Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Pulling the cork on recent wine stories

Environmental benefits of drinking and driving

Next year’s 24 hours of Le Mans race will feature cars fuelled by wine dregs. The oil company TotalEnergies is developing a renewable fuel suitable for motorsport. Among the fuel’s constituents are wine residues including lees and grape pomace. The biofuel is expected to have at least 65% lower carbon emissions than the traditional type. The residues are blended with an ethanol by-product to make the engine more fuel efficient and consequently less damaging to the environment.

Research repeats red rewards

It’s a recurring topic, and is countered by as many scare stories about the damaging impact of drinking too much, but the latest research comes down in favour of moderate consumption, suggesting that three glasses of red wine a week can help lower blood pressure. The work, conducted at Queen’s University, Belfast and Kiel University in Germany, shows that a higher intake of foods with high levels of flavonoids – including berries, apples, tea and red wine can have a favourable impact. The key is moderation.

Another trio joins the masters

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) has announced three new members, taking to 419 the number of people around the world who enjoy Master of Wine status. The trio includes Linlithgow-based Claire Blackler, who lives on a narrowboat on the Union Canal. She is joined in the latest intake by New Zealander, Michael Henley, and Siobhan Turner, a Canadian living in London. The qualification involves a three-part test, concluding with a research paper – Claire investigated video wine tastings. Around half of the world’s Masters of wine are based in the UK, followed by the US, Australia and France.

Azerbaijan touting for tourism

Azerbaijan is working hard to become a destination for wine tourism. The country, which has borders with Iran and Russia, has a centuries-old winemaking industry and boasts 15 wineries. It is now looking to create a wine route that will start in the Russian region of Krasnodar – best known for sparkling wine – and pass through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

A cool way to deal with fire

Purfresh, a California-based company that works with the wine industry, has created a tool to treat grapes affected by wildfires, and remove smoke taint. The process uses a temperature-controlled container to decontaminate grapes over a 24-hour period before they go for crushing. The process has been used by several vineyards and the evidence suggests that wines treated in this way were fresher and fruitier, as well as having a less smoky flavour than those exposed to fires but left untreated.

Frosts hit French harvest

The French agriculture ministry is forecasting that the upcoming grape harvest could be the smallest for around 50 years. Figures show a possible fall of up to 30% on last year’s levels. The projected numbers vary according to grape variety and region and are based on anticipated quantity rather than quality. However, the news is being interpreted as evidence of the impact of severe frosts that hit many areas of France earlier this year. Chardonnay and Merlot were among the hardest-hit varieties, with Champagne losing around 30% of first buds, while Alsace was relatively unscathed.

A charitable tipple

South African winemaker Schalk Burger senior has produced a wine that supports the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation set up to support the charity set up to hep research into Motor Neurone Disease and named after ex-Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir, who is a sufferer. Burger, who played six times for South Africa in the 1980s, runs the Welbedacht Estate, just outside Cape Town. Like Weir, he wore the number 5 shirt. He has created a wine featuring a blend of five grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot – and is donating £5 from the sale of each bottle to the fund. The label features the distinctive tartan created for the charity and representing the colours of the clubs Weir played for during his career.