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27/04/2012

Small ferments next step in mildew-resistant trial

Vintage 2012 will be a year of note for more reasons than quality and size. It is also the year where groundbreaking viticulture research into mildew resistant vines moves from the vineyard into the winery.

The CSIRO has started small-scale ferments from new grapevines, bred through Marker Assisted Breeding (MAB) methods, which are resistant to powdery and downy mildew.

Small-batch winemaking of these grapes is the next step in assessing thousands of vines of all-new varieties that were developed by CSIRO using classing breeding techniques and then screened for mildew-resistant genes.

Grapegrower & Winemaker looked at the research being undertaken at CSIRO in its December issue, which by using MAB has markedly reduced the time and cost involved in developing classically bred new varieties.

MAB allows researchers to screen the seedlings for the presence of the desired genetic profiles relating to disease resistance, berry colour and fruitfulness. Selected seedlings were then transferred into an unsprayed block in the field and, over the past two years, no mildew infection has been observed on these test vines.

Now, wines from the vines are being assessed by a panel of winemakers to identify those that produce the desired flavour and aroma characteristics.

The new varieties may possess many of the favourable sensory and growth characteristics of classical French varieties, but would need to have different varietal names.