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French winemakers target Chinese & American tastes


08-08-2014 00:17 BJT

French wine cooperatives have joined forces with leading scientists to 'liberate' flavors prized by consumers in growing wine markets. Since 2009, they have been working on technologies to develop a range of varietal wines that will appeal to the palates of consumers worldwide. And China and the US are particularly important.

It is a few weeks before the harvest, and French winemaker Dominique Malbert is inspecting his vines. But no matter how good the grapes, he knows that commercial success lies in capturing the international market. That is why he joined a co-operative of leading wineries from southwestern France, called Vinovalie.

"The project should give us greater clarity in the long term, to have means of selling and to take a long-term view, because today marketing is so important," Malbert said.

Without a famous name to trade on —  like Bordeaux or Burgundy — the co-operative is targeting the tastebuds of American and Chinese consumers. At the French Institute of Wine's laboratories, it has developed techniques to produce wines that suit different palates.

"We used grapes grown in the Mid-Pyrenees — Fer, Negrette, Malbec, and Loin de L'œil for the white wines — and we tested them according to a winemaking process that increases their aromatic potential," Carole Failhes from the French Institute of Wine said.

One of the methods involves leaving the wine at room temperature, cassis and violet tastes are brought out, which are popular with Chinese wine drinkers.

"Very simply, we get fruity wines, as soon as they have matured, so they taste of fruit, ripe fruit, candied fruit, but always fruity, and we've gradually got rid of the tastes that are less popular with new generations," Vinovalie Co-operative director Jacques Tranier said.

Targeting the growing wine markets in China and America has proven to be a winning strategy. Sales of these wines from Southwest France have soared from two million to six million euros in the last four years.

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