Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 29 November 2013

Domaine de Vassal: report on today's meeting + PF Vranken's Green Book

From André Deyrieux's Facebook page his report on today's meeting about saving the collection of 7000 different grape varieties at the Domaine de Vassal:  
 'Salle comble, plus de deux heures de réunion. 
Isolé sur ses positions, JP Géné, manifestement dépassé par les enjeux de l'affaire.

Merci à Michel Issaly (President des vignerons indépendantspour son accueil et son engagement. 

Bravo aux participants qui n'ont pas manqué de clarté ni d'arguments.

Quelques révélations, notamment sur le fait que l'INRA ne paye pas ses loyers depuis un an, et sur la proposition de PF Vranken d'examiner l'avenir autour d'une table.

Le plus important est la demande de fond : maintenir le conservatoire à Vassal, et en tout cas ne pas accepter le déménagement sur un site inadéquat et sans les conditions d'une réussite totale.

La pétition est bien sûr toujours en ligne :

Nous avons dépassé les 3800 signatures.'
(Maintenant 3858 – Jim)

Jim's loose translation of the above: 
'The meeting was packed out and it lasted for more than two hours.

JP Géné’s position was isolated and he is obviously overwhelmed by this affair.

Many thanks to Michel Issaly (President des vignerons indépendants) for his welcome and his support.

Well done to the participants in the debate for the clarity of their arguments.

Several revelations: the INRA has not paid rent on the Domaine de Vassal for the last year. PF Vranken is prepared to talk about the future of the Domaine de Vassal. (See below)

It was agreed that the most important aim is to preserve Domain de Vassal’s collection of grape varieties and not to accept this collection being moved to another site unless it was entirely satisfactory and fit for the purpose.  

The petition remains online and we have more than 3800 signatures. (Currently 3858 – Jim) 

Vranken-Pommery's Green Book

Biodiversity – at the heart of our activities

Extract (below) about the Domaine de Vassal from Vranken-Pommery’s Green Book (rapport de dévelopment durable). French version of the Green Book here.

Vranken-Pommery own Listel, of which the Domaine de Vassal is a small part.  You would think that Vranken-Pommery has a great deal of kudos to gain by helping to find a solution to what should happen to the Domaine de Vassal and its unique collection. Hopefully they will be part of the solution.  

‘Biodiversity – At the heart of our activities:
The largest collection of wine varietals in the world
Since 1949, Domaines Listel has hosted an experimental research centre managed by INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), whose mission is to preserve, gain better knowledge of and promote vine biodiversity. This centre is called Domaine Vassal. It covers over 27 hectares and is home to INRA's national and international collection of vines. The sandy soil is a true health sanctuary where neither phylloxera nor virus vector nematodes exist. In addition, the climate is ideal for the healthy development of all varietals.

This collection has been progressively added to through donations, exchanges and prospects in France and abroad. At present it constitutes a unique resource worldwide. It consists of more than 7,000 "clones" from 40 different countries, wild vines, cultivated vines or vines of newly created varietals.

Such a collection is important for a range of reasons:

• The many varietals conserved come from very diverse regions and countries; some are no longer cultivated in vineyards and constitute a magnificent cultural and historical heritage. Current genetic erosion therefore makes this type of conservation centre necessary; today it would no longer be possible to reconstitute such a collection. Older source vineyards that used to produce the grape varietals have in fact disappeared in France and worldwide.

• It is also a source of vital genes for varietal improvement. Some of these genes might be essential in the future in order to cope with vineyard diseases, the changes in tastes of consumers or even future climate change. INRA currently uses several useful genes in this way in its improvement programmes.

• This central collection helps to reconstitute or complete other collections in France and abroad, or to establish experimental vineyards. It has led to the creation of a number of clones and also to the cultural renewal of old grape varietals.

To achieve this, Domaine Vassal dispatches several hundred varieties each year in response to requests from researchers, scientists, technicians or other professionals. Domaine Vassal also has an exceptional document base. It is regularly asked to provide information on vine varieties. This collection is a magnificent genetic tool for improving the cultivation of vines worldwide.

Domaine Vassal's collection of vines is therefore remarkable on many fronts, including in terms of its historical experience, its size and the quality of the analysis of its plant material.'

Good to see Vranken-Pommery's eloquent and concise explanation of the importance of the Domaine de Vassal and its unique collection.  

See news story (29.11.13) on
The story confirms that there are plans to move the collection:
'Although final confirmation is still pending, it is due to be moved again from next year to the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) site at Peche Rouge in Gruissan, near Narbonne.'

The crucial question is whether the INRA site at Peche Rouge is phylloxera free? The INRA site says it is part of La Clape, so it looks as though the collection of vines would not be planted in phylloxera-free ground.  

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