Author

Wine Brothers

Browsing

How to get the best out of Yunnan in just 6 days?

 

Night train Kunming – Dali

We landed in Kunming on a Saturday night from Hong-Kong. If you want to save time, you need to travel by night. It might not be the most confortable solution, but it’s cheap and convenient.

We decided to go for the hard sleep ticket from Kunming to Dali. It takes only 7 hours by train, arriving early in the morning (Kunming to Dali / 23h30 – 6h30 / 106 kuays each)

DAY 1

Arriving in Dali, the first step is to get near the Old Town and the Erhai Lake. It’s a 30 min drive by taxi or a bit longer if you to take the bus number 8, stopping very close to Dali Old Town.

MORNING / AFTERNOON

We chose to hang around in the typical Chinese streets – even if adapted to tourists – and appreciated the local atmosphere of the city.

Getting lost in the Ancient Town, chilling in peaceful cafés, eating local dumplings and bargaining souvenirs are the enjoyable moments you can have there.

You can also go to the Three Pagodas but we thought it was expensive and didn’t pay the fees to enter the site.

LUNCH

We had lunch at the street food market in the Old Town. Amazing fried noodles there!

DINNER

You might prefer staying in the Old Town where you can easily find restaurants and bars at night, up to you. We definitely recommend The Yang Copper pot beef restaurant on Yeyu Road in Old Town, delicious Yunnan Hotpot!

NIGHT

As we got tired from our train night and walking day, we headed to our hotel in Caicun, just next to the Erhai Lake. This looked like the best option for us, as we wanted to enjoy both sunset and sunrise on the Lake. We stayed at the Jue Se Garden Theme Inn, which offers very confortable and clean rooms for a fair price. It has a nice shared rooftop where you can relax and enjoy the magnificent view on Erhai Lake. Unfortunately, a small water treatment factory has been built close to the hotel, which might spoil the view. Anyway, we thought it was a fair deal according to the price paid (Private bedroom with Twin beds and Private bathroom – 115 kuays a / night)

Tip: If you stay in Caicun, it’s a better deal to rent a scooter for two (30 Kuays a day) if you make more than one round trip from the hotel to the old town (around 20 kuays round trip, bargain!)

 

 

DAY 2

MORNING / AFTERNOON

After a good night of sleep, we rented two electric scooters to ride along the Erhai Lake – a must do in Dali. It’s important to note that your scooter battery will last longer with only one person riding! That’s why we rented two instead of one. Even doing so, the furthest you can go is Jinguisi Ecological Park, up north along the lake. Once you get there, you’d better think of going back to avoid running out of battery.

The best option is to stay as close as possible to the Erhai Lake, following the West Erhai Lake Road signs. You will enjoy the best viewpoints and find nice cafés and hotels along the road. Government is currently closing some of them to run tests about the lake pollution. We hope it was only temporary, as the places looked amazing. You might be driving with Chinese tourists and “Instagram/WeChat girls” paying to take pictures in front of the lake, with some local people infrastructure.

We strongly recommend this motorbike peaceful day, but don’t forget the sunscreen as the sun hits hard in Yunnan!

DINNER / NIGHT

We took a train (2 hours / 68 Kuays per person) and arrived in Lijiang at 7pm where we stayed at the Dreamer Inn Hotel. It was a good value choice, however a bit far away from the excitement of the busy streets in Lijiang Old Town. Tourists and local people mix in those streets to create a unique atmosphere. We loved our 2 hours walk even if it got hard to find a restaurant after 9pm! We finally ate at the 88 snacks restaurants, offering all sorts a Chinese food. Good value for money !

DAY 3

MORNING

It’s time to go to the wonderful Tiger Leaping Gorge ! First important thing to know, you can take your luggage with you, as hotels at the entry of the Gorge can store them while you walk. Obviously we didn’t know and left ours at our Lijiang Hotel.

To get to the hiking track you can take non-stop buses at Lijiang Transport Service Center Bus Station (located at Changshui Road to the southwest corner of Lijiang Old Town) to get to Qiaotou (桥头) County, where the upper Tiger Leap Gorge is located. It departs at 8am every day and the journey takes about 2 hours. Make sure you only pay to go to Qiaotou (桥头) if you plan to hike the upper gorge. You will have to pay the entrance fee of the park (¥65). Now you’re good to start the hike! It’s 10:30am.

After 20 minutes going up the road you will find the beginning of the track. It might the harshest part of the trek, as you’re not ready for it, it’s very steep!

