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High-tech improves centuries-old wine tradition

Sunday, November 03, 2013 - 01:47

Nov 3 - New technology called 'Smart vineyard' helps winemakers to harvest 'nobly rotten' grapes to make Hungary's Tokaj wine. Joel Flynn reports.

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This is one of the most celebrated wine making regions in the world. Tokaj in Hungary has been producing its unique brand of wine since the 17th century. The fermentation process sounds unpalatable. It involves using a disease to rot the grapes in a special way. But experts say it provides a delicious sweet taste, and local wine maker Gergely Makai thinks new technology could make it even tastier. SOUNDBITE: Winemaker, Gergely Makai, saying (Hungarian): "The Botrytis fungus in these grapes we use to our advantage in making the wine, but we think this technology can help help us predict the chances of the grapes getting the infection in the first place and then rotting in the right way." The technology in question is called 'Smart Vineyard', which allows users to access grape data on smartphones, tablets or laptops. It uses sensors throughout vineyards to measure humidity, precipitation, and moisture on the leaves. By adding weather forecasts and data from users, it can make information accessible for wine makers to help them fine-tune their crop. SOUNDBITE: Winemaker, Gergely Makai, saying (Hungarian): "The benefits are that we have more money left over by reducing costs, but also it makes a difference how much chemicals are sprayed on the grapes, which affects the wine." Laszlo Gardosi is in charge of state-owned cellars that hold some 280,000 bottles. His personal favourite is the Tokaji Aszu from 1906. SOUNDBITE (Hungarian) CELLAR MANAGER OF MUSEUM WINES, LASZLO GARDOSI, SAYING: "It was perhaps like an old man whose face bears the marks of age but still carries the elusive beauty that defined him in his youth." But if "Smart Vineyard" works as well as the winemakers hope it will, 2013 could one day prove the best vintage of all.

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High-tech improves centuries-old wine tradition

Sunday, November 03, 2013 - 01:47