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Osborn: Burgundy won’t be making Pinot in 20 years

The effects of climate change are happening so quickly that Burgundy will be unable to make Pinot Noir in 20-40 years according to leading Australian winemaker Chester Osborn.

Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg believes that the effects of climate change will become so severe that Burgundy will be unsuitable for Pinot Noir production in 20 years

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to London, the chief winemaker of d’Arenberg said:

“Climate change is happening. The start date of each vintage moves forward by a week per decade. There’s no doubt that we’re seeing the effects of global warming.

“Burgundy won’t be making Pinot Noir in 20-40 years as it will be too hot; they’ll be making Shriaz and still Pinot production will move to Champagne and England.

“There is a very real possibility that if the effects of global warming get too servere then Barolos won’t be made as Nebbiolo is such a sensitive variety and needs such specific conditions.

“Global warming is going to completely re-set the game – Bordeaux is going to have massive problems.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom, as Osborn believes climate change can be tackled in the vineyard by planting alternative varieties that are better suited to warmer temperatures.

“The solution lies in different grape varieties. Grenache works well in Australia and Mencía is a strong contender to replace Shiraz as they share similar characteristics,” he told db.

“We have 1.5 acres planted but I’m planting more. It’s working really well as it’s a very late ripening variety, which is what I want. It has a beautiful, spicy, herbal character that reminds me of Shiraz, red cherry fruit and a similar length to Shriaz.

“As for whites, I think Assyrtiko, Fiano and Greco di Tufo have great potential in Australia and I’m experimenting with all three,” he added.

While global warming presents a very real threat to winemakers around the world, Osborn says that converting to bioynamics hasn’t been difficult.

“It hasn’t been a challenge for us being biodynamic as it’s very dry in the McLaren Vale. You don’t need to pick on a specific day during the lunar cycle to be biodynamic, but I think there’s something in it, as when you’re coming up to a full moon the tide is the strongest and our yeasts are the most active.

“Our ferments go faster when we’re coming up to a full moon. There a subtle changes in pressure and the moonlight has some impact on the plants,” Osborn said.

“I believe in biodynamics. We first trialled it in 2009 and the wines were more mushroomy and earthy, which is why it works so well in Burgundy, as without it the wines can be quite tight and lean,” he added.

Like Chile’s Aurelio Montes, Osborn believes that music can have a positive effect on grape growth.

“Plants respond positively to music. At the vines surrounding our winery we play a special algorithm of music created by DJ Trip that changes depending on the weather.

“We’ve just made our first vintage from the vines that were played music and it’s our best in 15 years,” Osborn revealed.

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