  • It took us approximately 1.5 hours to get to the Naxi Village where you can have some rest and lunch
Naxi Village view

AFTERNOON

  • Going to the Tea Horse Guesthouse takes around 2 hours, going through the 28 bends. Take it easy and everything’s gonna be alright. The stunning view at the top is worth it!
  • From Tea Horse GH to the Halfway GH, it’s an easy track. You can expect an hour walk.

No need to be good at mathematics to understand Halfway GH might be renamed 80% GH !

DINNER / NIGHT

We arrived at Halfway GH around 4pm where the view from the terrace is absolutely stunning! They provide confortable rooms at a fair price. Expect ¥120 if don’t want a romm with a view, around ¥200 with the view. Don’t forget to bargain the price even if people at the desk are not very receptive.

DAY 4

MORNING

Knowing that the first buses going to Shangri-La or to get back to Lijiang leave at 2:30pm (even if they say only 3:30 at Halfway GH), you can decide what time you want to get up.

  • Going to Tina’s GH takes approximately an hour, going down. You can ask for the bus schedules and book to be sure.
  • Going down and up the gorge takes 2.5 hours if you stop to take pictures down there.

Note that you have to pay ¥15 to start the walk, ¥15 at mid-walk to enjoy the “sky ladder” and additional fees to take photos on the best spots! It’s up to you to support the local community… If you’re not afraid of heights, you can go up an impressive 30m high ladder and the way up, just don’t think too much about Health and Safety rules!

The hike is quite steep but shorter than the day before. We would definitely advise to do it to admire the strength of the flow from the river. Even they surprisingly didn’t serve rice; the restaurant at the end of the path offers a wonderful terrace, great reward, you won’t regret it!

DINNER / NIGHT

View from Kersang Relay Station by night

We arrived in Shangri-La by night, around 9pm. We still don’t know how but the guy from our nice hotel, Kersang’s relay station, found us in the Ancient Town while we were walking towards it. The Guesthouse is very well located, with a great view on the Main Temple.

Very close to the hotel, we enjoyed a Tibetan dinner, basically with Yak in every dish. Interesting taste!

We chose the twin bedroom with shared bathroom for 65 kuay / night.

Note that if you have time, you can plan a stop at the wonderful BaiShuiTai white terraces between both cities.

DAY 5

MORNING

After a good night of sleep we enjoyed a tasteful Yunnan coffee on the peaceful terrace.

In the morning we went to the Songzanlin monastery walking, which is not worth it. You’d better choose the bus option for a kuay.

The monastery itself looks great. You can enjoy the different temples in the old village and have a nice walk around the lake. However, it became a very touristic place and Chinese local authorities have built a lot around the proper ancient buildings. Anyway, you can’t miss this spot in Shangri-La.

LUNCH

We went back to Shangri-La old town to have lunch and recommend the terrace at Three Brothers Café.

AFTERNOON

Hiking up to the Bai Ji Se Temple and walking to Gui Shang Temple and its impressive Prayer Wheel in the afternoon was also great. It doesn’t take long and we decided to have some rest at the hotel before dinner.

DINNER

We went to the charming Karma Café, where the Taiwanese-born host warmly welcomed us. You will definitely love her delicious fine dishes, wine and beers. Don’t miss the tender Yak fillet. Ask your hotel for the direction as Google Maps indicates the wrong location.

DAY 6

MORNING

Going to the Shika Mountains

You can go down the cable car by taxi for 20-30 kuays. There you have two choices:

  • If you have time and are in good shape, you can go up the mountain hiking. It looked awesome but we didn’t have time for it. Be careful with altitude and oxygen, you will go 4,500 meters high!
  • Take the cable car. It’s expensive and very long (approximately 45 minutes to go up) but the view up there is absolutely incredible. Going out of the cable car you might need some time to adapt the new atmosphere and might feel dizzy.

LUNCH

We had lunch again at the Three Brothers Café.

AFTERNOON

We decided not to go to other main activities around Shangri-La like the Pota Tso Park as they were very expensive! (250 Kuays)  and preferred to enjoy the terrace at the hotel, working with a good coffee.

DINNER / NIGHT

Time to go back to Kunming airport!

  • The cheapest option is obviously to go by bus (220 Kuays – 12 hours). Don’t expect a good night of sleep even if you have sleeper tickets… The old buses are impressively shaky!
  • You can also take a flight from Shangri-La to Kunming. (600 Kuays – 1 hour)

Once you are in Kunming railway station, you can go to the airport by metro for 12 kuays. It takes around an hour.

Hope you will enjoy Yunnan as much as we did! Six days is short buy optimizing transition times makes it enough to get the best out of Yunnan! Feel free to comment if you need further information.

