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Allegrini 2018
AFTER PHYLLOXERA

European winemakers supporting ungrafted vines are asking for fewer restrictions & UNESCO recognition

After the phylloxera disease, some are saying no to the American rootstock, while totally assuming the risks, to really reconnect the vine to its land

The phylloxera disease of the vine is caused by a small, but far from insignificant insect that arrived in Europe from the United States, and within a few years, the viticulture of the Old World, seriously risked disappearing. However, just like the threat, salvation also came from overseas. Grafting the European vine onto an American rootstock, in fact, makes the phylloxera insect harmless. This remedy, though, opened up a new phase, because one plant grafted onto another, will obviously not produce the same fruit, even though it is now a consolidated habit, as well as a necessity. Yet, all around Europe there is a large group of winemakers who have decided, some decades ago, some only years ago, to focus on the ungrafted vine, and therefore not graft grapevines. Loïc Pasquet, the creator, in Bordeaux, of the most expensive wine in the world, Liber Pater (30.000 euros per bottle) is one of the leading advocates of the movement. And now, together with colleagues from Germany, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Champagne and Vallée du Rhône, the aim is not only to create an association and to have a common, strong voice in the wine world, but also the recognition of UNESCO, because through their know-how they are capable of reconnecting the vine to the earth, without intermediaries.
“When we plant an ungrafted vine in the soil where it was born, we are saving a heritage”, said Loïc Pasquet, during the meeting of wine producers yesterday in Monte Carlo. In the words of the winemaker, it is a question of “no longer making a varietal soup”, by exchanging European vines for American rootstocks. According to Pasquet, this remedy is responsible, for the industrialization of viticulture and standardizing the taste of wine. It is possible to produce wines that are truly the cultural expression of a place by restoring native ungrafted grapevines. As things stand now, “We would need to have European legislation to define and authorize the cultivation of ungrafted grapevines, so that everyone can decide, or not, to take the risk”, continued Loïc Pasquet, pointing out current prohibitions and restrictions, for example, in Germany and Georgia. However, Georgia, a new legislative framework is being developed, which would make Georgian viticulture leader in the cultivation of grapevines.

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