Locherber Diffuser Klinto 1817 Posted on 19 Nov 16:04

A rare and almost extinct fragrance, a divine experience

IMAGINE sitting down with a glass of wine made from Clinton or Noah rather than Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. This is less far-fetched than it sounds. As recently as 1963, France alone had more than 40,000 acres (16,000 hectares) of such little known American grapes, patches of which are still planted in the Vendée and the Cévennes.

These varieties are a reminder of the battle against phylloxera, a small, root-munching aphid that did incalculable damage to the wine business in the last 35 years of the 19th century. What George Gale, a philosophy professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, calls “the worst of all known invasive species disasters” swept across the viticultural landscape like a biblical plague. It destroyed vineyards from Rioja to Rheingau, Stellenbosch to Sicily. With good reason, Jules-Emile Planchon, the French botanist who helped to subdue the insect, dubbed it Phylloxera vastatrix.

Various remedies were proposed: flooding, planting on sandy soils and the use of carbon disulphide (a flammable, toxic chemical that was costly as well as tricky to apply). Growers then tried planting lower-quality American grapes, including Clinton and Noah, before switching, finally, to grafted vines combining phylloxera-resistant American rootstocks with European scions. This is still the practice in most of the world's vineyards today