One of modern winemaking's most influential figures, Pascal Ribereau-Gayon, has died in Bordeaux at the age of 80.
Ribereau-Gayon (right) being presented with the Amorim Academy’s Grand Prix in 2002, by Joaquim Amorim and Robert Tinlot (image: Amorim)
Pascal Ribéreau-Gayon came from a family of oenologists. His great grandfather Ulysse Ribéreau-Gayon worked as Louis Pasteur’s assistant in the 1880s, while his father, Jean Ribéreau-Gayon, created the Bordeaux Institute of Oenology in 1949 alongside Emile Peynaud, seen as the godfather of modern oenology.
Ribéreau-Gayon himself is credited with pioneering research into phenolics and anthocyanins in grapes, and into the structural and qualitative differences between hybrid and vitis vinifera vines.
He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1995.
Professor Denis Dubourdieu, who was a student of Ribéreau-Gayon and later a colleague alongside him at Bordeaux university, told Decanter.com he had ‘enormous respect and friendship’ for his former mentor.
‘He was a serious, highly academic scientist, but combined that with an ability to put theory into practice through his consulting work, developing ground-breaking techniques that allowed cellar workers control and understanding over the process of fermentation. Even today, that ability to combine pure science and its practical application is rare, and extremely valuable.’
Besides his active involvement in the Bordeaux Faculty of Oenology, Ribéreau-Gayon was also a prolific writer, the author of several treatises on oenology.
Until recently, he was consultant for several properties, including Domaine de Chevalier and Château Smith Haut-Lafitte.
Ribéreau-Gayon’s funeral was held at Notre-Dame church on Thursday May 19. He is survived by his wife, four children, and 12 grandchildren.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux