Bordeaux benefits

Health-giving antioxidants exist not only in the region’s wine but also in the bark of its local pines

About 120 people will go to Château Rauzan-Ségla in Bordeaux within the next ten days to pick its grapes. Eighty per cent of the pickers will be regulars and none will be holidaymakers keen to lark around in vats while they squeeze grape juice between their feet and nibble the fruit. Vats are now glistening metallic tanks, as shiny and clean as a guardsman’s cap badge. Successful vinification, the production of the wine, and viticulture, the growing of the grapes, is now a matter of balancing nature and science. The days of including sweat and skin from holidaymakers’ feet in a grand crû classe wine have passed.

Had it not been for the marriage of science with years of experience, this year’s grape harvest could have been a disaster, without even one bottle of wine being produced on some estates. This has happened at one château where everything is so organic that nature is unfettered.

At Château Rauzan-Ségla the vineyard and the vinification has become a model of what vine-growing and wine-making should be since it was bought by Chanel in 1994. The pruning, cultivation and harvesting are carefully controlled, but chemicals are used as little as possible. This year, without any sprays, the mildew would have rotted the grapes. As it is, the château will have a reasonable harvest and although the vintage is unlikely to be exceptional it will still be drunk with pleasure in years to come.

Research reported this week at the annual science conference in York confirmed the value to health of a modest intake of wine.There are endless examples of the value of the vitamins, antioxidants and trace elements in fruit and vegetables, but doctors remain chary of recommending supplements.

Yet natural substances are important. For example, an analysis published in The Archives of Internal Medicine by scientists working in Lyons and Milan, who are studying cancer, compared the results from 57,000 people involved in 18 surveys, and concluded that those who have vitamin D supplements have a 7 per cent lower death rate than those who don’t. The supplements of the vitamin folic acid are now known to be essential for women expecting to become pregnant if they are to lower their risk of having a baby with neurological abnormalities. Recently research has shown that if the incidence of macular degeneration of the eye is to be reduced, vitamin supplements, rather than a well-balanced diet, will be needed

Source - Times

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