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Greenpeace: climate change could destroy Burgundy

The wines of Meursault, Montrachet and Volnay could disappear forever as increases in temperature destroy the unique terroirs of Burgundy, a new report from Greenpeace says.

Published last Friday, the report – the first time Greenpeace has focussed on the effects of climate change on wine – offers a sobering prediction.

It suggests that if climate change continues at its current rate then temperatures in France could rise by 6 degrees by the end of the century.

If temperatures do climb, the consequences for Burgundy – no stranger to the demands of a changing climate – would be critical.

Focusing on the historic wine capital of Beaune, the report documents significant changes caused by climate change.

Between 1988 and 2006, grapes harvested on average 13 days earlier than from the period 1973 to 1987.

Between the same periods, the time required for grapes to mature has reduced from 50 to 40 days.

But it’s not bad news for everyone. Formerly unlikely regions in Europe, like southern Britain, are already producing prize-winning vintages thanks to the warmer conditions.

Ultimately, however, wine lovers will be more concerned about the report’s implications for the fragile terroirs of Burgundy that are clearly under threat. Cataclysmic results are predicted; the possibility of new vine diseases, increased flooding and the greater risk of fruit rotting on the vines.

Concern amongst wine producers and other parts of the sector has been gathering momentum since August 2009, when a group of 50 winemakers, sommeliers and chefs wrote to Le Monde to voice their concerns over global warming to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Their expectations for action at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December are high, as governments are urged to push for a strong global agreement on climate change.

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Written by James Lawrence

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