User:Murgh/Bordeaux University Institute of Oenology

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The UFR d'Oenologie of the University of Bordeaux

University complex within sight of Ch Haut-Brion on the outskirts of the city, whose Institut d'Oenologie is a centre of oenological academe of world renown. (Viticultural research is conducted under the auspices of INRA.)

The institute was founded in 1880 (the same year as the research institute that was to become the University of California at Davis) as a mere station agronomique, when Ulysse Gayon, the sole Professor of Chemistry at the associated University of Bordeaux, became its director.

Gayon had studied and worked with Louis Pasteur, the founder of scientific oenology. He considered the station's function was to promulgate sound methods of making and maturing wine. In addition to his contributions to the analysis of wines, he worked with Alexis Millardet on the development of the copper-based vine treatment designed to combat fungal diseases which was to be known as Bordeaux mixture.

During the 40 years Gayon directed the station, its tradition of identifying the practical applications which could be made from research results was established, as was the importance of transmitting information to wine-makers in unscientific language.

From 1927 the most significant research on wine and related subjects in the world was carried out at the University of Bordeaux through a collaboration between Jean Ribereau-Gayon, the grandson of Ulysse Gayon, and Emile Peynaud, who did not officially join the University until 1949. From 1949, when Jean Ribereau-Gayon became director of the station, the results of basic and extensive research became apparent to wine-maker and consumer alike. Chromatography provided legally convincing evidence of the use of hybrids in any wine sample, and encouraged their replacement by `noble' vinifera vine varieties in the vineyards of Bordeaux, and thereby a great improvement in the quality of the region's basic Bordeaux AC wines. At the same time, the understanding of the process of malolactic fermentation gave wine producers the knowledge they needed to control a fundamental step in wine-making and gave them much greater control over the style and quality of the wines they made.

The importance of the education of oenologists was officially recognized in 1956 with the creation of an Ecole Superieure d'Oenologie empowered to award a wine-maker's diploma. This became the Institut d'Oenologie in 1963. During this period oenology achieved full recognition as a new science and in 1971 the institute formally became part of the University, its work and educational titles enjoying full academic status.

The work of the institute has continued since 1976 under the direction of Pascal Ribereau-Gayon, the son of the previous director. Since 1905 there has been close collaboration between the research carried out by the institute and a laboratory founded in that year by the French Ministry of Agriculture. The primary business of this laboratory is to check that French wine laws are respected by ensuring, for example, that all alcohol is grape based, that no fruits other than grapes have been used, that wines have not been subjected to both acidification and enrichment, and that a wine has not been stretched by dilution.

The institute is currently engaged in research on subjects which vary from explorations of the nature and effects of different yeasts to investigations into the characteristics of different tannins. The most significant result of the institute's research in the 1980s was arguably the dramatic improvement in aroma and subtlety of dry white bordeaux, in which field Dubourdieu deserves much credit.

In addition to training oenologists who make wine throughout the world and belong to what is outside France referred to as the `Bordeaux school' of wine-making, the institute supervises doctorates on vinous subjects and is the only French organization to enjoy this privilege. A prominent feature of the professional training at the institute is the importance attached to tasting wines and analysing their characteristics. Since 1949 the institute has also given series of tastings and lectures for growers and cellar workers without scientific training.

The institute is housed in its own buildings on the grounds of Bordeaux University. Although some viticultural research is conducted under INRA auspices at Bordeaux, and some viticulture is certainly taught by the institute's lecturers, montpellier has long been regarded as France's centre of viticultural academe.



  1. ^ Oxford Companion to Wine. "Bordeaux University". 

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