French working to give wine a fruity makeover

French working to give wine a fruity makeover
Testing times: A researcher checking the oxygen content of a bottle of wine at a French Vine and Wine Institute laboratory in southern France.

GAILLAC, France - A group of wine cooperatives in south-west France has joined forces with leading scientists to "liberate" the flavours most prized by consumers in growing wine markets, from China to the United States.

In a bid to bring out the fruitiness enjoyed by many new wine drinkers, the Vinneo project has been developing the blackcurrant aroma of the Fer Servadou grape variety and the violet aroma of the Negrette variety.

Since 2009 it has been working with scientists on technologies to develop a range of varietal wines - ones made from a single-named type of grape - to appeal to the palates of consumers worldwide.

"We didn't want to make the wine our grandfather would have made. We wanted to make the wine our grandfather would have made if he could," Vinovalie director Jacques Tranier said.

Vinovalie, which is leading the project, is a group of four major wine cooperatives.

They represent the appellations of Gaillac, Fronton and Cahors and are one of the area's largest producers of red and rose wines, along with a small amount of white.

For too long, Mr Tranier said, French winemaking had "overplayed the return to tradition", while at the same time ignoring innovation - to the detriment of the industry.

In particular, he believes French winemakers have neglected the fruity flavours enjoyed by newer wine drinkers in fast-growing markets such as Asia, and which are often found in New World wines.

"We used to think that the whole world revolved around French wine," Mr Tranier said.

"At the beginning of the 2000s that orthodoxy collapsed. We realised all of a sudden that we had competition," he added.

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