"There are two sides to every coin," as the saying goes. This is also the case when international viticulture is viewed from the perspective of climate change.
A great deal is changing right now. Extreme weathers, such as hail and heatwave summers, are apparently increasing. It seems to be getting warmer. The world of wine is in a state of flux. New "heat-resistant" grape varieties are being tested in Bordeaux. Alvarinho, Petit Maseng, Touriga Nacional and four other heat-resistant grape varieties may soon be grown in small quantities. England is becoming increasingly interesting for sparkling wine production. The qualities of British sparkling wines are improving from year to year. For example, Nyetimber (Hall 13, Stand B 48) is certainly one of the leading specialists for sparkling wines from the UK.
It is an exciting and challenging time, especially for winemakers in Germany. While the heatwave year of 2003 was still an exceptional vintage, warm/hot years are now almost the rule. Winegrowers are learning to deal with it better every time. Work on vineyards is changing. Earlier harvests are the order of the day. In some regions, grapes were picked six weeks earlier in 2018 than ten years ago but with the same maturity. A change in the pruning and completely different vineyard management to what most winegrowers learned is now necessary. It is getting better from year to year. Germany is currently one of the wine countries benefiting from this. The red wines are constantly improving. International grape varieties such as Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are ripening much better and producing very good wines. I see a great future for Syrah in particular in Germany in combination with the slate soils.
Weingut Spiess from Bechtheim/Rheinhessen (Hall 14, Stand D 39) has been proving for years that Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Germany can also taste wonderful. This year they are presenting their 2017 Syrah R at ProWein – one of the best I have tasted so far from Germany in terms of Syrah.
Other countries and regions such as the south of France, parts of Spain and Portugal or Italy are suffering greatly from the heat and drought. In Spain, for example, I am liking the wines from Galicia more and more. This cool part of Spain is also producing better and better wines and benefiting from climate warming.