From biotechnology to oenology
The LAFFORT Company was created in 1895 and has played a leading role in the main evolutionary phases of oenology. It played an active role in the major transformation witnessed in the past century: the shift from curative oenology, essentially based on pure chemistry, to preventative oenology using biochemistry and biotechnologies.
LAFFORT has been involved in a large number of modern oenological discoveries, notably via the financing of 18 theses over the last 15 years, the creation of a research team that currently employs 17 people and with 18 patent applications.
Some of these themes include:
- Identification of the molecules responsible for aroma in Sauvignon wines and their genesis, from the grape to the wine (Darriet P., Tominaga T., Thibon C.).
- Study and selection of yeast strains firstly from an ecological point of view, secondly thanks to new genetic tools, DNA chips, cross breeding and now controlled cross breeding (Frezier V., Masneuf I., Serra A., Marullo P.).
- The development of high-performance Oenococcus oeni strains has been made possible thanks to research work on the physiology and genetic characterisation of lactic bacteria in wine associated with production techniques exclusively developed by LAFFORT and adapted inoculation methods. This MLF management also contributes towards preventing spoilage due to the growth of undesirable microorganisms, and also helps to control costs. (Gindreau E., Renouf V.)
- Development of tools for measuring protein-tannin interactions, from charge density to microcalorimetry, including the electronic tongue (Lagune L., Fontoin H., Schmauch G.)
- Study and improvement of enzymatic preparations for the release of specific molecules (Barbe C., Ducruet J., Humbert A.)
- Understanding biochemical and physiochemical phenomena associated with lees maturation, which contribute towards improving the gustatory qualities and stability of wines (Moine V., Laborde B., Humbert A.)
All these projects have given rise to a clear improvement in and diversification of oenological products, such as: juice extraction using specific enzyme preparations; controlling fermentations with new microorganism selection techniques and techniques for improving yeast and bacterial strains; and formulating fining agents that are better-adapted to current limitations.
These discoveries have also contributed to the development of new stabilisation techniques such as mannoproteins for tartaric stabilisation in wine and catechin-rich tannin preparations for stabilising colouring matter.