Climate change threatens champagne production, but wineries use ‘smart genetics’ to stave off problems

champagne vineyards in the montagne de reims area of the marne
Image Credit: VideoBlocks

In the cold, chalky cellars deep underground at boutique Champagne house A.R. Lenoble, co-owner Antoine Malassagne shares his worries about the future of the region’s world-famous fizz. Its classic style depends on …. deep, chalky soil and an until-now very cool climate.

But here’s his question: How can the taste we love stay the same in the face of climate change?

“Harvest is two weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago,” he explains …. “It used to be mid-to-late September. Now harvest often starts in August …. But maturity during hot days and nights results in lower and lower acidity in the grapes, which means less freshness in the wines.” It’s also essential to Champagne’s taste ….

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Champagne Bruno Paillard is experimenting with covering the soil in vineyards with straw to prevent sunlight from destroying microbial life. Others are using winemaking techniques such as blocking malolactic fermentation (the second fermentation in the barrel that converts fresh-tasting malic acid to softer lactic acid) to bring greater perceived acidity to the wine.

Over breakfast in Reims, Thibaut Le Mailloux, the communications director of the [Comité Champagne (CIVC) trade association], outlined …. a team effort with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research to invent new hybrid grape varieties that will ripen more slowly in warmer conditions and be more resistant to pests.

Read full, original article: Is Climate Change Coming for Your Champagne?

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