Just when we thought the dreaded topic of global warming and climate change was impacting sea levels and the environment, here’s another twist to the sordid tale. The champagne industry seems to be quite impacted by this issue as well. If you’re wondering just how, here’s an analysis.
A increase in temperatures and earlier harvests in the renowned wine-making region are producing grapes with less acid, and acid is important for both the aging process and the freshness of the famous sparkling wine, hence affecting the overall taste of bubbly.
“Harvest is two weeks earlier than it was 20 years ago,” Champagne house A.R. Lenoble co-owner Antoine Malassagne told Bloomberg News.
Of course, taste is key and champagne makers have long added reserve wines to enhance the taste of their vintages. Different wine makers are adopting various techniques to battle the issue.
While Malassange is specifically designing reserves to add “freshness” by preserving them using natural cork, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon of famous champagne label Louis Roederer is working to make grapes more resilient to warmer temperatures and the diseases and pests that they help spread. And, other champagne makers are covering soil with straw to preserve microbes in the soil and blocking the second round of fermentation in the wine barrel in order to preserve acidity.
“We invented bubbles to make up for unripe grapes. As farmers, our job, our life, our passion has been to adapt to climate change for hundreds of years. If the future heats up too much,” Lecaillon said. “We’ll just have to make Burgundy.”
Thankfully, the region as a whole is greatly concerned with the threat of climate change. In 2003, the region debuted as the first wine-growing region to calculate its carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it. The outcome was a 15 percent reduction in emissions per bottle shipped.