Close to the Mediterranean at Gruissan, in the Aude department, the INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) is working on new grape varieties and technologies to address the challenges of the future, reports La Revue du Vin de France (RVF). On a property of 47 hectares [116 acres] on the Massif de la Clappe, there are plots dedicated to experimental grape varieties intended to resist diseases and the effects of climate change.
The hope is to develop varieties requiring fewer chemical treatments. RVF points out that grapes rank second after apples in France in terms of chemical applications. For example, a cross has been developed of Muscadinia, an American vine, and European Vitis that is resistant to mildew and oidium. In addition, practices such as minimal pruning, common in Australia for more than thirty years, lead to self-regulation by the vine: less foliage but more grapes.
Moreover, ripening is slowed, and sugar production is reduced, an effective counter to rising temperatures. In terms of new techniques in the cellar, the article cites flash détente, or rapid heating and bursting of the grapes before transfer to vat. This technology, found as well in Argentina and Chile, rapidly liberates color and polyphenols, an advantage for high-volume wineries. Another innovation is membrane electrodialysis, which enables control of the acidity and alcohol as well as tartrate stabilization without chemical additives. Eurodia, the industrial partner of the INRA, currently exports this technology to 25 countries.