Bordeaux winemakers and oenologists say the wines of 2050 may be fruitier, may not age as well as they do now, and may have lower alcohol content.
Image from: Wine Drinking Bridge
If temperatures in the Bordeaux region rise by 2 to 4 degrees by 2050 (as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the quality of Bordeaux wines could be a major disappointment, says winemaker and oenologist Pascal Chatonnet.
Chatonnet cultivated Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes in warm southern climates (Languedoc - Roussillon and Tunisia) and successfully simulated the cultivation of Bordeaux in the period 2050. He was commissioned by a French environmental organization to use a 1:1 blend of these two grapes to predict future changes in Bordeaux wines.
Chatonnet told the French news site: At the moment, the consequences of climate change for wine are very optimistic. For example, when we get to a summer like the one in India, the wines we produce will adjust to the temperature of the year. But if we face the effects of large-scale warming, then the quality of the wine we produce may be greatly reduced, and we have never produced a high-quality product in an extreme climate.
He found the 2050 wines: very soft on the palate, but almost syrupy, while the nose is very ripe with fruit aromas, almost like jam. Although one would expect higher temperatures to increase the alcohol content of the wine, it is also possible that the alcohol content will drop from the current typical 14-15% to 13.5% as the grapes ripen more quickly, he said.
But he also expresses his concern about the alcohol, as the grapes ripen faster at higher temperatures, the wines will age less well and some of the subtle flavors will fade away, says Chattonnet: As the grape ripening cycle accelerates, we may lose a lot of the flavors that we should have had.
Although the results of his experiments are far from certain about the future of Bordeaux wines, they are a timely reminder that climate change is silently affecting the quality of our most beloved wines.
Chattonnet said: "This is an important warning that we should take seriously, because at this moment, the grapes we plant here in 2018 will be the wine of 2050.