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Wine professionals remain positive over climate change

Top wine professionals from around the world met in Chicago this week to discuss ways of reacting to climate change in the vineyard.

In a seminar entitled ‘the reality of climate change in the vineyard and how winemakers will react to it over the coming years’, Serena Sutcliffe MW presided over a host of winemaking personalities.

Those present vintners from Antinori, Planeta, Louis Roederer, Chateau Palmer, Grosset and Taylor Fladgate.

Some present were concerned whether or not recent weather phenomena could be ascribed to global warming. David Powell, winemaker at Torbreck in the Barossa Valley, said that no one in Australia was sure if the recent droughts there have been a result of climate change or merely a long-term weather problem.

Others including Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, chef de cave of Champagne house Louis Roderer recently seen touring vineyard sites in the UK, were unconcerned by the two-degree temperature rise over the past eighteen years in the region.

‘Today, global warming in Champagne is a good thing because we have more consistent vintages,’ he said. ‘It’s much easier to ripen Pinot Noir.’

Opinions varied on how to address the situation in the near future. Francesca Planeta stressed the need for planting at higher elevations and concentrating on varietals, such as Nero d’Avola, which have existed for centuries without irrigation in Sicily.

Thomas Duroux, General Manager of Chateau Palmer believes canopy management and the proper choice of rootstocks will be critical.

‘I really do believe that we can find answers in the rootstocks to have a longer phenolic season and to get ripeness even if the weather is warmer,’ he said.

Adrian Bridge of Taylor said that if temperatures continue to rise, their firm would plant more Touriga Nacional, a grape that ‘is better suited to warmer conditions than other Port varieties’.

He echoed Lecaillon’s insousciance saying that the ‘superiority’ of the variety would be ‘good for the overall improvement of quality in the valley’ and that temperature increases were ‘not always negative’.

Written by Tom Hyland

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