Harvest time is setting records this year. When most harvests are in September and October, this year parts of France and Italy have begun pulling grapes as early as the first week of August. Last winter, or summer for the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa experienced earlier than normal harvests. So what does this mean in the long run? Well, a few have speculated that it may be just part of a 30 year cycle, but most others are attributing it to global warming. Yes, it's true: there is still a small minority that doubt the merits of that concept. In the long run it means that that as the trend continues, growers will likely need to transition to different grapes.

It's funny how people resist change and others adapt. For example, France is very entrenched in their AOC regulations that growers probably have a snowball's chance in hell of experimenting with other grapes before it is too late. For some, a moving to new grape varieties amounts to giving up their identity. The question then begs itself, can a region preserve its identity and adapt at the same time? Can Alsace for example, retain its identity as a region for Riesling as its climate--its terroir--changes to one that better suits Syrah? A conundrum indeed. Also notable is the fact that Champagne producers have examined growing in England. Who turn is next to face this, Bordeaux?

Will this identities eventually change? I understand identity and tradition as much as the rest, and enjoy Alsatian Riesling as much as the next wine lover; but, identity truly is such an intangible and fluid thing. If you don't believe that, just ask anyone from Champagne, Switzerland or Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy how they feel about identity, especially in the face of European Union labelling laws. Having the name of a grape or a small town on a bottle, as was the case of Tocai Friuli or Champagne, were just as much part of local identity as it is for the regions of Champagne and Tokaji; but every struggle has its losers and winners. What is different with climate though, is you cannot, I am sorry to announce, take the climate to court in Luxembourg. Will we see Cornwall Claret or Stonehenge Brut in the future wine market? How long will it be before the Norwegians are planting Riesling on the slopes of the fjords?

The Washington Post article goes into more detail.


Post a Comment