The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 70 of 120

70 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 { viticulture } WHILE CLIMATE CHANGE IS BRINGING THE EARTH LONG-TERM WARMING IN average temperatures, the recent state of the climate is pointing to increased variability from a wildly fluctuating jet stream and Arctic amplification, conditions that pose the most immediate risk for winegrowers. During a thought-provoking session on climate change hosted by swissnex, an annex of the Swiss consulate that connects the dots in research, education and innovation between the U.S. and Switzerland, climatologist Gregory Jones presented a snapshot of the global climate scenario and the near-term challenges faced by the wine industry in navigating climate variation. Jones, who is Director of Business, Communication and the Environment at Southern Oregon University, was joined by Professor René Roger, who teaches enology and beverage management at Switzerland's École Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), and at Washington State University's Executive Master's program, with an industry perspective. To further demonstrate the effects of climate variation on winegrowing, wines from England, Germany and Turkey were selected by swissnex's Ilona Tschopp. Upon arriv - ing, guests were served a sparkling wine blind and then asked by Tschopp to guess its origin. Most mistook the 2008 Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve as Champagne, but the wine was produced from vineyards in Kent and West Sussex, England—regions only capable of consistently ripening Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier within the last ten years. "As average global temperatures continue to creep upward, the wine industry must take steps to minimize vulnerability and be poised to adapt," said Jones who sees climate variability posing more challenges for producers than the inevitable long-term change. "Within the last ten years we've seen more climate extremes than we have in the last 40." The longer duration of warm cycles means increased soil temperatures and reduced frost tolerance, factors that will push the limits for varieties like Pinot Noir that have a narrow optimum zone for quality of 4 degrees F. But, according to Jones, it's not all gloom and doom. Winegrowers can adapt and it's possible to reduce risk through vineyard architecture, variety and root stock choices and the increased use of water. Roger's in-depth survey of opinion-leading wine producers—including Paul Pontallier, Director of Château Margaux; Bruno Prats; Olivier Humbrecht, MW, of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht; and Philippe Guigal, CEO of Domaine Guigal—on the effects of climate change was controversial. The majority viewed winegrowing and winemaking practices as having a greater impact on their wines than variations in climate. However, Guigal, citing that his wines have no difficulty reaching 13.5 percent alcohol, was the only producer to attribute increasing temperatures, which have eliminated the need to chapitalize his wines since 1985, directly to climate change. According to Humbrecht, biodynamic winegrowing practices are proving to be the most readily adaptive to climate variation. In conclusion, Roger pointed to the influence that resilient yeasts are having on wine flavor profiles and the preference of emerging consumers for stronger more forward flavors in wine as signs of things to come. Professor René Roger from Switzerland's École Hôtelière de Lausanne, swissnex's Ilona Tschopp and climatologist Gregory Jones from Southern Oregon University examined the impact of climate variation on the world of wine. WINES AND CLIMES With over 800 indigenous variet- ies and evidence of 10,000 years of grape-growing culture, Turkey represents a virtually untapped resource for ancient varieties and new cultivars. Guldal "GiGi" Lindberg, who recently founded Meritaj to import wines from Turkey to the U.S., poured Gulor's Sayeste Okuzgozu, a variety indigenous to the region in Anatolia where wild vitis vinifera originated, and a G-Silver Okuzgozu-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. Importer Tom Elliot from Northwest Wines provided further evidence of climate variation with the Nelles Nelles 2011 "Ruber" Spätburgunder trocken, a Pinot Noir "Ruber" Spätburgunder Trocken, a Pinot Noir from the increasingly warm Ahr region and the Michael Fröhlich 2010 Escherndorfer Lump Silvaner Spätlese trocken from Franconia. Elliot too questions, "Is it warming or is it work?" Citing the strict rules of the German Verband Deutscher Prädikats (VDP) he said, "There has never been work [in the vineyard] like there is today." Beyond the Optimum Zone CLIMATE VARIATION GIVES US ENGLISH BUBBLES AND EXTREME CYCLES story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong

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