Wine and weather how the quality is affected

Wine and weather: how the quality is affected

Wine and weather maintain a deep relationship that begins in the location of the vineyards, continues both in the choice of the varieties planted and in the final maturation of the grapes each year and ends in the characteristics and styles of the wines that are made with them.

Wine and good weather

The final objective of viticulture is to obtain a harvest of quality grapes, that is, healthy and ripe, that allow the production of wine.

To obtain these grapes we need vines that each year can grow and develop until their vegetative cycle is complete.

In order to complete this process, the vine needs five basic elements. The heat, of fundamental importance, the solar light to combine carbon dioxide and water during photosynthesis and the nutrients that it obtains from the soil.

Of all the above, temperature is the most important individual climatic element for the development of the vine since a prolonged period of mild average temperatures is required to achieve adequate maturity of the grapes.

This climatic requirement is what decides the distribution and location of the vineyard throughout the planet.

The great wine-growing regions are located in two wide strips of surface that are known, from the point of view of the weather, as the Temperate Zone of the Earth.

  • One in the northern hemisphere, which goes from the Arctic Circle to the Tropic of Cancer, occupying vineyards between 32º and 51º latitude.
  • Another in the southern hemisphere, which goes from the Antarctic Circle to the Tropic of Capricorn, occupying vineyards between 28º and 42º latitude.

This uneven distribution of latitudes is mainly explained by the difference in landmass in both hemispheres.

Cooler weather vineyards produce many of the most prestigious drinks

In vineyards located in cooler weathers, maturation is the key factor year after year.

The varieties that are planted are mainly of shorter maturation cycle and of earlier maturation, to avoid the spring frosts and the rains and colds of the autumn that can diminish or ruin the harvest.

In principle, these climatic conditions are more suitable for planting white varieties.

The vegetative cycles of the selected varieties must perfectly match the climatic conditions to obtain quality fruit.

These regions tend to have a high daily temperature range in the vineyard. In these areas, the terroir has a great relevance since the most favorable places will offer more reliable ripening of the grapes, over the years.

Italian vineyards hit by the same cold as French ones

Italian vineyards hit by the same cold as French ones

The same cold front that damaged vine buds in an estimated 80 percent of French vineyards two weeks ago also struck Italy, leading Italian vintners report.

Piedmont and Tuscany were unable to escape freezing temperatures over several nights.

However, the damage was heterogeneous, depending on grape variety, elevation and how much the vines had grown since warm temperatures arrived in March.

“The damage is like the spots on a leopard—widespread but only hitting early varieties exposed to the warmer sides of the hills and below a certain elevation, as cold air goes down,” reported Antonio Michael Zaccheo Jr. of Carpineto, whose five estates are located in Montepulciano, Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Maremma.

Tuscan vineyards troubles

The frost was deadly this year because a warm March sparked many vines to start growing early.

When a cold snap brought several nights of freezing temperatures April 6, 7 and 8, the young buds suffered.

Frost tends to strike vines on valley floors and lower parts of hills more, because cool air settles there.

“Sadly, Sangiovese was already budding in many of our vineyards.

So for us the shoots from at least 50 acres suffered anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent damage,” said Zaccheo.

“In the Vino Nobile appellation I would guess at least one-quarter of the surface at lower elevations had similar damage.”

Carpineto’s vineyards in Montalcino are at higher elevations and his Chianti Classico estates are in cooler areas.

Thus were not affected. However, an experimental plot of Teroldego in Maremma was devastated, and Zaccheo estimates 50 percent damage to the Merlot there, while Vermentino was spared.

Gaja’s properties include vineyards in Barolo, Barbaresco, Montalcino and Bolgheri. Co-proprietor Gaia Gaja estimates the damage from the frost was minimal in Piedmont and Bolgheri, but some of the vineyards in Montalcino, particularly near Torrenieri were hit. “We had no damages in the Tavernelle area [surrounding their Pieve Santa Restituta cellars],” she said. “It is in the southwest portion of the denomination at [1,155 feet] altitude and temperatures reached [30° F].”

Source: Wine Spectator

French vineyards alert of possible frost damage

French vineyards alert of possible frost damage

Temperatures continue to drop across France as more winemakers report concerns of frost damage in the vineyards.

The Inter Rhône trade body reported that the whole of the Rhône has been hit dramatically and that ‘some plots are affected 100%.’

‘We already know that some sectors have been affected in their entirety,’ said Philippe Pellaton, President of Inter-Rhône.

‘We will not be able to measure the real impact of this frost episode until the next 24 to 48 hours’.

The French council for appellation wines (CNIV) are concerned the worst is not yet over, stating that ‘temperatures have dropped to -7 ° C in places and further episodes of frost are to be feared in the days to come.’

‘It is still too early to know precisely the extent of the damage, but 80% of regions have been affected’, said Jean-Marie Barillère, President of the CNIV.

April 8th Frost

 There were growing fears that frost may have caused significant damage to French vineyards in several regions this week. 

Many winemakers have lit candles and controlled fires next to rows of vines in order to help protect the emerging 2021 crop from a sudden drop in temperatures. Aerial photos on social media showed hundreds of candles lit across vineyards.

Some producers also launched helicopters to fly above their vineyards, a method that can help to prevent frost by encouraging warm air to circulate. 

There were particular concerns on Thursday (8 April) about vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy, although winemakers cautioned that the full picture was still unclear.

Bordeaux’s regional wine council, the CIVB, said damage was still being assessed but that ‘it is already certain that this spring frost will severely impact the volume of the 2021 harvest’.

‘Bourgogne winegrowers did what they could to fight, but each period of frost was too long and the temperatures were too low. Nature has been stronger than us.’

Source: Decanter