Why Big Red Diary?


pylloxeraMy journeys on the tram these last weeks have been enlivened by this book – Phylloxera. Like all the best stories, we have a malevolent baddie – and an ugly one – that’s bent on the destruction of (wine) ‘civilisation’. As the detective work unfurls the deadly ‘enemy’ takes many names; Peritymbia vitisana, Pemphigus vitifolii, Daktulosphaira, Viteus vitifolii, Rhizaphis vastatrix and Phylloxera vastatrix. Today, science knows it as Daktulosphaira vitifolii but the name ‘phylloxera’ persits. Don’t however assume that this is just history told; in California the destruction of previously resistant vines has recently heralded the arrival of phylloxera ‘Biotype B’ – the problem starts afresh.

The book is packed full of biggots, self promoters and always until it’s too late – denial. A fully recommended narrative that’s more like a novel than social history.

As routes to bypass the effect of the ‘louse’ were found, prices started to tumble for what we might now call vin de pays – riots and death were the result – the timing of guerrilla action in the Languedoc with the appearance of Biotype B is strangely coincidental.

4 responses to “phylloxera”

  1. David Riach

    Have you read “The Great Wine Blight” by George Ordish, first published by J M Dent & Sons in 1972, then again in 1987 by Sidgwick & Jackson as part of the series of Wine Classics edited by Jancis Robinson? (ISBN 0 283 99425 8)

  2. Burgundy-Report » jacky rigaux - terroir and the winegrowers

    […] See what I mean about language – this would, for example, be better placed on Boisset’s website. It seems that I’m also a major part of the problem because I’m a card carrying member of the “dominating Anglo-Saxon culture”, this term is peppered through the opening pages; Anglo-Saxon being used in each case as a negative reference point. One assertion that amazed me after just finishing the excellent Phylloxera, was the following: For example, many winegrowers who refused to admit that phylloxera could be contained by the use of natural predators, were persuaded to resort to using American rootstock… […]

  3. Dying on the Vine; George Gale (2011)

    […] If you want a novelette, a ripping who-dunnit of a phylloxera story, then perhaps this is not a volume to consider – you should go for this one. […]

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