Is it just me – or is the subject of the climate discussed much more in the wine world than just a few years ago? Of course it has always been an essential part of wine production.
But in the past, guests seemed to be satisfied with the fact that Apulia is warmer than Rheinhessen and therefore different grape varieties and styles exist. Today, topics such as harvest times and foliage work are no longer a rarity. This may be due on the one hand to the heightened awareness for climate change, but on the other hand it is certainly also due to end consumers being more enlightened. A certain amount of attention paid to this issue is certainly desirable. Nevertheless, we cannot always attribute everything to climate change. Trends in the world of wine, oenological knowledge and techniques, as well as new grape varieties such as PiWis are also bringing about change.
In my home region I am booked again and again for wine tastings, which present wines from the North Sea Islands. The most northern vines in Germany are currently situated at home on Sylt and with our neighbours on Föhr. Of course, the topic of climate is often an important part of this. It must be said, however, that viticulture on the islands has not primarily been made possible by higher temperatures, but due to the Solaris and Johanniter varieties. It would not have worked with Pinot Gris. So climate change is just one factor.
I run the "Concept Riesling" company with a business partner in Düsseldorf. As the name suggests, the focus is strongly on the most important grape variety in our domestic growing areas. The demand for very sparse and mineral Rieslings has recently increased noticeably, especially in the top segment. While juicy opulence and yellow-fruity aromas were still in demand a few years ago, the scene now seems to be demanding more and more straightforwardness and herbalism. This is of course rather a contrary development to warmer temperatures. Now it is up to the winemakers to get this style into the bottle.
Foliage management, humus build-up and yield reduction ensure a healthy balance of acidity and Oechsle degrees, as well as physiological maturity. Important values, if you are aiming for an early harvest. I talked to Carolin Spanier from the Weingut Kühling-Gillot (Hall 14, Stand E 46) about her dry farming approach, in which she protects the soils on the Red Slope with straw, which keeps the moisture under the straw layer in summer.
Nevertheless, this is just the beginning. The next step is the relocation of viticulture. Towards cooler climates, higher altitude areas, new countries and finally other grape varieties. Philipp vom Zehnthof Luckert (Hall 14/ Frankenwein, Stand D 86) recently told me how happy he was that his best location, Maustal, was not purely south facing but also pointed to the east.
We sommeliers and merchants are now being called upon to help manage this turnaround. To take the customer by the hand and show them the new locations and appellations. Slowly replacing old values with new ones in people's minds. It is important to avoid panic-mongering and to act objectively. And of course to continue to emphasise the fun in drinking wine.