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Hi, I'm a Master of Wine (MW) having passed in 1997. I am about to open a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library and this is my wine blog. There should be no conflict of interest between my work with The Wine Library and the opinions expressed herein but I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy. From June 2013 until May 2017 I was the Retail Manager for The Wicklow Wine Company. I was a member of the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events, Trips and Governance Committees Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A new world of wine



Session 2 opened Friday’s programme, exceptionally well moderated by John Hoskins MW, took up the topic of climate change and how it affects the world of wine. The panel consisted of Prof. Greg Jones, a climatologist and winemaker from Oregon, Dr José Voillamoz, a geneticist and one third of J3 (the authors of Wine Grapes – Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW being the other two-thirds), Christophe Salin, President of Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) and Frank Cornelissen a winemaker on Etna.

Greg opened with some information on climate change. Did you know that of the top 14 warmest years on record 13 of those have occurred this century? Did you know that 2013 was the 4th warmest year since records began? Did you know that the last 20 years have all been warmer than the mean temperature for the 20th century? Did you know that if you were born after April 1985 you have NEVER lived through a month which was cooler than the global average?
Among the problems identified was the simple fact that as humans are very adaptable we barely notice the small changes which occur but that the environment (e.g plants, pathogens) do and the changes can be profound for them.
José then explained about how varieties change and gave some very interesting information about cultivars (a collection of human-selected clones originating from a single vine which we name e.g. pinot or chardonnay) and showed some interesting information about the planting changes over the last
But the changing world isn’t just about adjusting and adapting to climate change, it’s also about changes in regions of origin. Christophe gave a fascinating insight into how DBR went from buying Duhart-Milon in1962 to now having partnerships and projects in the Languedoc, Chile, Argentina and China. In each case the decisions were based on determining what they could do using knowledge already gained in new regions – so in China they are working on a cabernet-shiraz blend as they believe this blend is one of the most accessible blend for consumers worldwide.
Frank has a winery in one of the most unusual locations – Mt Etna in Sicily. A little known fact is that Sicily has both the earliest and the latest harvests in Italy: the earliest is for Marsala, the latest is for grapes grown on Etna at quite high altitudes. He represents one of the more exciting aspects of the Italian wine business at the moment – pushing boundaries and trying new locations and varieties.
All in all, again the time was too short but there is a lot of food for thought in relation to climate change but the evidence from Christophe and Frank was that if we are prepared to explore new regions and grapes there is plenty of scope for exciting wines in the future.

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