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The Life of the Vine

Ciaran Meyler, Wine Manager, United Wines

Probably the best wine book I’ve ever purchased is The World Atlas of Wine. If you are interested in expanding your knowledge of wine, this is the complete book. Now in its eight edition written by the world’s most authoritative wine duo, Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, the early editions were solely the work of Hugh Johnson. The unparalleled clarity and detail of the maps remain core to the Atlas. The first addition in 1971 sold four million copies in 14 languages.

One of my favourite sections is The Vine; I know I’m a wee bit of an anorak.

The first line in this section is awesome:

‘Every drop of wine you drink is rain recovered from the ground by the mechanism of the plant that bears grapes, the vine.’

What a magical plant to put rain to just a good use and all we ever do is complain about it. I’ll bet you never think of that when you’re quaffing down a bottle on a Friday night with your pizza or Chinese.

The life cycle of a vine is similar to that of a human. For the first 3-5 years, the young vine is too busy creating a strong stalk to bear more than a few grapes, so it needs a lot of nurturing. Left to nature the vine will then rampage away, with long branches and very little grapes. However over time it was discovered that better quality grapes grow on a vine that is regularly cut back to a very limited number of buds. Pruning is done in mid-winter. As the vine grows older, its principal roots penetrate deeper into the ground. A young vine shows its immaturity, its wine is always light and insubstantial. From about 12-40 years, a vine is in the prime of life.

Like all plants, the vine has countless enemies, one insect pest is disastrous; the phylloxera which lives on the roots of the vine and kills it. In the years after the 1870s, it almost destroyed the entire European vineyard, until it was discovered that the roots of the native American vine (phylloxera came from America) are immune. Virtually every vine in Europe had to be pulled up and replaced with a European cutting, grafted on to a rooted cutting, from an American vine.

Try some of these amazing new additions to our portfolio and whilst  enjoying a beautiful glass, remember to toast the rain.

Quote of the month

“Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young and makes weariness forget his toil.”

Lord Byron

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