. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: It's Getting Hot in Here

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It's Getting Hot in Here

I drank a 2004 Nebbiolo Langhe few weeks ago while I was watching the Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." While I was watching it, a terrible thought crossed my mind; if it gets too warm, what is going to happen with traditional wines like Barolo and Burgundy? They grow in such specifically mild climates and settings, after all;
are these going to be the last vintages of these great wines?
Should I stock and keep them because there is not going to be any more?
Those are terrible thoughts, enough to give me chills as I'm writing. Some things have already changed - for example, the peanut in Italy used to be grown exclusively in the south, because in the north the climate is too cold. Now the peanut is grown widely in the "Pianura Padana," (Piemonte, Lombardia and Veneto) which was unthinkable a decade ago.
I' ve been reading several articles on the subject, and two of them struck me as particularly relevant:
one was about California and how in the next 20 years, with the current trend, the conditions to grow grapes there will no longer exist. In fact, already the alcohol content of most California wines is very high; hotter weather will result in higher sugar content and less water in the grapes. This natural occurrence has advanced to the point where wineries are now investing large sums of money in very expensive Spinning Cone Column machines, or in the painstaking process of reverse osmosis to remove a certain percentage of excess alcohol (euphemistically described by the Conetech Corporation as "volatile flavor components") from wines.
The other article was on the "Repubblica" website and prophesied a pretty sad scenario in the south of Italy's near future; the article analyzed the first effects of global warming in the Mediterranean region, and shows that those effects will likely lead to the loss of some important income sources.
The rising temperature will lead tourism to more northern and cooler areas like Croatia, the north of Italy the Atlantic coast of France, Portugal and Spain. This will almost certainly result in an economic disaster, which will only aid the land's descent toward desertification. The scariest part of the situation is that the region is projected to be just 10 years away from the point of no return, and to invert the process will be very difficult.
Pietro Colla, chief winemaker of Poderi Colla winery told me that in 2006 he harvested his Dolcetto at the beginning of September, almost a month earlier than usual, and that the alcohol measured out to 15 % in some parts of the estate (nearly two points higher than is normal for Dolcetto). Gianluigi Maravalle, owner of Vitalonga estate, told me that the 2006 was among the hottest years in the recent past: but more importantly, he had to delay the pruning of his vines by couple of months because the plants didn't "shut down," or go into dormancy. He also has rose bushes on the side of his property road which are still in bloom at the beginning of February.
Oddly enough, we are not the only ones in the universe experiencing a rapid increase in temperature. Jupiter has now a new "stain", Saturn has a hurricane in his south pole, and the atmosphere of Triton, one of Neptune's satellite, is thickening because of their own global warming.


Tracie B. said...

NO! NOOOO! you're lying. just say that i'm right, my head is quite comfortable in this here sand.

Anonymous said...

Saturn? Triton? Jupiter?

Just don't try to pin THAT on us too. I just don't think a Humvee in LA is having quiiiiite that much of an effect.

Terry @ mondosapore

De Vino said...

I don't think that either.
I'm not really focused on the causes there enought scientists working on it, I just like my barolo medium rare and not well done.

De Vino said...

keep your head were it is...I will join you in a little while.