First tasting of ‘lost grapes’ in southwest France

  • Friday 10 September 2010

The first tastings of several rare grape varieties are taking place this week at the Grape Conservatory in Saint Mont, southwest France.

The first tastings of several rare grape varieties are taking place this week at the Grape Conservatory in Saint Mont, southwest France.

Historians and ampelography experts are gathering to discover the results of mico-vinifications carried out on the 2008 and 2009 harvests.

The conservatory has been researching and reviving lost grape varieties which have played an important role in the history of winemaking in southwest France.

Through the research they hope to increase biodiversity, and to help researchers around the world identify the origins of many international varieties.

Some of these grape varieties are as yet unnamed, but have continued to grow in tiny quantities in traditional vineyard areas around Saint-Mont and Madiran.

They have been catalogued and gathered over 30 years by grape historian Jean-Paul Houbart. There are now over 120 variants.

Around 20 varieties are due to be tasted this weekend. ‘Around 10 have been identified for the very first time, and are named simply after the plot where they were found. Others we can trace historically, such as Ahumat and Morenoa, but which we believed had died out,’ the Conservatory’s technical director Olivier Bourdet-Pees told Decanter.com.

‘We intend to keep certain varieties for historical purposes, but others have real potential to be cloned and used in the vineyards.’


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