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What's Hot About Cool Climate?

February 01, 2012


This years International Cool Climate Symposium for viticulture and oenology is being held in Hobart, Tasmania. I'm lucky enough to be attending which I've coincided with a family holiday in Australia. 

Jancis Robinson opened the conference with a keynote speech titled "What's hot about cool climate", which was an illuminating tour of potential new regions in the world for an expanding market for cool climate wines. She described cool climate wines as more refreshing, generally healthier (with a lower alcohol content) and easier to match with food. 

This was followed by an excellent presentation from  Dr Andrew Pirie on "Defining cool climate viticulture and winemaking". He used the GST (Growing Season Temperature) measure to define cool (14-16C), very cool (13-14C) and too cool (under 13C). Surrey is around 13.9C. 

Andrew maintained that the GST measure also tells you what varietals can be successfully grown; in very cool regions, muller-thurgau, seyval, reichensteiner, and bacchus are found, while in cool regions, such as Champagne (14.1-14.7C), Alsace and Central Otago,  gewurztraminer, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, gamey, sauvignon blanc and riesling are best suited. Over 16C varieties such as cabernet sauvignon are grown in areas like Bordeaux.

In the last 30 years temperatures in the south of England have increased by around 1.5C, so we are likely to soon be very firmly in the cool category.