Climate change represents a ‘global emergency’

Hundreds of industry representatives attended the Climate Change Leadership conference in Porto – a follow-up to the Porto Protocol launched with former US President Barack Obama in 2018. The conference, held in March, was organised with the Fladgate Partnership, owner of Taylor’s and Croft Port houses.

In the closing speech, former US Vice-President and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore, highlighted the ‘global emergency’ posed by climate change to the planet’s resources – from water, topsoil and forests to the state of the oceans and biodiversity.

The energy trapped in the atmosphere by manmade global warming, Gore said, was equivalent to exploding 500,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs a day, 365 days a year. He likened extreme weather events around the world in recent years to ‘something out of the Book of Revelation’.

Gore also called on wine industry leaders to show the new generation of consumers that they were committed to change by signing up to the Protocol.

In a timely move, Familia Torres and Jackson Family Wines are joining forces to create the International Wineries for Climate Action group, which is aimed at ‘decarbonising the industry’. Members share the commitment to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2045.

Al Gore

Bordeaux en primeur under the spotlight

Following the AGM of the Union des Grands Crus (UGC), Bordeaux experts have been taking the measure of the upcoming en primeur campaign.

Decanter’s Jane Anson expressed initial scepticism, citing the spring rain and subsequent mildew damage. This was countered by the ‘second hottest summer since 2003’, according to Martin Lasserre of Union Régionale Agricole Bordelaise. ‘The conditions overall meant lots of concentration. Most winemakers brought in small berries with thick skins,’ he added.

‘These are likely to be high-impact wines,’ said Anson, referring in particular to later-ripening areas. ‘The Côtes, the satellites and cooler parts of St-Emilion have alcohols at 14.5%, 15% and more.’

‘Pessac-Léognan did best, perhaps because it’s an early ripening site,’ said Marie-Laurence Porte of Enosens. ‘They could harvest before over-concentration.’

Brexit booze cruisers

Majestic reported that ‘booze cruises’ – UK visitors stocking up on wine at stores in Calais, France – are on the rise ahead of Brexit. In February, sales at Calais’ two Majestic stores increased by 49% year on year, which the company described as its ‘biggest ever month outside of Christmas’.

‘This is a new generation of cruiser millennials,’ said Joshua Lincoln, MD at Majestic. ‘They are spending the same as they would in the UK, and getting considerably better bottles.’

Despite uncertain exchange rates, UK consumers could save at least £3 per bottle in Calais, according to Majestic.

Floods in Russian River

More than 3,500 Russian River residents were evacuated after extreme rainfall caused flooding across the region in February. The floods were triggered by 24 hours of heavy rain, brought on by the ‘Pineapple Express’ weather front.

‘Our hearts and minds continue to be with the community and residents who have been impacted,’ Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) told Decanter.

Lower-lying vineyards saw serious flooding, and video footage showed submerged vines near Healdsburg. SCV said the winter dormancy of the vines should guard against long-term damage.