It's Frankenwine: purists sound supergrape warning
Scientists claim new varieties don't need cancer-causing pesticides, but others insist it's just not natural
French wine scientists have come up with four revolutionary supergrape varieties they say are impervious to rot and therefore require almost no pesticides. But purists have warned that the lab-grown creations, which mix grape genes from around the world, could lead to dumbed-down, low-grade “Frankenstein wine”.
At first glance, the red white grapes growing at the National Institute of Agronomical Research (Inra) in Colmar, eastern France, look like just any other. Yet these are a very different. The aim is to be “durably resistant” to fungal attack by winemakers’ two sworn enemies: downy mildew and powdery mildew.
In recent months, Inra scientists received state authorisation to grow four varieties of resistant grape called Araban, Floreal, Voltis and Vidoc, which will lead to wine bottled by 2020.Didier Merdinoglu, the “father” of the Inra programme, insisted that the grapes enabled winemakers to cut the use of pesticides by 80% to 90%. France is under intense pressure to reduce pesticides, following a string of cancer cases among vintners and a recent scandal in which pupils at a school near a vineyard were sprayed with chemicals, leading to several falling ill.
Thomas Dormegnies, wine maker, researcher and taster from Vendée, western France, said the crossover of varieties from other continents would lead to “artificial and unnatural ‘Frankenstein wine’.
“This is like crossing a monkey with a man: it may be technically possible but it goes against nature,” he said.
– © The Sunday Telegraph