First feedback on the resistant variety Souvignier gris

Its berries are pink, which is not very common among the most widely grown grape varieties in France. However, its greatest peculiarity is that it is resistant to powdery mildew and downy mildew. It has inherited this resistance from one of its relatives, the Bronner (the other is Cabernet Sauvignon). It is called Souvignier gris, one of the resistant varieties currently authorized in France.

The IFV can confirm that the Souvignier gris has at least one resistance gene against powdery mildew: Ren 3.

For Thierry Grimal of the Aude Chamber of Agriculture, who is responsible for the Cazes experimental farm in the Aude department, Souvignier gris is an interesting grape variety for several reasons: its resistance to powdery mildew and downy mildew has been confirmed under the conditions of the estate. "In 2018, a year with high downy mildew pressure, we saw fruiting bodies on the leaves but nothing on the grapes. Unfortunately, we were unable to carry out the observations until the harvest because a hailstorm destroyed almost the entire harvest," regrets Thierry Grimal, who nevertheless advocates maintaining two treatments per year, one against powdery mildew and one against downy mildew, because otherwise the so-called 'secondary' diseases such as black rot or anthracnose could become more important.

"On a scale of susceptibility to powdery mildew from 0 to 100, Chardonnay is 100% susceptible, Merlot 43% and Souvignier 12%," says Nathalie Goma Fortin of the Hérault Chamber of Agriculture, confirming the good resistance of the Souvignier gris to powdery mildew.

Acid supplier for assemblages

Resistance to disease is not the only advantage of the Souvignier gris. Its upright habit makes it easier to bottle. It is vigorous, but no shriveling has yet been observed under the conditions of the Aude department. In practice, it is early, but not too early, as it can be harvested at the same time as the Chardonnay, during the normal operating period of the Razès cooperative winery, which processes part of the estate's grapes into wine.

Another plus point: the wines made from the Souvignier grape have a good aromatic intensity, typical of citrus fruits. The estate has carried out three winemakings with this variety in its experimental cellar. "The wines always came out with quite a marked acidity," says the manager of the Domaine de Cazes. Blending experiments on various scales carried out with the Chamber of Agriculture of the Hérault department showed that up to 15%, the main grape variety was not alienated, while it was refreshed by the acidity of the Souvignier, with a sometimes better finish.

The Institut coopératif du vin (ICV), which also vinified these grapes, reports that the berries are firm and the yield when pressed is not very good.

Even if the berries are pink, no color transfer was observed under the institute's working conditions. Qualities that have not escaped the attention of the winegrowers of Tutiac (Gironde). After three years of trials carried out by the cooperative winery, eleven hectares were planted by eight members. "This grape variety produces very aromatic white wines," says the winery, which hopes to reduce the use of pesticides in this way.

Disappointed with poor drought tolerance

They planted Souvignier.

The experiments carried out by L'Occitane in Servian (Hérault) were less successful. In 2014, the cooperative planted a 1 ha Souvignier gris experimental plot with the support of the departmental council. Since then, the plot has been leased to a young winegrower. The monitoring is carried out by the Chamber of Agriculture and the IFV. "We were a little disappointed with the way the Souvignier gris behaved in the face of drought," says Alain Selponi from the cooperative's viticulture department, who believes that the grape variety is not the most suitable for the local terroir.

Its early maturity requires a harvest in mid-August. In this location, yields did not reach the expected target of 80 hl/ha. "It is true that the variety could not be planted on the desired rootstock and the young plants suffered from drought even at planting. But if we have to plant resistant grape varieties, we will opt for French varieties," he concluded.

Source: First returns of experiences on the resistant gray souvenir variety (

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