Climate change and the consumer’s role cropped up alongside the effects on viticulture and vinification in the ICCWS briefing at the 2015 London Wine Fair
‘There’s also something I call “cool climate thinking”,’ said Dr Jamie Goode. ‘In a warm climate you might be thinking “How can I make balanced wines”.’ Goode was speaking at the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium briefing at the 2015 London Wine Fair, back in May, at London Olympia.
With just over a year to go, delegates at the 2015 London Wine Fair enjoyed a taster of the sorts of topics and discussions to be had at the 2016 ICCWS. Following an introduction by Justin Howard Sneyd MW, Laithwaites, and ICCWS committee member, Goode, himself a speaker, took over the chair, moderating a dialogue between Willi Klinger, head of marketing at Wines of Austria, and Kevin Sutherland, winemaker at Bluebell Wines.
Discussions ranged widely, from the likely impact of climate change – the wine band of the northern hemisphere looks set to move north, and the southern, south – via the effect on both the vine in the field and the wine in the glass, through to the marketing of the product.
A definition of ‘cool climate’ proved as elusive as ever. More than purely heat summation stats, this affected every element of the grape’s journey, including the final stages of ripening, for example. What was certain was that new processes are needed, whether they be new winemaking techniques for wines with less sugar, different yeast strains, or modified canopy management to deal with the changing microclimates.
Even slight increases in temperature have meant less marginal years. ‘In the 1970s, four or five vintages were a problem,’ said Klinger. Sutherland agreed. ‘Twenty years ago there were more years where we would have more poor crops,’ he said, before adding: ‘But there are challenges. As we get warmer we are going to have more summers with higher humidity.’
While ‘traditional’ cool climate regions have included the likes of the Wachau, Oregon, Yarra and Elgin as well as Champagne and the Mosel, climate change is bringing others to the fore. Central Otago, Tasmania, Elim and Leyda may already be on the map, Canada and England and Wales more recently so, but places such as Tibet, Belgium and Scandinavia are less well known in wine terms.
The market will continue to play a vital role. ‘Cool climate wine conditions have been a key factor in the growth of Austrian wines,’ said Klinger. But could today’s cooler climate wines take advantage of the move away from big 14° abv wines?
So, even in one hour, the London Wine Fair seminar raised more questions than it answered. For your chance to be part of the conference reviewing the global progress on this vital and fascinating patch of the wine world, book your ticket to the 2016 ICCWS.