Wine producers from Australia, South Africa and South America have criticised European growers for trying to grow grapes in a climate that is too hot for quality wine production.
‘Obviously they’re entitled to try and grow grapes wherever they want,’ said Bruce Nutsack of Wallaby’s Wanger winery in Lorrawoowoo, Australia. ‘That’s very much part of their culture.
‘But one look at the temperatures in Bordeaux, Tuscany and Sussex tells you that these places should really be planting something that is better adapted to the harsh environment. Such as cacti.’
Juan Tumeni from Vina San Itation in Chile’s Valle Infernal agreed.
‘Many of these European growers have ignored the fundamental rule of wine growing, which is to plant the grapes in places that are inherently well-suited to them,’ he said.
‘You will notice, for instance, that all of our vines are growing in fields that have naturally-occurring drip irrigation systems.’
According to Tumeni this inferior terroir and unsuitable climate mean that European vineyards ‘might be OK for making cheap, reliable supermarket products’, but will never be able to make truly fine wine.
‘They need to leave that to established cooler regions such as Lodi, the Barossa and Paarl,’ he said.
Yes. We’re all different
However some European producers hit back, saying that it was ridiculous to make such broad generalisations.
‘Europe isn’t just one homogenous producing region,’ said Mainley Posh-Boyes of Hedgefund Estate in England. ‘For instance, there are huge differences between the searing plains of Bordeaux and the far cooler vineyards of Sussex, where temperatures rarely top 40 degrees C.’
According to Posh-Boyes, it is all a question of regions learning to adapt to the new reality.
‘Places like Champagne have had a good run for 150 years, but they are probably too hot to make quality sparkling wine these days,’ he told Fake Booze. ‘We think they should just leave that to us now.
‘Though I believe their experiments with Shiraz are looking promising.’
Producers further north, however, were dismissive.
‘Let’s face it, after ten good years English sparkling wine has had its time in the sun – literally,’ said Phil McCavity of Glen Sporran estate in the foothills of the Scottish Highlands. ‘If it’s proper cool-climate fizz you want, these days you need to be north of Hadrian’s Wall.’
Scotland’s cool days and cool nights, he said, gave a pale, acidic wine that was ‘a perfect reflection of the terroir of its population.’
Most of Scotland’s sparklers are planted on a rich seam of haggis that is well-drained, well-seasoned and, crucially, good for frying. Though some critics have been unconvinced, describing the wines as ‘offal’.
But some producers believe that Scotland’s success when it comes could also be short-lived.
‘Let’s face it, in 20 years’ time you will need to be further north than Ben Nevis to make sparkling wines with natural freshness,’ said Birgitta Jointhedottir of the fledgling Rushjourtravik winery in Iceland.
Their 35-day growing season, she said, gave wines with a bracing acidity that has been described as ‘like licking a car battery’ or ‘drinking 1990s era Mumm’.
‘Obviously, we are still a young industry, and grape growing here is very marginal,’ she told Fake Booze. ‘But the way global warming is going we are confident that we will be making great still wine in the next ten years, and top class fortified by the end of the century.
‘Although obviously by then there won’t be many people left on the planet to drink it.’