french grape varieties

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A small project on french grape varieties


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties


History of grapes

Grapes are one of the earliest cultivated fruits, and probably around the Black SeaRegion. It is estimated that grapes were cultivated in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) as far back as 6,000 B.C. their cultivation spread to Phoenicia and Egypt and by 2,000 B.C .all over the Mediterranean region.

Grapes were cultivated 6,0000 years ago in Europe. there are over 60 varieties of grapes that are cultivated for wine making and over 50 varieties are in current production as table grapes. Over 200 years ago, Franciscan monks brought grapes to California for the purpose of making sacramental wine. As the population grew, more grape varieties were introduction.40 years later, the vineyard for tables grapes was planted

The whole point of growing grapes in those early days was making wine. the Greeks had Dionysus, who later was renamed Bacchus by the Romans, a god dedicated full time to matters of grapes and wine.

Cultivation of the vine began several thousand years before Christ and is mentioned many times in the Old Testament. The ancient Egyptians made wine; the early Greeks exported it on a considerable scale. During the Roman Empire vine cultivation was extended to such a degree that a surplus ensued, and in AD 92 the emperor Domitian decreed that half the vines outside Italy be


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties uprooted. When replanting was later permitted, vineyards extended into northern France and Germany and even into southern England. The middle Ages, AD c.400-1200, saw little progress in viticulture. From about 1200, monasteries kept alive the art of wine making. Later the nobility also owned extensive vineyards. The French Revolution and the secularization of the German vineyards by Napoleon, however, removed many vineyards from ecclesiastical hands. From the beginning of the 13th century, the wines of Bordeaux (an area under the English crown from 1152 to 1435) were commonly shipped to England, the Hanseatic ports, and the Low Countries. By the 14th century wines from Spain and Portugal were also widely exported. Drinking habits were largely governed by changing fashions at court, political relations with producing countries, and changing rates of excise duty. During the 18th century heavy duties on French wines and an English alliance with Portugal led to a sharp rise in English consumption of Portuguese wines. For convenience in commerce, the Bordeaux merchants classified their finest red wines as early as 1725, but it was not until 1855 that such a classification, based on the market price for each wine, received official recognition. The wines of the Mdoc district were divided into five classes, or crus. The 1855 classification stands today with only one recent significant change. During the middle and second half of the 19th century the European vineyards suffered from a series of disastrous diseases and pests, particularly mildew, or Oidium, and the plant louse, Phylloxera. First discovered in 1863, Phylloxera spread across Europe, destroying the vines by attacking their roots. Not until about 1880 was the grafting of European vine species onto immune American rootstock accepted as the only viable solution. Selective replanting also led to improved grapes. Simultaneously, a movement began to ensure the authenticity of wine, culminating (1936) in France when the appellation controle (quality control) law, now the model for similar legislation in other countries, came into effect. The law allows only wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region, for example, to be called champagne.


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties


The vineThe vine belongs to the Ampelidaceae family, as does the Virginia creeper and other


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties climbing berry-bearing growths (but not common ivy). It is only the genus Vitis(vine) that interests the wine-maker. There are five families of wine-producing vines: Vitis vinifera, Vitis riparia, Vitis ruspestris, Vitis labrusca and Vitis berlandieri. Of those, Vitis vinifera (wine-bearing vine) produces all the noble grapes associated with European vineyards but are now used throughout the world, with just a few exceptions. These are in the east coast of America and Canada where other species are cultivated because they are more suited to the terrain and climatic conditions.

