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New production methods meet consumer demand

With the prevailing public shift towards healthier living and responsible drinking firmly on the industry agenda, consumers are becoming more aware of the need to lead a more balanced lifestyle

To satisfy this demand, Domaines Auriol is one winery that has taken the initiative to create a new generation of wines with fewer calories and lower alcohol levels compared to traditional wines.

Wines that meet consumer demand

Languedoc-Roussillon-based Domaines Auriol focuses its product development on its ability to analyse market requirements and then adapt wine styles accordingly. Says MD Claude Vialade: “We took the same approach when we began making organic wine 20 years ago; it’s all about meeting the expectations of a new generation of consumers. We aim to nurture new wine drinkers, while offering more experienced consumers a quality product that meets their requirements in terms of diet and health choices.”

The So’Light range

The wines in the So’Light range have no residual sugar (less than 2 grams per litre) and thus are low in calories (60–63 calories per 120 ml glass). They have reduced alcohol (9%, compared to an average 12–13% found in traditional wines), and thus offer a neat solution to the problem of reconciling health and pleasure.

They have a clear appearance, an aromatic, fruity nose and are full of flavour, thanks to their ground-breaking production method. The range comprises three wines; a red Merlot, a Vin de Pays rosé made with Grenache and Cinsault, and a white Terret-Sauvignon blend.

An innovative production method

So’Light 9° wines are made using combined membrane technologies, developed on an experimental basis and pioneered by Domaines Auriol in partnership with INRA Pech-Rouge (the French National Institute for Agronomic Research) which in 2005 initiated a three-year national research programme managed by Jean-Louis Escudier to reduce alcohol content in wine, further to requests from the wine industry.

Unlike other “dealcoholised” wines made using spinning cone (distillation) or classic reverse osmosis methods that can strip out the fruit and wine flavours, the So’Light  range is produced by a two-step process that ensures the all-important organoleptic qualities are retained.

The first step consists of taking a wine made from fully-matured grapes, specifically vinified for the creation of a low-alcohol wine, and gently removing a carefully controlled part of its water and alcohol content via the Eurodia protocol (a “light” form of reverse osmosis that allows the concentrate to retain a significant amount of liquid, side-stepping the “cracking” problem commonly associated with traditional reverse osmosis).

The permeate is then processed using a membrane contractor which separates the water and ethanol; the water is reintroduced to obtain a wine with reduced alcohol, and no additives.

So’Light packaging, sales and marketing

The So’Light range was launched to the trade at Vinexpo in June 2009, and orders for the 2008 vintage are already being placed. The range is packaged in white Bordeaux bottles with screw caps, for placement in wine aisles; 25cl screw cap bottles are also available for merchandising in the snacks aisle alongside low-fat ready meals, and starting with the 2009 vintage, Merlot and rosé will be available for organic aisles.
In export markets, the concept can be applied to sports and fitness clubs; for consumption “on the move” (e.g. for camping or picnics), there is new can packaging.



1 September 2009 - Felicity Murray