= Changes in Wine by LARRY RUSSO

THERE IS NO disputing significant climate changes taking place in today’s environment. Differences in opionion lie only in the actual underlying causes. Climate change has been with us as long as civilization has had the ability to track it. Sophisticated, modern weather recording devices have added a new dimension to this science, one that critically impacts crop growers worldwide. There are few agrarian ventures subject to the vagaries of climate change that can equal grape growing. Among the hundreds of varieties of grapes grown commercially worldwide, are many that will reflect even the least significant climate change. Unless wine makers react accordingly, not-so-subtle variations will take place in traditional wines during the coming decades. By its very nature the art of making wine

is a slave to annual climate. (Hence the entire system of vintage wines in different years.) If the weather in each geographic area was identical every year there would be no annual vintage distinctions, excepting those artificially created by the wine maker. As a primary example of what may be in store, the 50-degree latitude line has long been the northern limit for viticulture…but even that ephemeral line may change. Wine consumers can take heart…wine producers have initiated some responsive action to preserve their traditional wines’ characteristics. Here are a few:

CANOPY MANAGEMENT: This technique utilizes more grape-leaf shading to protect grapes from the sun. (The fruit can actually be “sunburned.”) Too much shading results in excess moisture which in turn promotes disease. As with all of these techniques, careful monitoring

World’s Rising Temperatures

of fruit-vs.-weather is essential.

CHANGING GRAPE VARIETIES: The objective here is to grow varieties less sensitive to climate change and disease. In France, researchers are studying growth of 52 different varieties, including some from Portugal, Greece and Italy, in an attempt to identify varieties better suited to hotter climates. This research is also tied into experimenting with later ripening varieties.

Site Selection…One method of countering excessive heat is to plant vineyards at higher latitudes or higher elevations, as well as taking advantage of shaded ravines and gulleys. In spite of all efforts to minimize the impact of climate change on wine, the fact remains that altering the terrior, temperature and length of growing season will change the character of the wine. Hopefully the changes will be for the better. Meanwhile, we may have to adjust to a whole new set of wine standards.

Wine of the Month

EVERY SO OFTEN I need to remind myself that “Man does not thrive on Ripple and Thunderbird alone!” During this particular period of self-indulgence, we consumed a bottle of 2006 Vasco Sassetti’s (VS) Brunnello di Montalchino, which I can heartily recommend to one and all. I have a credo that requires me to hold a bottle of Brunnello for a least 10 years. This one was uncorked with our 2017 New Year’s Day feast. This exceptional wine, made from the local Sangiovese Grasso grape in Tuscanny’s historic fortress city, is one of the world’s longest-lived wines. (There are still 1888 and 1891 vintage Brunnellos to be had if you care to re- mortgage your home.)

This Brunello, after several hours of aeration, was typically intense, concentrated and tannic. It is rated at 90 to 92 by a bevy of wine critics. Abv is a hearty 14.5%. A special occasion wine, priced at about $40 at Total Wines.•

Worst Pun of the Month When a train drinks, it “chugs.” • February 2017 •11 Bartram Trail Hike

The Outdoor Adventure Club had 73 Hikers on the Bartram Trail January 14, 2017.•


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