Composition of the vineThe vine consists of: Roots These are for anchorage and for absorbing nutrients and moisture from the earth. The root system is large and can reach to a depth of about 12 m (13 yds) Leaves Chlorophyll is the green matter in the leaves and is necessary for photosynthesis. When sunlight falls on them, carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere through the leaves into the plant where it combines with water, absorbed through the roots, to make sugar. The sap which is circulating in the vine takes the sugar and stores it within the grape. Leaves also shade the grapes in very hot climate. Flowers Vine flowers are very small, They self-pollinate from May to June in the northern hemisphere and from November to December in the southern hemisphere. Flowering lasts about ten days when, hopefully, the weather remains warm and dry. Frost is the great enemy- if it arrives during the flowering, unprotected vines will not bear grapes. Frosts can be combated by smoke and heat devices and by spraying the vines with water. Grapes The grapes from after pollination. At first they are small, hard and green, but as they ripen, they swell out and change color in August and September. They should be fully ripe 100 days after flowering. A ton of grapes produces 675 liters (148 gallons), equivalent to 960 bottles of wine.

Composition of the grape 4

Specialization Project French Grape Varieties

Stalk When the stalk is used it imparts tannic acid to wine. It is mostly used in the making of big, flavorsome red wine and is not used when making white and light wines. Tannin is a necessary ingredient as it acts as a preservative and antioxidant. If over-used, it makes the wine astringent as nasty. It is recognized on the palate by its tongue-furring properties. Skin The outer skin or cuticle has a whitish downy or cloudy coat known as bloom. This waxy substance contains wild yeasts and wine yeasts, millions of minute enzymes which contribute to the fermentation process. It also contains other micro organisms such as bacteria, principally the acetobacter which is a potential danger to wine. If uncontrolled, it can turn wine into vinegar. The inside of the skin imparts color which is extracted during fermentation. PIPS Crushed pips impart tannic acid, oils and water. If left uncrushed, they do not contribute to vinification. PULP The flesh of the grape provides the juice, also known as must, which is essential for fermentation. The must contains 1. 78%-80% water; 2. 10%-25% sugar; 3. 5%-6% acids.


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties

As we can see, water makes up the bulk. Sugar is formed in the grape by sunlight and is of two kinds: grape sugar(dextrose and glucose) and fruit juice (laevulose and fructose). They are found in about equal quantities. Tartaric, malic, tannic and citric acids in the must help to preserve wine and to keep it fresh, brilliant and give balance. Esters are formed when the acids come in contact with alcohol and it is these that give wine its aroma or bouquet. The must (unfermented grape juice) will also have trace elements of nitrogenous compounds such as albumen, peptones, amides, ammonium salts and nitrates, as well as potassium, phosphoric acid and calcium, all of which have influence on the eventual taste of the wine.

Annual cycle of work in the vineyards in the northern hemisphereJanuary The year starts with pruning the vines and general maintenance to walls, posts and wire used for vine training. February Pruning, to regulate quality, continues and cuttings are taken for grafting. Machinery is cleaned, oiled and put in good working order. March Pruning is completed and ploughing begins to aerate the soil. This allows roots to breathe and facilitates free drainage of water to the roots. Bench grafting takes place. That means American root stock and Vitis vinifera scions are joined together in a nursery rather than a vineyard. April Ploughing is completed, weeding continues and year-old cuttings are planted out. May Vines are treated with copper sulphate against mildew Vine suckers are removed June The vines flower and treatment spraying continues July Weeding and spraying continues. Overlong green shoots are pinched back.


Specialization Project French Grape Varieties August weeding as before and trimming of the vines to allow maximum sunshine to the grape bunches. Wine-making apparatus is prepared. Grapes swell and begin to change color. September Grapes continue to swell and color deepens. White grapes change to yellowgreen. Black grapes change from yellow-green to violet or deep purple. Sunshine is badly needed now to finish the ripening. Refract meters are taken into the vineyards to gauge the sugar level within the grapes. That, and the acidity level, will decide when the harvest can begin. Traditionally the grape should be perfectly ripe and ready 100 days after flowering. Bands of pickers will be contracted and the vintage usually starts about the third week in September, depending on location. October The cellar master finishes making the wine. Fermentation can take from six days weeks depending on the style of wine. Vineyard are deep ploughed and fertilized with chemicals to compensate for any deficiencies. November More fertilizing. Long shoots are cut off and the base of the vines are chilled up with soil for protection against


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