Robert Pincus is the author of extensive research published some time ago on Gastronomica, a journal of food and culture, published by University of California Press.
In the long article – which can be read in its original, full version here – examines the question of the identity of wine in relation to climate change.
In Europe, begins Pincus, the taste of a wine is strongly connected to the place where it is produced. Centuries of research and study have generated ideas about grape varieties and cultivation techniques that provide a unique regional character to the wine. Recently, however, commercial pressures are pushing for a greater production of wine causing more uniformity in taste and less and less specificity. But there is also an additional long-term threat to the traditional link between the wine and its place of production. Climate change, the result of the industrial revolution and population growth will erode all these years of experimentation and study on wine production. Because of global warming, preserving the link between territory and wine becomes more and more difficult.
Viticulture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change because some decisions can take years to see their results. If a grower chooses the replanting of a vineyard with a variety most thermophilic, for example, this will take three to four years to bear fruit, and at least a decade or more for the production of high quality grapes. This delay between the action and the result is a matter of great pressure for growers, who need to understand the ways in which the climate may change over the years and prevent it so that they can think some adaptation strategies.
Some wine makers believe that the climate has already changed in recent decades, and the statistics show a trend toward early flowering and harvest.
But there is also those who argue that global warming may have contributed to a better wine, although this is difficult to discern it from improvement in production techniques. The climate of the last ten years has certainly had an effect on the character of the wines, making them as much as possible rich and tasty (or at least more alcoholic) almost everywhere in the world.
For the Chianti region, the consequences are not to be outdone. These effects are constantly monitored and studied in order to look for the most effective solutions in favor of a product that is of high quality. Moreover, in some cases, such as the Sangiovese, grapes ripen slowly and need heat to complete their growing cycle. This has led to the production of wines more enjoyable, less acidic, less tannic and in some way in line with the a more contemporary taste.