Ampelography: Gouais Blanc is Chardonnay's mum
A paper published today has shown that the lowly variety Gouais Blanc is the mother of some very important grape varieties, including Chardonnay and Gamay Noir.
The paper (A banned variety was the mother of several major wine grapes; Harriet V. Hunt, Matthew C. Lawes, Mim A. Bower, John W. Haeger and Christopher J. Howe; Biology Letters) is freely available on the net if you are interested.
The fact that crosses between Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir resulted in a number of varieties from eastern France has been known for a while. Back in 1999, a paper by John Bowers and colleagues in leading journal Science showed that this cross has resulted in the following varieties:
Aligote, Aubin vert, Auxerrois, Bachet noir, Beaunoir, Chardonnay, Dameron, Franc noir de la Haute Saöne, Gamay blanc, Gloriod, Gamay noir, Knipperle, Melon, Peurion, Romorantin, Roublot and Sacy.
The significance of the new paper is that it identifies which variety (Gouais or Pinot) provided the pollen (the father) and which was the mother vine in each of the crosses (or, at least, the 12 that were studied). The authors addressed this by examining the chloroplast DNA.
Chloroplasts are like mitochondria in that both of these organelles contain their own DNA. All your mitochondria were inherited from your mother; in the grape vine, in addition to maternal inheritance of mitochondria, there is maternal inheritance of chloroplasts, all of which come from the maternal side.
This means that the way the cross occurs matters. The characteristics of the mother are a little more important than those of the father. And, interestingly, the lesser grape in the crossing, the reviled Gouais, is the mother in most of these crossings.
Gouais is the mother for: Aligoté, Auxerrois, Bachet, Chardonnay, Franc noir, Gamay noir, Melon, Romorantin and Sacy.
Pinot is the mother for: Aubin vert, Knipperlé and Roublot.
Labels: wine science