Climate change ‘may alter’ flavour of NZ Sauvignon Blanc

Climate Change may alter the taste of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and pave they way for varieties such as Albarino to do well in Marlborough, experts have claimed.

Marlborough, New Zealand (Photo: Flickr)

Climate expert Chris Brandolino, the principal scientist of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) told New Zealand TV’s 1 NEWS last week that the country’s wine growing areas were likely to see more rainfall during the wet season and drier dry seasons – which was bad news for winegrowers.

“What we’ve seen over past couple of years is a reflection of what’s to come in terms of evolving climate,” he said. “It’s expected we’ll see more hot days across NZ that includes the wine regions – Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.”

“We’re going to see more rainfall in the wet season and less in the dry season, so more rainfall when it’s not needed for the winegrower sand, less when it is needed.”

Steve Smith MW, who was speaking at last week’s International Sauvignon Blanc celebration in Blenheim told 1 News in an interview that these changes in climate could stress the grapes leading them to be riper, but offering less intense and refreshing flavours.

“The characteristic grassy character of Marlborough Sauvignon may not be as intense and that might be replaced with more citrus and nectarine,” he told the TV channel.

Smith added that warmer and wetter weather in Marlborough would mean a variety such as Albarino could thrive.

“Albarino, from the north east of Spain, northwest of Spain, could well be part of the vineyard scene in Marlborough,” he said.

Smith gave an in-depth analysis of the problems facing NZ winegrowers at last weeks International Sauvignon Blanc 2019, talking about the deep impact on winemaking on climate change and how winemakers could adapt and calling on winemakers to use the insight and science at its disposal, including clone and rootstock assessment and genetic editing to combat the problem.


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