Paroles de vignerons - Vinparleur - Winzer talk

Yves Gras: How to adapt our vineyards and wines to climate change?

10 October 2014, by Sebastian Nickel

The days before harvest are days of calmness. An excellent moment to think about the vintages of the past and those to come. Our wines have become more elegant and subtle over the last six years. Influence of the vintage? Probably. A new wine style? At least that’s not what we are striving for. Being convinced that terroir shapes our wines, the influence we have on their character is rather low.

The environment of our vineyards constantly evolves.

And some factors, like climate, have been changing very fast over the last years. And we have to constantly adapt ourselves to this evolution: stronger winds, drought, uncertain periods of rainfall, higher temperatures… Due to climatic changes, vines also change: the growing process, the progress of ripening and the final stage of ripeness of the grapes, and as a result, the composition and the character of its wines. And wine growers and makers have to follow the new conditions and work out new ways to keep the wines balanced and harmonious.

How is this possible?

By picking at optimum ripeness, we underline the aromatic expression and freshness of the grapes. We further set up measures in the cellar to preserve the initial fruit quality: Early protection of grapes and must against oxidation, fermenting at low temperatures, gentle extraction of tannins and colour, ageing of wines in large oak vats rather than in small barrels. We are convinced that expression of fruit comes first. Oak wood only should strengthen and embellish the wine. But we already did the most important step the day we went for organic farming in our vineyards a couple of years ago. Besides producing cleaner and healthier wines, this method respects nature and keeps terroir alive. I want to leave a legacy of soils to my children they can continue to grow vines on. We had the chance in Gigondas to inherit unspoiled land from our parents. A tradition we should continue.

For the rest, it’s difficult to predict the evolution of viticulture in our region.

Vines have an exceptional capacity to adapt to their environment, but we probably have to work on the rootstocks and grape varieties in the future. We will see. Our wines slowly evolved over the past years and they will continue. Climate, grapevines and wine itself are natural, living factors, whose reactions and evolution are partly unpredictable. They show us the direction we’ll have to follow.



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