Ben & Bapt – The Wine Brothers

By Baptiste, Global Wining

After a month spent in South Africa and a 7-day transition in Hong Kong, the time to explore China and its freshly planted vineyards had come. This blog post was probably meant to be written at the end of the whole China trip, but after all the diversity I came across with in the Yunnan region, I had to share my excitement. First time ever in China, my expectations as well as my prejudices on the Chinese culture were high. I was hasty and excited to begin the trip.

We started with the Yunnan province, which is fairly small in terms of wine production, but has recently been precipitated at the front stage of the wine industry with the LVMH project Ao Yun. Unfortunately, the domain only opens its door to a few visits per year for exclusive customers and journalists, but we had the opportunity to meet with Maxence Dulou, the winemaker, in the wonderful and delicious Karma Café of Shangri La.

 

Ao Yun vineyard – Global Wining

The Shangri-La vineyards are a 4-hour drive from the city of Shangri-La. Located at the same latitude as Morocco, its total area covers 300Ha of vines, mostly planted in 2002 on steep terraces between 2200m to 2600m altitude. The vineyard land, controlled by the Chinese government, is exploited by 4 wine estates including 28 Ha for Ao Yun.

Starting in 2009, it took Tony Jordan 4 years to conclude that this place was the most appropriate terroir of China to produce the wine identity Moët Hennessy was looking for.

At a first glance, such a hostile environment seems completely inadequate to grow any sorts of vines. The 28 Ha are divided in more than 300 parcels on terraces, modern technologies such as drones are useless due to the complexity of the topography, sunlight exposure during the day is drastically reduced because of the high summits surrounding the vineyards, time from flowering to harvesting is increased to 160 days, and winemaking blend has to be made in Hong-Kong near the sea level to eliminate any taste-bias from the altitude.

 

Maxence Dulou – Ao Yun Winemaker

But nothing to discourage LVMH! In 2013, the French company appointed the experienced winemaker Maxence Dulou to make its dream come true: express this unique terroir to produce the finest wine made in China. Driven by the entrepreneurial spirit and the passion for details of Maxence, a complex organization of local farmers was set up to health-check every single vine by hand.

With Ao Yun, LVMH has initiated a new era of luxury wines in China, and the project has proven a successful wager so far in many experts, but informal, blind-tastings. Selling around 280€ a bottle, and limiting production to 2000 cases a year, we had the pleasure to taste the delicious 2014 vintage with Maxence. Ao Yun, meaning flying above the clouds, is not only one of the finest and most expensive wine made in China, but also the wine lab of Moët Hennessy. Quality, refined elegance and pioneering are the key words that drive the vision of Maxence, whatever it takes or costs.

 

 

Founded on February 1700, Vergelegen, meaning “situated far away”, is a world-class wine estate enjoying 3,200 Ha of perfect biodiversity mix, down The Helderberg mountains and the Lourens River. Its 123 Ha of vines are mainly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Sauvignon Blanc (30%).

In 1998, the anglo-american owners decided to change the managing and viticultural teams to infuse a new vision for their wine. This innovative spirit is perfectly embodied by André Van Rensburg character, who was appointed chief winemaker 20 years ago. Gathering a team of experts, André explored ways to cure the leafroll virus striking his vines  with the vision to become “the first virus free property in the world”. He also anticipated climate change and engaged significant work to make the domain self-sufficient in water supply, with quality wine and a controlled biodiversity. This is the result of a 20 years preparation detailed below.

“Leafroll is the new phylloxera”

The leafroll virus is a world famous disease, discovered in 1936, defined as follow by André Van Rensburg :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Grapevine leafroll disease (LR) is a serious disease of grapevine worldwide. Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3) is the most prevalent virus associated with this disease in South Africa and, despite a successful virus-elimination strategy within a certification scheme, spreads rapidly in local commercial vineyards.” (Control of Grapevine Leafroll Disease Spread at a Commercial Wine Estate in South Africa: A Case Study – Van Rensburg, 2013)

The virus has always been neglected by farmers as it is not instantly fatal to the vines. No one has ever considered the idea of a possible curation, as André told us during our interview: “Because of the ubiquitous nature of the disease here it has always been considered something grapevine growers have to live with, and not as an entity that could be controlled.”

Yet, infected vineyards decline in berries quality and quantity, because of a delayed fruit maturation with reduced sugar content and color. This undoubtedly leads to lowered crop yields and also reduces drastically the longevity of the vines.

André was the first winemaker trying to understand the underlying reasons of why the leafroll virus was so hard to remove.

