For the first time, plantings of the white hybrid variety, Voltis, have begun in Champagne, as reported by French media sources. In total, an area of approximately 5 hectares (about 12 acres) are expected to be planted this year, with approximately half in Montagne de Reims, as reported by Alexandre Rat, a winemaker in Sermiers and one of the first to plant the new variety.
The grape variety, which is said to be resistant to both powdery and downy mildew, was permitted at the end of 2022 for experimental purposes in the AOP Champagne by the Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (INAO). Voltis is a French hybrid that emerged from the crossing of Villaris and VRH3159-2-12. It may, however, take several years until the first bottles are released to the market.
Restrictions in place
The use of hybrids is still regulated. In order to limit changes in the character of the Champagne, Voltis should not make up more than 5% of the grape varieties of any producer and no more than 10% of a blend. In this regard, the winemakers have signed agreements with the INAO and the administrative organization ODG and committed to providing the industry association Comité Champagne with grapes or must from Voltis and neighboring plots. These grapes are intended to be used for the evaluation of the profile of the wines in their respective terroirs.
Still in the experimental phase
Voltis has now entered an experimental phase which is supposed to last 10 years. In 2033, the INAO will decide whether it will be included in the specification of the AOC Champagne, whether the trials will continue - or whether they will be discontinued.
Hybrid grape varieties created by a marriage of Vitis Vinifera and non- Vitis Vinifera are increasingly referred to as PIWIs. Critics claim they produce lesser quality wines.
They can, however, be winter hardy, require less warmth and sunlight, enabling viticulture in marginal climates. Additionally, their thicker skins and higher disease resistance require less spraying and fewer pesticides, making them an option for environmentally conscious growers. ITP