Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Better Wining Through Chemistry

Raise a glass to oenology in France:

The French winemaker's mantra has always been "grow good grapes and the wine will make itself," but for all save the most prestigious estates letting nature take its course is no longer good enough.

.... While often loath to admit it, many French producers are now crafting their wares to suit consumer tastes rather than expecting consumers to adapt to the product.

....There is no better measure of this profound change than the growing influence and importance of wine chemists — also called oenologists — in Bordeaux, France's premier wine producing region.

"In 10 years, oenologists have evolved from vine doctor to winemaker," said the president of association representing Bordeaux's wine chemists, Nicolas Guichard.

.... "The tilting point was economic — all production is for naught as soon as it is disconnected from the market," said Jean-Philippe Gervais, head of the vine-and-wine services department of the Gironde region's Chamber of Agriculture. "The oenologist today has a better understanding of marketing, and the imperatives of supply and demand."

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