Oenologie - Sans soleil, il n'y a pas de vin ! - Les Grappes

Without sun, there's no wine!

It's essential: without sun, there are no grapes and no wine. It is essential for the growth of the fruit, necessary for the good taste of the grape, sought after in the elaboration of the wine and appreciated during the tasting. It brings specific and recognizable aromas. It puts its signature in the wines of the southern regions. Once it has pointed its nose, the vine leaves appear and develop at high speed in the plots, triggering the start of a new wine campaign. As summer approaches and while waiting for the summer heat, let's take a little interest in this sunny man: what does he really bring to the wines?

The good aromas brought by the sun in the wines

The wines of the south are different from the wines of the Loire, Alsace or Burgundy. They are often noted as warm, concentrated and dense wines. The alcoholic degrees are often higher, but not always. They have characteristic jammy and candied fruit aromas. The freshness of the wines is brought by spicy notes. The colours are sustained and very intense. The wines are powerful, full-bodied, very structured and tannic.

Concerning the white wines, they are creamy, fat with ripe fruit aromas. Some profiles present aromas of flowers and garrigue.

Sunshine in the vineyards: a little but not too much

It is known that a rather hot summer announces a vintage of quality. Indeed, the vine needs sunshine from the fruit set - appearance of the berries - to the harvest period, with a peak during the ripening of the berries. It is during this period that the concentration of sugars increases in the berries and acidity decreases.

The concentration of sugar in the berries comes from the photosynthetic activity of the vine directly linked to the sunshine. It is these sugars that are then transformed into alcohol. Wines from sunny regions, rich in sugars, often have high degrees of alcohol. These higher alcohol levels result in "hot" wines that are often described as warm.

However, if there is too much sun, the grapes are certainly very rich in sugar but also low in acidity. But acidity supports the wine and gives it shape. This sugar/acidity balance is very important for the quality of the wine and the sun has a direct influence on it.

Varieties that love the sun

Some grape varieties are specific to southern regions. Grenache, Carignan, Muscat, among others like the terroirs of sunny regions. But this is not the only factor. The whole terroir has to be taken into account: the hygrometry, the soils, the wind. The specific aromas of these grape varieties are often associated with the aromas of the sun. Black cherry, blackberry, thyme and rose are words full of solar connotations.

An unsunny year in the Languedoc and a very sunny year around the Loire smoothes the effects of the sun, but the characteristics of each of the wines will continue to be felt.

Ageing of the wines in the sun

The vine is not the only one to love the sun. In the southern regions, some wines develop a particular profile thanks to oxidative ageing. The wines are placed in glass bottles and left in the sun for a certain period of time. Light and heat increase the oxidation of the wines. They turn brown to mahogany, brick and brown reflections. The aromas evolve towards very specific smells: orange peel, walnut, sweet spices (cinnamon, vanilla), liquorice, honey, mocha, roasted almond, prune, dried fruit.

Our advice: Enjoy these wines that herald summer during your first moments on the terrace. They will accompany aperitifs based on Mediterranean tapas. The strong tasting dishes such as duck, game, cheese and spicy dishes go perfectly with southern wines. And to finish, they are the perfect accompaniment to chocolate desserts.

Manon (Les Grappes)

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