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 "Why French Winemakers Are Responsible for..." 
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Post "Why French Winemakers Are Responsible for..."
Why French Winemakers Are Responsible for the Spanish Wines of Rioja
by: Thomas Ajava

The world of wine is often discussed as though there are hard lines of demarcation in the wine producing regions. This is not even remotely the case as is seen by the fact that French winemakers developed much of the wine producing vineyards in the Rioja region of Spain.

A gathering of wine drinkers is often a place to hear some of the more humorously spouted verbal garbage ever. There is always that one person who pronounces wines from Bordeaux are superior to North American wines or some such thing. This is, of course, do to the superior grapes used in the “fill in the blank” region. Such statements are the sign of a person who knows little of what they are talking about. Why? The history of wine gives us the answer.

Wine was obviously the drink of choice after water in Europe for a very long time. In the 1800s, the various explorers of North America brought vines with them. Most failed to grow given the different climate and indigenous pests. That was okay because North America had a unique form of vine that could take the climate and pests on. This vine was known as labrusca.

Import-export is a concept that usually is a good thing, but not always. With vines, it was a bad thing. The labrusca vine was imported into Europe. With it came the pests. One particular form was brutal – phylloxera. How so? The European vines had no defense against it. By the mid-1860s, all major vineyards in Europe had been destroyed by phylloxera.

Wine was big business in Europe. Phylloxera was not only a wine disaster – it was an economic one. Lots of money and effort was thrown at the problem. No method for defeating phylloxera was found. So, what did the Europeans do? They cross bread the European vintages with labrusca. The wines produce today from Europe are part classic European vintage and part North American. While every vine has distinct merits, the French grape is better than North American grape argument is moot because the French grape is partially North American!

So, what does any of this have to do with French winemakers and Spain? During the death of the vineyards in Europe, the vintage winemakers spread out across the region to far flung vineyards. Remember, there were no cars or planes then. The Rioja region of Spain was once such area. It was remote enough that phylloxera was not a problem. The French set to work and the wine from the region has been excellent every since then.

About The Author
Thomas Ajava is with - makers of journals for wine enthusiasts.

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[Note: Due to a size limitation, the title, above, had to be abbreviated. Apologies to the author and - Admin]
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Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:15 pm
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