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2020 – a golden era for winemaking?

It can be a risky business, winemaking. The pursuit of excellence often requires nerve and daring. Yet more and more winemakers are going to the brink. New vineyards are springing up in areas once considered not practical and far too risky for the growing of wine grapes, such as those at high altitudes, and locations close to the sea. The aim, always, in warm climate countries, increasingly with global warming, is to seek out cool micro-climates for as long a growing season as possible. In this way grapes develop more flavour intensity and complexity, and wines are fresher. Many cool climate countries, conversely, are benefitting from more sunshine days. In England, for example, we are growing grapes such as Chardonnay which, except for the making of sparkling wines, wouldn’t have quite ripened well enough even just a few years ago. Of course, for nigh on two thousand years wine grapes have been grown high on steep slopes, such as on the Douro terraces in Portugal, for example, but in 2020 the practice is worldwide, and think of the winemaking improvements over the centuries, especially the last few decades.   We`ve never had is so good.  Science and technology, and investment in winemaking, have all been a part of this sea change over the years. We are in a mature, evolved place in 2020. We should think ourselves lucky. Extensive clone selection, mature vines, best possible sites. Have you ever visited a modern winery? Pick any. They are a far cry from the romantic image of a horse and cart, dusty old wine barrels and a flat-capped aged winemaker with a fag hanging from his mouth. Yet they produce better wines, truthfully: more elegant, cleaner, and pure of fruit; better with food.  Yet it occurs to me: are we living in the golden age of winemaking? Could global warming tip the wine world off balance in future years?  Just how many new landscapes can winemakers test to escape the heat? And how many of the cool-climate grapes will simply disappear, replaced by warm-climate grapes? Enjoy the good times, folks, they may not be forever.

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