How can historical cultivars mitigate the effects of climate change?

IFV, INRAe and the national network “Partenaires de la Sélection Vigne” representing 37 organizations from the different wine regions, have been working increasingly closely over the last 2 decades towards the preservation of the French varietal patrimony. There are approximately 600 patrimonial varieties according to INRAe and SupAgro Montpellier experts, including ancient cultivars (400) and intravarietal crossbreeds obtained since the 19th century. In the context of a drastic reduction in such varieties from the mid 1980’s in favor of mainstream varieties, it was essential to carry out an inventory of old vines and vineyards. INRAe Vassal collection plays a key role here as it holds the largest diversity available, along with a rich bibliography and herbariums, offering us the opportunity to document and double check the identity of a cultivar, consolidating the expertise of ampelographers. The work is carried out in several stages, from verifying the existence of a variety in a small region, through to rehabilitation. During this session, the authors present the process that leads to the official registration of a variety. After this, IFV selection center takes over to initiate the process of selection and propagation. A specific focus within regions such as the Alps, Champagne and the South-West will provide details of the full procedure. Bia, Bouysselet, Chardonnay rose, Mecle and the aptly named Tardif, are some of the cultivars that have followed this procedure. Furthermore, a recent regulation established by INAO on “varieties of interest for adaptation purposes” might boost uptake by growers. Since 2006, 36 historical cultivars have been registered. Most of these have been neglected in the past due to late maturity, lack of sugar and high titratable acidity at harvest time. Such characteristics are today considered as positive qualities, not only in mitigation of the effects of climate change, but also as an opportunity for restoring diversity…

Authors: Taran Limousin1, Olivier Yobrégat1, Laurent Audeguin1, Cécile Marchal2, Géraldine Uriel3

1Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin, Le Grau du Roi, France 
2INRAE, CRB Vassal, Marseillan, France
3Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, Partenaires de la Sélection Vigne, Epernay, France


Keywords: indigenous grapevine cultivars, French patrimony, collections, repositories, catalogue, INRAe, IFV, INAO, ampelography

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