Anyone know any Norwegian? No? Right, well a bit of translation is in order then! I’ve been spending a few days with my in-laws and they’ve taught me a bit more slang. Roughly translated it means “it’s shit warm!” Apparently a lot of people use it as an expression, although I’m not going to test it too far just in case they’re winding me up!
I’m not sure this would rank as a crisis for most people, but for me, a light skinned British lad, it is! I’m spending the summer out in Bordeaux and Piemonte and it is off-the-scale hot!! I’ve been just outside of Asti for about a week now, and it’s been knocking on the door of 40 degrees Celsius everyday. I often joke about bankrupting myself on factor 50 sun cream, but I’m not laughing right now. I’m going through it like it’s going out of fashion!
But that’s not the crisis I’m going on about. The crisis here is for the wines and they’re two fold. Firstly is the immediate problem. Is it too hot for the vintage? In Bordeaux the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon will ripen no worries, but will they have the subtlety of flavour of the top vintages? Worse still in Piemonte, where Nebbiolo (the grape that goes into the King and Queen of Italian reds, Barolo and Barbaresco) usually needs to wait on the vine for the autumn fogs to pick up real charachter.
The probable answer is no. Advances in canopy management and winemaking techinques that require only ripe grapes to make lovely wines will come into their own. We’re going to get powerful fruit bombs that, if enough acidity comes through, will make top wines.
Secondly, at what point do all the great wine producing regions start thinking more seriously about climate change. I know most are already, but is that to be accelerated? It’s undoubtedly getting hotter of the years. The wine industry in the UK is booming because of it. There were even vineyards in Scotland harvesting last year!
Will Burgundy need to rip up its Pinot Noir to replace it with Syrah? Will hot weather grapes like Grenache and Mouvedre creep across the Mediterranean coast in greater volume than before?
A full on crisis? Maybe not just yet. But within 20 years the best in class in Europe will have to embrace the change, or join us redheads in a race for shelter from the baking sun!