Assisted by his wife Maritza who performs around 18,000 vines analysis a year, Dr.Pietersen as Chief Virologist and Dwayne Lottering as Assistant Winemaker, André built up a dedicated team to implement his innovative vision to cure the Vergelegen vineyards from the leafroll virus.

They elaborated a clear step-by-step plan to heal any infested vine blocks:

  • All new vines have to be treated with a systemic insecticide.
  • Viruses vineyards from red grape varieties need to be replaced by treating the old infected vines with herbicides to kill them before removing them.
  • As many of the white cultivar vines were still producing good quality berries, vines were individually replaced as soon as they no longer delivered great wines.
  • Performing tests following ELISA laboratory technique to control the invisible symptoms on certain cultivars. Symptoms can’t be seen by human eye on certain types of white cultivars and it must be remembered that up to the middle nineties close to 80% of all plantings in South Africa were white grapes! (André Van Rensburg, in a note Vergelegen Estate – Leafroll Virus Management, 2012)

By using this method, André and his team not only almost doubled their yield, but also improved the colour, flavor and structure of their wine. They reduced the infection rate of freshly planted vineyards (13 years) to 0.027%, and are getting closer and closer to a total eradication in the domain. André likes now to claim he runs the “only virus free property in the world”.

The main challenge is now to be able to shift from chemicals to biological methods, in order to cope with their unique biodiversity policy.

The Fynbos case: balanced biodiversity is the key

Anticipating climate changes, André started to work on the harmony of the 3,200 Ha and hired a flora and vegetation specialist to help him in this task. They decided to eradicate any alien vegetation on the property and plant the original species that used to grow in the area. 

Pines and Eucalyptus, consuming too much water – almost 200L/tree/day – were all removed and replaced by Fynbos, a typical vegetal from the Western Cape coast.

Although it might be an expensive solution, the property lives in a more natural environment and a low natural water consumption. That’s the only reason why they still have a water stream going through the domain, according to Dwayne Lottering who gave us an amazing tour.

Facing the drought

Talking about water consumption and in line with the climate change vision of André, the main dam, originally built by the previous owners in the 90’s, was renovated and dug deeper, while two others were also constructed, ensuring the water self-sufficiency of the domain. 

90% of the vineyard has now the facility to be irrigated, but André only uses this solution for emergency  cases. With 2018 being the third drought in a row, Vergelegen was perfectly ready to face this extreme weather conditions on the long term, with the capacity to irrigate with water coming from his own dams, independently of the government’s water restrictions.

From experimentation to fame

We were stroke by the modern vision conveyed by André during the interview. Explaining the different parts of his strategy for more than an hour, it looked like the entire method was natural. But among the 12 winemakers we met, André is the only one to tackle these issues with method and process. Added to a unique terroir close to the ocean that gives cool air flowing, naturally abundant water from the mountains and soil made of decomposed granite with high good water retention properties, Vergelegen seems ready to face the climate change challenges of the next decades. That’s maybe why the world-famous French wine consultant Michel Rolland decided to join the adventure few years ago.

 

 

Extreme weather across many wine regions in 2017 may be more than a blip, according to fresh data from one of Europe’s leading science agencies that says wildfires, droughts and flooding are becoming more common globally due to man-made climate change.

Weather has become more volatile and more extreme in the past 36 years, said the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) in a recent report.

Flooding ‘events’ have quadrupled globally since 1980, while droughts, forest fires and extreme heatwaves have more than doubled in that time, said the council, which is made up of 27 national science academies in Europe, including the UK’s Royal Aacademy.

Its report, published in March 2018 and which profiles a continuing trend from a previous study published in 2013, adds to evidence that climate change is creating more volatile weather, as well as higher temperatures. While the potential risks to life are clearly the most pressing concern, the EASAC report also has resonance in a wine world that endured a heady mix of extreme weather events in 2017.

As Decanter columnist Andrew Jefford put it recently, ‘2017 must be regarded as one of the most disaster-strewn years the wine world has endured since the onset of phylloxera.’

Dr Greg Jones, a specialist on climate change and its potential effects on vineyards, told Decanter.com,’For wine regions, there is evidence that varies from region to region but ultimately shows that hail and heavy rain events are more frequent and that heat stress events are more frequent and longer.’

Jones, who is director at the Grace & Ken Evenstad Center for Wine Education at Linfield College in Oregon, added, ‘In the early 1990s when I started looking at climate change and wine it was clear that there were trends in temperatures, but also trends to more variability in temperatures as well (standard deviation increasing).

