Old Wine vs. New Wine

Here's an interesting development: distributed wine-making. Advances in the science and technology of wine production have allowed countries with no long-established industry to start producing quality wines. Not surprisingly, places looking to protect the legal structure around their long-established wine industries (I'm looking at you, France) are falling behind because of their reluctance or refusal to adopt the new technologies. French and Spanish wines may continue to be excellent, but their relative position in the wine community is probably permanently on the wane.

Not only are new technologies and methods allowing countries like Australia and Chile to get in on the wine action, but science also has some independent surprises for the old producers:

As is typical in the modern world, advances in science and technology outpace changes in legislation. For example, in Spain the law says that a Reserva wine must be aged for at least 12 months, and a Gran Reserva for at least 18 months. But when Teresa Garde Cerdán, a researcher in chemical sciences at the Public University of Navarre in northern Spain, conducted the first chemical analysis experiments on different types of wines and casks, what she found was unexpected.

The maximum concentrations of aromatic compounds transferred to wine from wood is reached after 10 to 12 months of the wine being stored in wooden casks, Cerdán found. After that, the compounds either remain the same or even begin to decrease.

"Our results have been published in scientific journals, but we don't know if these journals are read in the cellars," said Cerdán. "So we will have to wait a little to see what happens."

Legislation should certainly change as a result of science, said Boulton. Otherwise wine with an inferior aromatic profile will end up having a higher price than better wine.

...but not for long, because when they don't sell well they'll have to change. Maybe no legislation will change and Old European winemakers will fade away. Maybe they'll embrace the technology, allow flexibility in production, and stick around. You'd think by now the lesson would be obvious: the times, they are a-changin'.

Link via Reason Express

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Randall, I think the

I think the European wine industry has bigger problems than this. When you look at the regulation they have to deal with from the EU, the reduction of wine-drinking in their own culture, and the increase in competition from outside Europe, I think they're in some serious trouble. Fixing this regulation would be but a drop in the cask, so to speak.

Brad Warbiany, Yeah, its the

Brad Warbiany,

Yeah, its the decreasing consumption that is the major issue for French vinters (though not all of them are in trouble - many major vinters still do very, very well).

Its also true that many French wineries have adopted the new technology and done so in rather robust ways.

Anyway, I don't expect to see the death of the wine industry in Europe anytime soon. :beatnik: