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Champagne will be too hot for Champagne, research warns

Champagne could soon be too hot to produce Champagne, Italian vineyards could be deserts, and Estonia could be a serious wine-producing country, according to new research.

Global warming could lead to huge changes in wine production within the next 50 years, according to a study carried out by Southern Oregon University in the US.

The research covers 27 regions worldwide, and recorded a rise of 1.3 degrees celsius over the last 50 years, which looks set to continue, with serious consequences for producers. ‘Some areas, such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and Barolo will have to grow new types of grape and that will mean producing wines very different from those they produce now,’ Professor Gregory Jones said, speaking to UK broadsheet the Sunday Times.

A temperature rise of 2 degrees celsius by 2050 is forecast, which could seriously affect which varieties of grapes can be grown worldwide, the time it takes them to ripen, and their concentrations of sugar and acid.

Warmer climates produce sweeter grapes, which means wines could be stronger, but also lack the flavours created by acids. Red wines could benefit from the warmer weather, but some white wines like Sauternes could be seriously affected with no cool autumn evenings for the grapes to mature in.

In France, Champagne’s climate would be seriously affected, and Mediterranean vineyards could be turned into desert. The UK would also become warmer, leading to a rise in wine production, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, whose soils are similar to those of Bordeaux .

Germany would also be able to increase red wine production, and Baltic countries would have a climate suitable for viniculture. Parts of Spain and Italy could become desert-like, with Rioja, Chianti and the sparkling wine Cava severely threatened unless vineyards can be moved to cooler high altitudes.

The New World is also in danger, with Stellenbosch, the Barossa Valley and the Hunter Valley at serious risk from rising temperatures.

Written by Frances Robinson

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