Tags Posts tagged with "Cool Climate"

Cool Climate

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Viticulture in a Marginal Climate

With the return of interest in wines of freshness, energy, and more delicate presentation, interest in cool climate wines has also increased. Without a formal definition, the idea of cool climate gets applied generously to regions around the world. Climate classification systems based on growing degree days and mean temperature indexes provide only limited insight into the actual growing conditions of a region. Many regions commonly referred to as cool climate host daytime temperatures reaching highs comparable to recognized warmer climates, allowing plenty of ripeness for the right varieties.

Genuinely cool climates, however, tend to successfully grow only varieties that ripen earlier, before temperatures drop. Temperatures at harvest are often quite a bit cooler than those during the peak of the growing season, slowing metabolic processes in the vine. The temperature of the fruit itself at harvest is usually lower as well.

As winegrowing has extended into more regions around the globe, it has also pushed further into the edges of possible winegrowing. Such expansion has changed our views of viticulture. We’ve realized we can grow in more extreme conditions than previously believed. At the same time, these changes have required us to develop our understanding of how to more successfully grow in truly marginal climates.

But what are the conditions of a marginal climate?

To keep reading this article head on over the GuildSomm.com where it is free for all to read. The rest of the article considers the unique growing conditions of a marginal climate, and then looks at the fundamental viticulture needs of growing in that sort of environment. 

Here’s the direct link: 

https://www.guildsomm.com/public_content/features/features/b/elaine-chukan-brown/posts/marginal-climate-viticulture

Whoops! I made a mistake on the time this post will publish – the post is available to read now. My apologies for the confusion!

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What Makes a Cool Climate? Keynote from Ian D’Agata, i4C+ 2016

Ian d'Agata

i4C+ 2016 Keynote Speaker Ian d’Agata

Ian D’Agata opened this year’s International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration with greetings in Italian. The venerable wine writer heralds originally from Canada and has devoted his life since to understanding Italian wine. Most recently, in 2015 his book Native Wine Grapes of Italy was awarded wine book of the year by the prestigious Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards. At Vinous.com, D’Agata serves as Senior Editor and Head of Development for Europe & Asia. He has stands as a self-described champion of Canadian wine.

In his keynote address, D’Agata considered the notion of a cool climate, asking what the nomenclature means without formal definition. As he pointed out, regions that count as cool climates in the world of wine “get just as hot at the peak of the season” as other warm climates of the world but, importantly, cool climate temperatures drop more quickly approaching harvest. Grapes at harvest, then, are picked at a different point in the arc of ripening “insuring the wines taste differently” than those from fruit selected at higher temperatures.

He pointed out that growing degree days and mean temperature indexes offer only rudimentary insight into the growing conditions of a region. Instead, a latitude index also being integrated into degree day measurements offer additional insight. D’Agata emphasized the challenges of classifying cool climate regions as no single measurement can discern them from other climate types. He pointed out that factors such as diurnal shift, solar radiation, soil type and its drainage, the average length of a growing season and the demand to plant for heat conservation are all relevant considerations. Cool climates, as he pointed out, limit grape ripening and include the sincere threat of damage to the vines in the winter due to weather.

When considering the wines themselves, D’Agata explains that “the hallmarks of cool climate wines” include high perceived acidity, brightness, freshness, crispness, minerality and that these characteristics “tend to be achieved naturally without excessive intervention.” Flavors, D’Agata mentioned from cool climate wines tend to include notes like citrus, melon, minerality and salinity. He also pointed out that to some degree cellar interventions can adulterate otherwise cool climate wines. In his view excessively apparent oak and overall flabbiness to the wine tend to hide cool climate character.

As he continued, D’Agata questioned the degree to which these hallmarks of a cool climate can be achieved in otherwise warmer regions. The implication was that generally speaking it is harder to capture the constellation of qualities common to cooler climates simply by picking earlier (for example) in a warmer one. At the same time, he acknowledged that no growing region is homogenous. In any region there may be specific mesoclimates with unique soil, drainage, aspect, and temperature etc that when all in balance deliver cooler character in an otherwise warmer clime.

With all of this in mind, D’Agata noted that truly understanding cool climate regions depends on considering latitude, growing degree days and expression in the wines themselves.

Finally, and in recognition to our event hosts, D’Agata emphasized that in his view Chardonnays from Canada really are world class. He pointed out that he can speak to how wines of the region have improved and the industry has grown since the late 1980s and early 1990s when “it was much harder going” tasting the wines. At the time, “I was very proud to bring back Ontario wines to my wine snob friends in Italy,” he joked. He continued, “and they would laugh me out of the room.” But when he brings back wines of Canada to taste with his friends in Rome today, he says, “I tell you, they’re not laughing anymore.” The wines today are good.

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