Planet Rhône

Le journal des vins de la Vallée du Rhône

In the face of climate change, I bet on the ingenuity of winemakers!

"Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône" 2015 - 4/4

Bernard Burtschy, a famous French wine journalist, is very confident. Certainly, wine and our consumption patterns change; however, the world of wine was jumbled more than once during its history. With the arrival of a small ice age in the mid-sixteenth century, with phylloxera devastating European vineyards three centuries later, with the globalization of wine and tastes in the past few decades...

But let's not mix up the issues that influence the winemaking world today.

The first issue, which is probably the fastest and therefore the most visible, deals with the market and our consumption PATTERNS. Because according to Bernard Burtschy, our noses and palates also give in to what is trendy.

“Styles change and come and go in cycles: sweetness yesterday, freshness today, bitter tomorrow, etc.”  It is a force that influences what happens in the world of wine, but does not completely change it.

The second issue is slower, harder to see and understand. It is the winegrowing industry that changes by adapting to the outside world, including the climate. Gradually, step by step.

Do we need to adapt our vineyards by changing the grape varieties? Probably, but we have always done so in the past. Will the so-called "modest" grape varieties play an important role in this change? Possibly, because those who are modest today can become the stars of tomorrow. But don't forget that winemakers have a few cards up their sleeves to deal with the changing climate: different clones and plant material in general, cultivation methods, the ripeness of grapes and the wine-making process demonstrate their ability to create wine under changing climate conditions.

According to Bernard Burtschy, real change in the world of wine and wine-making will come from the inside, from the agricultural world and not from the outside, from the market and popular trends.

“But to make the necessary changes, all of the “appellations d’origine” need people to conduct experiments and bring revival. We need freedom inside the AOCs and less strictness.”