the decision, but despite the publicity, the approval still stands.’

Both wines are pinot noirs, and contain an especially high level of resveratrol due to the cold but humid climate of Oregon, which encourages the grape to produce more of the antioxidant compound.

One of the labels explains where resveratrol comes from, and identifies it as an antioxidant. The winery stops short of specifically mentioning the health benefits associated with the compound.

Dr LeRoy Creasy, a researcher at Cornell University in New York, has recorded that wines containing more than 10 micromolar of resveratrol are ‘extraordinary’. WVV’s 2004 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir was found to contain 71 micromolars, the highest tested.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring substance in grapes which has been found to reduce the chances of heart disease and cancer, and is considered a key component of the so-called French Paradox. This refers to the phenomenon whereby the French, whose diet is high in fat, have a low rate of heart disease.

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