The Lignage grape was virtually extinct several years ago. The last known vine was situated in the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) nursery at Montpellier, France. Today, the number has increased but there are still well under a thousand vines in existence.
The revival of Lignage is part of a wider project overseen by a local group, the Union for Genetic Resources of Centre-Val de Loire (URGC). URGC’s goal is to revitalize old grape varieties linked to the local area prior to the phylloxera infestation in the late 1800s.
Phylloxera is an insect that can damage grape vines by feeding on the plant sap from the roots. It is often described as an aphid-like sucking insect.
Officially, the project is experimental at this point so the Lignage varietal is not listed on any appellation documentation. Lignage’s history in the region dates back to 1427. It was also known as Macé Doux, Macédoux, Massé Doux and Lignage de Blois. By the mid 1800s it had become well established in a winegrowing zone known as the Côte des Grouëts.
The variety is similar to Pinot Noir in that it produces a light-coloured red wine. Having purple skin and a green flesh it can also be made into a white wine.
Not much is known about the wine that Lignage produced but according to written accounts the grapes produced a fine, delicate, lightly coloured red wine with fine aromas and a low alcohol content. More information should be known by 2024 when the first trial wines are expected to be produced. It is anticipated that by 2028 the varietal will return as an official vine and be available for more extensive planting.
I look forward to perhaps having the opportunity to try Lignage at some point in the future.