The dean of Bordeaux’s Faculty of Oenology, Bernard Donèche, died on December 28 at the age of 62.
Donèche (pictured) was due to take official retirement from theworld-renowned wine school in September 2013. He had been dean since 2005, although ill-health had meant he stepped down from his post as director last November.
He was the latest in an illustrious roll-call of previous heads of the faculty, a list which included some of the leading oenologists of the 20th century: Jean-Ribereau-Gayon, Yves Glories and Emile Peynaud.
Donèche was instrumental in the opening of the Institute des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin (ISVV) in 2009, the new site of the faculty of oenology, and a teaching and research centre that took 10 years and €25m to build and is the largest wine centre of its kind in Europe.
Born in Bordeaux in 1950, Donèche studied biochemistry at Bordeaux University, earned a PhD in chemistry and oenology of vineyard soils, and a Doctorate in grape biochemistry.
A leading specialist in grape ripening, and the noble rot that gives the sweet wines of Bordeaux their distinctive character, Donèche had authored and co-authored dozens of winemaking text books, including the Handbook of Enology.
He was rector of the French Union of Oenologists, and a specialist advisor at the OIV (intergovernmental organisation of vines and wine).
A spokesperson at the ISVV told Decanter.com, ‘We are all still shocked at his loss. Bernard Donèche was a great professional and a wonderful man. We will miss him enormously.’
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux