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CCU professor wins French award for wine research

January 29, 2010

Philip Whalen, associate professor of history and director of the Honors Program, has won the 2009 Alfred De Vergnette de Lamotte prize for his research on the economic development and marketing of the Burgundian wine industry during the 20th century. The award is given by the Center for the History of Wine and the Vine in conjunction with the Interprofessional Bureau of Burgundian Wines.

Whalen has done considerable research on the history of Burgundys wine industry. His scholarship has focused on the concept of terroir, which he describes as the totality of the elements of the vineyard habitat, and its importance to an understanding of the economy of Burgundian wine, gastronomy and tourism.

Whalens theories build on his knowledge of Burgundian history and his research on Gaston Roupnel (1871-1946), a notable Burgundian regionalist, vintner and scholar. Whalen recently edited two collections of Roupnels essays, published in 2007 and 2009, that demonstrate how Roupnel redefined Burgundian cultural identity through contributions to the fields of contemporary law, regional literature, 17-century history, historical geography, contemporary politics and French folklore.

Whalen has also researched the history of wine marketing and historical geography related to wine production in late 19th and early 20th-century Burgundy. His conclusions show how Burgundy united natural resources, historical memory, marketing strategies, and cultural performance into an imaginative and enduring form of commercial regionalism, says Whalen. This aggressive marketing was so successful that it became a model for all French agricultural products in the 1990s.

A second award was given to a team of researchers, directed by Anne Combaud, who studied price fluctuations in the French wine market since the 1850s.