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Issue # Six- Feb 2914

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Worries about “Ever Hotter Summers”

Jancis Robinson, in a Financial Times column entitled “Châteauneuf’s dilemma,” writes that very high temperatures can block the ripening process. Harvesting in Châteauneuf, she says, is being pushed “into October and so encouraging some growers to pick while tannins are still uncomfortably drying and underripe.”

The journalist reports on a presentation in London of the 2012 vintage by Michel Chapoutier, part of whose statement caused “an audible gasp.” The admired Rhône producer, discussing alcohol levels of 15.5% to 16% from Grenache grapes, is quoted as divulging: “We experimented and found that adding water did actually result in better wines.” He went on to claim that “lots of winemakers do it, and I think we should make it legal…It’s the future of wine.”

Robinson writes that some are compensating by increasing the proportion of Mourvèdre, citing Clos de Papes 2012, a wine “that is nearly 16 percent alcohol but tastes beautifully balanced.” The writer points out that vineyards on higher ground – such as those of Ventoux – “see their cooler climate as an advantage.” She also suggests that villages at higher elevations are “making better wines than ever” and singles out the 2012s from Cairanne, Vinsobres and Chusclan.

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