Grapes and vines of the Phoenicians: Morphometric analyses of pips from modern varieties and Iron Age archaeological sites in the Western Mediterranean

The present post summarizes the results of a study aimed to contribute to the investigation of the role of Phoenicians in the spreading and trade of the grapevine through the morphometric analysis of grape pips. Waterlogged and charred samples were selected from three Iron Age sites in the Western Mediterranean: Motya (Sicily, Italy), Nuraghe S’Urachi (Sardinia, Italy) and Huelva (Andalusia, Spain). While only Motya is a Phoenician foundation, all three were nevertheless associated with Phoenician expansion and cultural interaction. Ten cultivars from the “Vivaio Federico Paulsen” in Marsala (western Sicily) were chosen as modern reference material. This analysis represents a first step towards a better understanding of diachronic and synchronic relationship between vines grown in the ancient West Mediterranean, which could be expanded by analysing grape pips from more contexts and more sites, compared against a wider selection of modern cultivars.

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Historical Wines of Portugal: The Classification, Consumer Associations and Marketing Implications

Geographical origin, use of traditional varieties and ancestral viticulture/oenology practices characterize wines classified as Historical Wines of Portugal (HWP). This post reports a study that identifies the authenticity attributes consumers associate with this classification and assesses the relative strength of associations. Compared to Aspirational Explorers, wine connoisseurs emerged as Heritage Gatekeepers, associating origin, cultural heritage, quality, production and at-home consumption more strongly with HWP, and tradition, wine age and out-of-home consumption less strongly. Market recognition of HWP as a novel and distinctive table wine classification, with well-defined and unique attributes, is thus likely to depend on consumers’ general wine knowledge. Related promotional activities targeting wine novices should first focus on educating them on HWP classification, whereas those directed at savvier consumers should emphasize wine authenticity cues instead.

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Understanding ‘Malbec’ clonal diversity through genomics and history

Malbec is a cultivar that is well-appreciated for the elaboration of red wine. It originated in Southwestern France and was introduced in Argentina during the 1850s. In order to study the clonal genetic diversity of Malbec grapevines, the authors of this post generated whole-genome resequencing data for four accessions with different clonal propagation records. The results show the usefulness of this approach for the study of the scarce intra-cultivar genetic diversity in grapevines. We also provide evidence on how human actions might have driven the accumulation of different somatic mutations, ultimately shaping the Malbec genetic diversity pattern.

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Domestication of wild grapevines is still active

Global viticulture has evolved following market trends, causing loss of cultivar diversity and traditional practices. In Montenegro, modern viticulture co-exists with a traditional viticulture that still maintains ancient practices and exploits local cultivars. As a result, this region provides a unique opportunity to explore processes increasing genetic diversity. This post reports the results of a study carried out to evaluate the diversity of Montenegrin grapevines and the processes involved in their diversification. Analyses of genetic structure unveiled several putative proto-varieties, likely representing the first steps involved in the generation of new cultivars or even secondary domestication events.

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Post Nº 100

This is the post number 100. One hundred of weekends that I spend writing, reading, illustrating, editing and publishing the posts. The time that I spent do it is just part of the time I stole to the family, special to my youngest daughter, so today I decided to involve her in this project. The illustration is her authorship.

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Professional highlights in wine area

Today ended the “Mostra da Universidade do Porto” that is an annual exhibition where the University of Porto schools promote their educational offer. The most repeated question made by high school students was “What can I do with that degree?”. I always answer, “All that you want”. I really believe it! Someone with cognitive and hard work capacities, can do anything with the tools acquire during the course. Joining creativity and courage, then are congregated the conditions to a brilliant career. Of course, that a personal career also depends in the networks that each one can establish.

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