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  Editorial Issue 165, September 2017   
The Future of Vine and WineThe Future of Vine and Wine  Contents 
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The Future of Vine and Wine


 Wine is the result of the evolution of culture, taste and fads which characterized the social aspects of past times. Moreover, it is the result of progress and technologies conceived and developed by man, that is the one who makes and appreciates wine. Nevertheless - and important as well - it is the result of the environment, territory and climate conditions of each single place. All these elements, considered as a whole, brings to the creation of that magic we call wine, the beverage fascinating men since many centuries and which accompanied his evolution. Wine has changed with men, according to their taste and culture, it will unavoidably continue doing so in the future as well. The beverage of Bacchus has also been affected by the changes of environment and climate occurred in the course of centuries, conditions not always determined by the will of Nature, indeed by the consequences of the wickedness of men.


 

 In recent years, the consequences of this wickedness seem to become more and more evident on the territory and environment, including wine, of course. One of the most evident effects can be observed in viticulture. Harvesting of grapes - for example - has been affected by significant changes: the moment of grape picking is today remarkably done in advance than in past years, about two weeks earlier. This is mainly because of the increasing of temperature, the grape ripens in advance and, at the same time, the quantity of sugar in berries is significantly higher. The most obvious consequence - not the only one, of course - is that the increasing of sugar determines a higher quantity of alcohol at the end of fermentation. More sugar also means less acidity, therefore the wine we get is evidently rounder and flatter - as well as more alcoholic - lacking of elegance and certainly being less agreeable and balanced.

 For example, twenty years ago the average alcohol by volume in wines was 12.5%, a value that - at those times - was considered pretty high although common. Today the average value is remarkably increased and no one is surprised to read in labels values as high as 14%. In order to give a better idea of the change, we should consider in order to get a 1% of alcohol by volume in a wine we need about 17 grams of sugar per liter. A value that, it should be noticed, changes according to the type of yeast conducting fermentation and other wine making factors. In order to give an even better idea of what this does mean, it is like adding - for each liter of grape juice - a generous tablespoon of sugar. It is not a negligible quantity, in particular if we consider that sugar is actually replacing the acidic substances in the must. Wine will have a more evident burning effect, it tastes more flat, roundness will be enhanced and the wine will seem to be lacking of that fundamental and “pleasing vivacity” for its balance.

 Consequences of global warming are also making possible and concrete what in the past was considered highly improbable, if not impossible. For a very long time it was in fact believed the Northern area of France was the geographic limit for the cultivation of vine. Beyond that limit climate was too cold and unfavorable for vine, therefore not suited for the cultivation of vineyards. Thanks to global warming, in recent years, viticulture is quite successful in the Southern lands of United Kingdom. This is something, today not considered a rare case anymore, particularly present in South Wales and England, with an interesting production of sparkling wines and other styles. It should be said ancient Romans were cultivating vines in the large island lying beyond the English Channel, however the result they got have never been - of course - satisfactory when compared to the more florid and well suited Gaul, the modern France.

 Some believe there will be a progressive desertification of Southern areas of Europe, with radical changes for the environment and therefore unavoidable changes for agriculture as well. In case this is going to be true, vine would certainly be one of the plants to be affected and will not be suited for the cultivation in this new climate: in those lands vineyards will disappear, including the beverage of Bacchus. In this disgraceful scenario - we strongly hope to never happen - viticulture of Southern Italy would undergo drastic changes. This is incredible if we think ancient Greeks called these lands - in particular what we call today Calabria - rich of grapes and giving good wine, Enotria Tellus, the land of vines and wine. The famous and elegant terroirs of France would also be affected by these changes. In particular the magnificent and amazing lands of Burgundy, generous of very elegant and inimitable red wines from Pinot Noir and, nevertheless, Champagne with its renowned bubbles. Like to say - by quoting the words of Aristodemus, from the same name tragedy written by Vincenzo Monti - “if Messenia is weeping, Sparta is not laughing”.

 Because of the future changes we are very likely and unavoidably to face - while hoping men can find a solution before worse consequences could happen - some are remedying things differently. In Australia, for example, in recent times, vintners are replacing the so called international varieties with those common in warmer Mediterranean areas. It seems some are considering replacing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah with Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Sagrantino, varieties clearly more suited for warm climates. A change also suggested by the well known enterprising spirit of Australian wine making that, having no traditional “burden” to carry on, they never had problems in adopting new varieties and wine making techniques from other countries. The problem is serious - indeed, very serious - and it is of course banal saying “we need to do something”. We do not in fact need of the efforts and good will of each one of us, as this is - undoubtedly - a problem requiring a choral action from everybody, in particular those having political powers. As this is something happened because of the stupid selfishness and wickedness of man, it would be the very least to prove we still have some intelligence and wisdom which can be defined like so. And we should also prove we can make a good use of them. And even in a hurry.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 165, September 2017   
The Future of Vine and WineThe Future of Vine and Wine  Contents 
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