Lead on the palate

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- (Credit: Ajit Ninan)Connoisseurs who have savoured the renowned French wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, for the past 40 years may be surprised to learn that its vintages from the 1950s contained high levels of lead (Nature, Vol 370, No 6484).

Belgian and French researchers analysed 19 vintages of the wine and found they contained toxic compounds such as trimethyl and triethyl lead, which are degraded products of the lead added to petrol. Interestingly, the vineyard in which the grapes for the wine are grown is situated at the junction of 2 heavily used auto routes.

The study showed also that the concentration of lead in wines followed the consumption pattern of leaded petrol in western Europe.

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