Champagnois Looking For Hybrid Grape To Tackle Climate Change

In response to the effects of global warming, winemakers in the Champagne region are exploring the possibility of introducing a new hybrid grape to the blend.

Over the past 20 years, vineyards have moved harvest dates ahead by two weeks amid fears that rising temperatures will harm the traditional grape varieties which rely on cold temperatures and a chalky soil.

In a bid to futureproof the industry, winemakers are researching how to create a new grape that can resist higher temperatures and mature more slowly.

A warmer climate will mean more sugar and less acidity in the grapes, either or both of which will radically change the style of Champagne as we know it today. 

It is hoped the a new hybrid of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier  will also cut the risk of mildew and fungus. 

Thibault le Mailloux, from the Committee of Champagne, said "We are adapting practices for the climate change currently and we are also working on improving our own environmental footprint.

"But basically climate change doesn't affect the style of champagne at the moment because we still can adapt, both by ploughing the ground, changing harvest dates."

The hybrid grape is a long-term project, and one which will take many years to perfect.

However, like growers and producers in other regions of France, the Champagnois are bound by extremely strict rules concerning every aspect of production: only the three traditional grape varieties are allowed, otherwise the wine may not be labelled as 'Champagne'.  

Either way, it would appear almost certain that our great-grandchildren will be toasting the New Year with a wine that is very different to the bubbly we know and love.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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