BIODIVERSITY: THE MISSING LINK
THE OVERALL CONCEPT OF TERROIR
THE IMPACT OF BOTANICAL BIODIVERSITY ON THE AROMATIC IDENTITY OF WINES
Extract from the Manifesto of the same name, published on April 4, 2022, signed by the Chartier World LAB Barcelona team.
With the release of this manifesto, which is in fact the first phase (of five) of molecular harmonies analysis adapted to the study of the impact of botanical biodiversity on the aromatic identity of wines, for the first time in the history of wine, the founder of the aromatic science of molecular harmonies, François Chartier, author of the book Papilles et Molécules, supported by his partner, the sommelier Isabelle Moren, and by the scientific and multidisciplinary team of the Chartier World LAB Barcelona, including Nicolas Roché, unveils the missing link in the global concept of wine terroir – as well as gastronomic terroir. This comprehensive study is the first to scientifically demonstrate the aromatic impact of botanical biodiversity on the aromatic identity of wines, as well as on food.
The primary goal is to define “sense of place” by complementing the overall concept of “terroir” in the world of wine and to create new tools, via knowledge of the impacts of biodiversity, to enable the latter, as well as wine growers, to adapt to the ecological transition triggered by the climate changes we are currently experiencing. The sense of place in the world of wine also applies to the world of gastronomy, which is also influenced by the landscape of a unique local biodiversity.
What does this mean in more specific terms?
Let us take the tailor-made example of the garrigue du Midi. In wine, the term “garrigue” is used to evoke camphorated, herbaceous, peppery and resinous aromas, or even smokiness, evoking the low vegetation (maquis) that grows wild on the sun-scorched soils of the shores of the Mediterranean, particularly in the south of France, but also around the Mediterranean basin (Spain, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, etc.), as well as in other wine-growing regions of the world where the climate is Mediterranean.
The wines of Roussillon, Languedoc, Southern Rhône and Provence are commonly dominated by the aromas of this southern biodiversity with notes of garrigue (thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory, wild thyme, lavender). From Fitou to Bandol, via Pic Saint-Loup and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the penetrating smell of the maquis (scrubland) is most often the aromatic identity of these crus.
This is also the case in many other European wine-growing areas, such as Priorat, Montsant and the proposed Sabater vineyard (la Vinya d’en Sabater) in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia.
Is this due to chance? No. It is in fact a classic aerocontamination phenomenon in the world of wines, as is the case when wines are aged in oak barrels, for example, and many other cases of aerocontamination described in the first phase of the documented study which is the subject of this first book.
This phenomenon demonstrates very well that vines, via the grapes and leaves, and even the stems, store the aromatic molecules contained, among others, in the air (as is the case here with the odorous molecules of the essential oils of the various herbs and plants of the garrigue), to release them in the must (grape juice), then in the wine after fermentation.
When a sommelier tells you that “to taste a wine is like drinking its landscape”, this is exactly what he is referring to: the expression of a complex ecosystem, linking together the vine, the soil, the climate and ancestral human practices, as well as the biodiversity of a place, which includes all forms of animal, plant and bacterial life (including the micro-organisms that live in the soil and on the vine)
The garrigue, which is rich in unique biodiversity, is therefore the ideal environment to demonstrate the undeniable impact that biodiversity has on the aromas of wines, which we called at the Chartier World LAB Barcelona “the missing link in the overall concept of terroir”. This is the notion that the aromas and flavors of wine are directly influenced by the ecosystem in which the vines are grown and the wine is made.
DETAILS OF THE ANALYSIS PHASES OF THE IMPACT OF BOTANICAL BIODIVERSITY ON THE AROMATIC IDENTITY OF WINES
phase 1: conceptualisation
This phase focuses on the detailed proof, by the multidisciplinary and scientific team of the Chartier World LAB Barcelona, with the collaboration of the chair “Universitat de Barcelona – Gastronomía y Aromas – Chartier World LAB Barcelona”, of the impact of botanical biodiversity on the aromatic identity of wines, by detailing and summarizing several examples and existing studies, and by providing a first overview of the biodiversity of Santa Coloma de Gramenet (province of Barcelona), more specifically of the Vinya d’en Sabater vineyard project, the experimental vineyard of the Campus de l’Alimentació of the University of Barcelona.
