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Saturday, May 22, 2010

GOSH: Excellence Research Chair in Wine to Brock and Niagara.

REAL NEWS: A $200-million international recruitment drive is bringing 19 leading researchers to Canadian campuses with multimillion-dollar grants.



TRAWNA – (GOSH Wine News Services) – At a Press Conference to be called later this afternoon, the Federal Government of Canada will be announcing an academic researcher enhancement plan for Canadian universities and colleges.

The researchers – half recruited from the United States, with four from Britain and the rest from Germany, France and Brazil – will each receive $10-million over seven years as the first group of Canada Excellence Research Chairs.

For Ontario, the Excellence Research Chairs will include one in Wine, to be served jointly between Brock University and Niagara College. GOSH Wine News Services has learned that Michel Rolland from France has been enticed to come to Niagara to do academic research in the production of wine.

In all, 13 universities will welcome these scientists to their campuses, most with colleagues and graduate students in tow. As part of the recruitment package, several of their spouses were offered academic posts at their new campuses as well.

Apparently, Rolland (and his researcher wife Dany) will leave his Bordeaux lab and come to Ontario to research fruit-heavy and oak-influenced wines. The idea, proposed by Jim Warren, head of Fruit Wines of Ontario, is the reverse of what has been happening around the world, thus making his idea unique and pertinent to Ontario.

Says Warren: "I am so sick and tired of hearing and reading about grape wines described as fruit-bombs and full of fruits like cassis, blackberry, plums, peaches, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, pears. apples, and the like. Why not call a spade a spade? Why not delve into Ontario fruits and make them more like grape wines ought to be? Why shouldn't a wine made from black currants be loaded with cassis and compete with those big heavy cabs and merlots, eh?"

Rolland's main research portfolio will be to look at creating fruit wines to merge into the grape wine profile. In an exclusive interview, he said: "I'm back to micro-oxygenation. This technique actually works better with fruit wines than it does with grape wines. Within a short period of time, we should be able to turn every single fruit wine into a "better-than" grape wine. We'll look at black currants and turn them into fat cabernets and merlots. Strawberries? Fruitier gamay or tempranillo. Blackberries? Syrah, which I will rename here in Ontario as SheeRaz™. Black cherry? Try zinfandel or merlot. Apples? Unoaked Chardonnays. Cherries and raspberries? Pinot noir. Plums? Merlot or Malbec of course. Peaches? Viognier or riesling. Prunes? Nebbiolo. Sour cherries? Try sangiovese. And on and on…"

Warren, when apprised of Rolland's immediate plans, further suggested that Rolland tackle oak. "Hey, why stop with fruit? Go directly to oak and make an oak wine…I love it!"

According to the terms of the research excellence agreement, Rolland is to spend some of his time at Niagara College which is undertaking the vegetative component of wines. Brock will do the fruit, Niagara will do the vegetables.

Rolland admits that it is a little harder doing things with bell peppers, grass, hay, mushrooms, and the like. Sauvignon Blanc styles come to mind, and grass in Ontario is cheap. "But", he said, "I like the students' approach: we can make a true pizza wine based on peppers, tomatoes, and dairy products. Maybe we can also make a wine from oak chips or dust as well."

During the summers, rather than spend time with his family, Rolland has contracted with the Liberal Control of Beverages in Ontario, A Have-Not Province, to do some Product Consulting in the stores. "I like to be with the ultimate consumers, to see and hear what they are tasting. Without them, I don't exist."

More on this Press Conference as it happens…


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