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BBC The Food Chain - Tasting Climate Change

Ruth Alexander

17 Apr 2022

To listen to the radio programme where Sally talks about the impact of climate change on Bordeaux wine making: Click here

Additional content: Article "We are making wine in Norway"

[...] In Bordeaux, this changing climate is palpable, according to the owner of Chateau George 7 in Fronsac, Sally Evans.

"We've had three spring frosty periods in the last five years since I've been here. And before that, probably they hadn't had one for 20 or 30 years. So these extreme climatic events seem to be more and more common. And that is what is difficult."

She says global rising temperatures can also be tasted in a glass of wine.

"When you've got warmer temperatures, the fruit ripens and there's a lot more sugar in the grapes, which gives you higher alcohol when you ferment. The alcohol in wine probably has increased by about two degrees over the last 30 years.

"The sun and the warmth also impacts the acidity of the wine. You need the acidity for the freshness and the overall balance."

Hot, dry summers can also impair the flavour of the fruit, she says.

The Bordeaux wine region has introduced new grape varieties which are more suited to these conditions, but Sally says they will take a generation to grow and mature.

In the meantime, she says winemakers are adapting - pruning late to avoid Spring frosts and managing the leaf canopy to shade grapes from the hot sun.

And she says consumers and producers alike will have to accept that some established wines will have a different character in the future.

"What is typical in 30 years may not be worse, in terms of quality - it may even be better - but it may not be the same profile as a wine now."

Climate change means producers need to adapt to survive, she says.

"I think we'll be seeing in the next five or 10 years, just how that is impacting people and their livelihoods here in Bordeaux.

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