Stable isotope and elemental analyses were applied to the study of wines produced from the Cabernet Franc vine variety cultivated during several years (1982 to 1990) on specific parts of the Saumur-Champigny vineyard dedicated to the « terroir » experiment of INRA. The purpose of this work was to describe the behaviour or 2H, 13C and 18O isotopes in the water and ethanol of wines in terms of the meteorological conditions (temperature, precipitation and insolation) which govern vine growing. Since the « terroir » concept involves a synergy between the c1imate and the soil, the distribution of typical metallic elements was also determined by flame and electrothermal ionization atomic absorption. About twenty parcels, carefully described from the geological and pedological point of view were considered in this study which demonstrated the ability of Sr, Al and Rb to discriminate between wines from the same year but grown on adjacent parcels. The content in trace elements of the wines was also shown to be correlated with the geological nature of the soil. As far as stable isotopes are considered, it appears that the climate of the year of production of a given region has a drastic influence on the isotope ratios of water and ethanol of wines and good correlations way be computed between these parameters and temperature and precipitations. From a more basic aspect, it is also shown that the nature of the soil which governs, at least in a part, the water use efficiency of vine, induces typical variations in the isotopic composition of wines. The results of this study demonstrate also the ability of stable isotope and elemental analyses to determine the geographical origin of a wine, and when the region of production is known, to infer the year of production from meteorological data. This method might prove to be an alternative method to radio carbon analysis for the next vintages.
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