Monday, 28 September 2009

Some like it hot

French wine lovers - and Greenpeace in particular (though it is unlikely many of us had them marked down in this category) are warning that global warming may see off the wines of Meursault, Montrachet and Volnay. If global warming continues at is current rate the temperature will be six degrees warmer on average by the end of the century. Already between 1996 and 2008 the time taken for grapes to mature in Burgundy has reduced by ten from fifty to forty days. This is distinctly serious for such a prestigious area, where the length of time taken to fruit maturity is very important for finesse and complexity. France loses this at its peril! No wonder a group of chefs, sommeliers and winemakers wrote to 'Le Monde' in August to insist that Nicolas Sarkosy push for a strong agreement on climate change. He would probably be all the more motivated if they were to mention that, should it come to pass, Southern Britain is likely to be a major beneficiary of this particular bit of climate change...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Record price for Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon

It is true that we do not unfortunately have stocks of Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon1965 and 1967, which achieved record prices at the recent South African Nederberg wine auction, but we do have stocks of a rather later but almost as delicious 2004 vintage at just £7.29 a bottle!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Bring on the Clones

Carmenère is the grape that may well have originated in the Médoc. After the phylloxera outbreak the 1880s it was not replanted. Chile however had been supplied with vines earlier in the century and had no phylloxera problem (indeed still doesn't) and is now the home of far and away the largest quantities of Carmenère vines, such that it is now considered a (so called) signature variety for the country. Even so it is remarkable how it can add an attracrive depth to a Cabernet Sauvignon as in the Terra Mater version. Perhaps this should be unsurprising in view of its Médoc heritage!
With a view to improve quality - some single variety Carmenères can be a bit 'grassy' or 'herbaceous' the Chilean government is funding the University of Talca to try and discover the best clone. But again the attitude is very wise "We don't want to completely lose the green or peppery character, otherwise it won't be Carmenere" says the university. Hear, hear - a clone but not cloned!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Chilean Sustainability

The University of Talca in Chile is attempting to put forward a programme for sustainability, which is "more than organics". Although Chile is a country admirably suited to organic viticulture, being protected from pests and pestilence by both the Pacific Ocean to the West and the Andes mountains to the East it is admirable that there is a realisation that producing organically grown grapes can count for very little, particularly if, say, the vineyard contributes to soil erosion, intrusive irrigation or large energy use. Hats off to the Chileans for some good work on the complete picture!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Seriously folks..

A professor of oceanography and statistics (an odd combo - but at least the second is relevant) who also happens to own a small winery in California's Humboldt County decided to study wine competitions after seeing his own wines win in some events and yet get no awards in others. He has upset many by discovering that this alarming inconsisitency in the way his own wines were rated was the norm. His suggestion that the competitions were pretty self serving has not gone down well in the sunshine state!
It is interesting to compare with the UK's own International Wine Challenge, where not only is it the world's biggest competition but anecdotally is fairly consistent. The stupidity is that the long embargo on the results often means that the wine has changed considerably since it was judged and in one or two cases sold out! The add- ons of Wine Merchant of the Year are though similarly self serving, indeed companies propose themselves in true unbiased fashion! The panoply of competitions is however likely to be much enhanced if the BMA get their way for a ban on alcohol advertising. This would be one of the minor drawbacks of what would otherwise be a very good thing. Alcohol probably needs to be made more serious..

France back as top dog

It seems that France after faltering last year, is set to be the world's number one wine producer again. Spain's production is well down this year, by 4%, Italy's - last year's top producer - production will be little changed whilst France's production is scheduled to increase by 12%. According to a study by the Milan based Italian Wines Union, France is due to produce 48.1 million hectolitres of wine. Can the world keep up?