Aug 6, 201410:30 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Global Warming (Cont.)

Global warming and its effect on wine production.

That "cont." reference in the headline is a two-fold notation. The first meaning is the usual, continued, which refers to the fact that we have discussed this topic before. And then there's the second meaning, continuing, and that is the story noting global warming is not going away. 
 
I don't want to get all balled up in the causes of global warming. It could be a natural circumstance of this living planet, Earth. Change is the order of nature. Or global warming could indeed be as nefarious as hosting too many humans with too much gaseous emissions. And we can't discount cow farts. Why would we want to? If we have to assess blame, and it seems we must, then livestock , having no grasp of  human language, nor thumbs, seems to be an excellent scapegoat, ...er, scapecow. 
 
Anyway, denial of global warming is no longer the popular path. Maybe you are still not "sold" that global warming is occurring, but undeniably, something is going on. At this point, the empirical evidence is not completely overwhelming, yet there are trends and that is what has some scientists yelling that the sky is falling, literally. We are all of a mind, however, that whatever is going on, and there is always something going on, is moving at a slow pace, not racing towards cataclysm. But, if something is going on, and to a few folks that is a very big "if", it would be better to do something rather than nothing, just in case. 
 
So far, to me, the best evidence comes from agriculture. Grapes, of course. Grapes are very sensitive mirrors of their surroundings. A grape remembers and reflects every single day of its existence in the vineyard. If it is too hot, the grape responds by speeding up its ripening; too cold and the process goes slower. Too much rain, and the resulting fruit can be flabby in quality, and not enough rain, the aroma and taste structure will be off balance with too much sugar or too high a tannin component or not enough acid. 
 
I mention all of this because grape growers in important winemaking locations, like Tuscany in Italy, or Bordeaux in France, or Napa Valley in California are all on record that record books are out the window. "Normal" harvests are no longer the norm. More often than not, the roller coaster ride that is agriculture is exacerbated, sometimes to the point where wine doctors are called in to try and rescue the crop or the young juice. With only one chance a year to make wine, any screw-up could jeopardize the existence of the business.
 
The origin of this mild rant was an article noting the changing pattern of bark development of cork trees in Portugal. Not completely earth shattering news, I will admit, but another bit of information on top of many other bits. Like the fact that Great Britain is now making sparkling wine on that sceptered isle from grapes grown there by a few of the more prestigious Champagne houses. Or maybe you will listen to producers of Chianti Classico wines in Tuscany who are experiencing earlier harvests over the past ten to twenty years. Same is true in Napa Valley in California. There has even been some talk that both prime grape growing regions could be unfit for such activities in as near as fifty years. 
 
Then there is the interesting case affirmed in the results of a recent wine competition in which I had the honor of judging a good number of the 2200 entries from around the world. 
 
The Indiana International Wine Competition, INDY, is staged every June at Purdue University, a school of considerable renown in West Lafayette, Indiana. The oenology department at that esteemed institution of higher learning ranks among the most prestigious in the US. 
 
It is also worth noting that they have a pretty good football team and have made a major contribution to our beloved Saints in the person of Drew Brees, who is a graduate of Purdue, and still a much loved figure around their Ivy League-style campus. Drew took a number of wine courses during his days of quarterbacking the Purdue Boilermakers so he knows his way around a wine glass and a corkscrew. Oh, and Purdue’s school colors are black and gold. Getting spooky, isn’t it? 
 
At any rate, at INDY, there were two top wines that deserve discussion in light of this topic of global warming. The winner of the top award for French-American Grape Rosé was Carlos Creek Winery, using the Frontenac varietal. And winner for White French American category was Saint Croix Winery for their 2013 Vignoles wine. Both of these award-winning wines are from….wait for it…..Minnesota.
 
Both of the grapes are hybrids (grapes developed for specific installations from other grape varietals) and both were developed for the conditions present in cooler climates. The great news is that not only were the lab experiments and the vineyard plantings successful, but the product emerging from the winery after fermentation is a winner. 
 
Most importantly, these wines are winners overall and they are from a very cool climate, with the wines demonstrating amazing and interesting fruit characters, fine balance, good acidity and surprising length of finish. From Minnesota, no less. That blows me away. 
 
So while we talk of global warming, oftentimes it’s actually climate rearranging. If quality grapes for sparkling wines can be grown in England and if award winning wines can be created completely in Minnesota, then clearly something is happening. For some areas it may be a wonderful result, as demonstrated in these examples, but there are likely other plants and even animals that won’t benefit to a good extent. 
 
The bottom line is that there are weather pattern changes. Grapes don’t lie.
 
The second lesson is that maybe you should not be so fast to turn down that glass of wine from Iowa, Minnesota, or Michigan.  
 
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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

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In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

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