This manifesto, whose work began in 2019, demonstrates indisputably that the analysis of the impact of botanical biodiversity on the aromatic identity of wines is necessary in order to better understand the place of biodiversity in the identity of wines, and therefore in the “sense of place” of the latter.
Publication of the manifesto: April 4, 2022, Barcelona.
phase 2: research and analysis
Molecular analyses of the biodiversity of different vineyards around the world, including the Vinya d’en Sabater, the experimental vineyard of the Campus de l’Alimentació of the University of Barcelona.
Details of the analysis of the biodiversity of a vineyard and its environment:
Trace elements, mainly in particulate form in ambient air, are at extremely low levels, which requires the development of particularly sensitive collection and analysis techniques.
To achieve this, the trapping of volatile molecules contained in a large volume of air, taken from the immediate environment of the immediate biodiversity of a given vineyard, is favored.
These will then be extracted and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
This analysis makes it possible to highlight the minority molecules that may be linked to the composition of the plant cover of biodiversity, thus defining the aromatic identity of the biodiversity of a given place.
Finally, it carries out gas chromatography and olfactometry analyses on the wines produced in order to try to find a correlation between the aromatic identity of these wines and the aromatic identity of the biodiversity of the area.
Here are the different steps to achieve this:
Analysis of the aromatic impact of the biodiversity of each season of three harvests of a selected vineyard:
– Aromatic analysis of the air in the vineyard environment.
– Aromatic analysis of the flora of the vineyard environment (wild herbs, trees, flowers, etc.).
-Analysis of the molecular harmonies of the flora around the vineyard (wild herbs, trees, flowers, etc.) to obtain a list of complementary ingredients sharing the same dominant aromatic molecules as the fauna, in order to create a cuisine that transcribes the meaning of the place.
– Soil aroma analysis (including microbiome and humus) of each season.
-Predictive functional metagenomic analysis of soil and subsoil microbiota (targeted metagenomic & shotgun metagenomic sequencing).
– Aromatic analysis of grape bloom.
– Aromatic analysis of the different parts of the vine (leaves, stems, stalks).
– Aromatic analysis of the must (before fermentation).
– Analysis of wine aromas (after fermentation, before maturation).
– Analysis of aromas at the end of the aging of the wine (before bottling).
– Aromatic analysis of the wine (once in the bottle).
– Aromatic analysis of the wine of three vintages, once a year, for the three years following each of the three vintages.
Publication of results.
Creation and unveiling of a new certification: “Chartier Aromatic Biodiversity World LAB.
phase 3: conclusion
Scientific demonstration of the link between wine aromas and the biodiversity of different vineyards around the world.
Publication of results.
phase 4: experimentation
Experimental phase of trials aimed at influencing the aromatic style of wines through targeted biodiversity with the aim, via a better understanding of biodiversity, on the basis of the analysis results of phases 1, 2 and 3, of contributing to the safeguarding (or regeneration) of biodiversity disrupted by chemical inputs, particularly after the war, as well as by current climate change.
Publication of results.
phase 5: molecular harmonies of biodiversity
Once these first four phases have been completed, the idea is to use this molecular analysis data to both prove the impact of botanical biodiversity on the aromatic identity of wines (as described in phase three) and to find other ingredients that share the same dominant molecules as those found both in the plants and other shrubs and flowers of the environment and in the wines made from them. The aim is to build a new vocabulary of aromatic biodiversity in plants and wines, which will pave the way for a new aromatic map of possible food and wine harmonies between complementary biodiversity foods, which in turn will make it possible to create a new “gastronomic biodiversity” of the “sense of place” in the harmony between the plate and the glass.
This work will lead to a second research and publication project, on the missing link of the global concept of gastronomic terroir in the world of cuisine, with the publication of a “Manifesto for the development of an ecological transition of gastronomic biodiversity”. The subsequent publication of this gastronomic manifesto, which will be based on the analysis of molecular harmonies adapted to the study of the aromatic impact of biodiversity on the creation of a local cuisine, will also make it possible to transcribe the landscape of place onto the plate and thus reveal “the missing link in the concept of gastronomic terroir in the world of cuisine”.