 ‘This meant that even though the climate was warming, it was becoming more variable. Or in other words, wider swings in cold extremes and heat extremes. This has been borne out over the years and I continue see it in other work I have done.’ EASAC called for urgent action to mitigate threats posed by man-made climate change. ‘Adaptation and mitigation must remain the cornerstones of tackling climate change,’ said professor Michael Norton, EASAC’s environment programme director. ‘This update is most timely since the European Commission is due to release its evaluation of its climate strategy this year.’
 
 Source: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/climate-change-in-vineyards-extreme-weather-becoming-new-normal-388721/#eMs2qEuvAK9SIyQQ.99 – Chris Mercer

Bordeaux commentator Bill Blatch provides this compendium of statistics on weather and picking dates to complement Blatch on Bordeaux 2017 – the vines and Blatch on Bordeaux 2017 – the wines

The year’s monthly rainfall and temperatures

Rainfall (mm) Cumul min temp (ºC) Cumul max temp (ºC) Sun hours
Winter 11/16 86 -9% 7.1 +2 13.8 +0.7
12/16 13 -77% 4.2 +1.3 12.1 +2.2
01/17 28 -72% 0.7 -1.6 8.6 -0.8
02/17 75 -12% 5.5 +2.4 4.1 +2.9
03/17 65 -15% 7.8 +3.9 16.6 +2.9
Total 267 -21% +1.6 +1.6
Spring 04/17 22 -70% 6.8 +0.3 19.5 +3.2 281 +48%
05/17 52 -33% 12.7 +3.2 23.7 +4.0 271 +29%
06/17 137 +144% 16.2 +3.8 27.2 +4.0 268 +11%
Total 211 +1.3 +3.7 +29%
Summer 07/17 28 -44% 17.1 +1.3 26.4 -0.5 193 -22%
08/17 30 -46% 16.1 +0.4 28.0 +0.9 267 +10%
Total 58 -45% 16.6 +0.9 27.2 +0.2 460 -11%
Autumn 09/17 72 -14% 12.5 -0.4 22.2 -1.8 174 -14%
10/17 13 -86% 11.5 +1.1 21.2 +1.8 184 +26%
Total 85 -48% +0.8 = +20%

Figures are as registered at Mérignac.


Diary of the 2017 harvest

Date Temp (ºC) Weather Rainfall (mm) Harvesting dates
Dry white Merlot Cabs Sauternes
August
28 M 17–36 s
29 Tu 21–31 s
30 W 19–25 c
31 Th 19–25 c
September (norm 12.2–23.8 ºC)
01 F 10–21 s/sh 4
02 Sa 12–23 s
03 Su 12–25 s/sh 3
04 M 15–26 s/sh 1
05 Tu 16–24 c/sh 1
06 W 14–23 c
07 Th 16–21 cI
08 F 16–21 r 16
09 Sa 14–21 sh/c 3
10 Su 11–21 sh/c 4
11 M 15–27 sh/c 3
12 Tu 11–21 s/sh 3
13 W 16–22 sh/c 6
14 Th 13–20 s/sh 2
15 F 11–19 s/sh 4
16 Sa 10–17 r/c 12
17 Su 11–17 c/sh 3
18 M 13–20 s/c √√
19 Tu 8–20 s √√
20 W 7–21 s √√
21 Th 9–25 s √√
22 F 13–22 c/s √√
23 Sa 11–25 s √√
24 Su 12–28 s/sh 1 √√
25 M 10–22 s/sh √√ √√
26 Tu 12–21 s/dr √√ √√
27 W 12–26 s √√
28 Th 12–27 s √√
29 F 15–27 s/sh 2 √√
30 Sa 14–20 sh/c 2 √√
October (norm 10.8–19.4 ºC)
01 Su 13–19 c/sh 3 √√
02 M 18–21 sh/c 1 √√ √√
03 Tu 18–24 c/sh 1 √√ √√
04 W 11–22 s √√ √√
05 Th 11–23 s/sh 1 √√ √√
06 F 13–19 s √√ √√
07 Sa 6–19 s √√
08 Su 6–19 c/s √√
09 M 10–20 c √√
10 Tu 12–22 c/s √√
11 W 9–26 s √√
12 Th 11–21 s √√
13 F 10–25 s √√
14 Sa 11–25 c/s
15 Su 15–27 s
16 M 16–29 s
17 Tu 15–25 s/sh 1
18 W 16–22 c/sh 3
19 Th 13–20 c
20 F 14–21 s

Figures are as at the met station in Mérignac.
Double ticks indicate the main days of harvesting.
c = cloud, f = fog, sh = showers, s = sun, r = rain, dr = drizzle

 

Source: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/blatch-on-bordeaux-2017-the-stats

As you read this, the vine-pruners of the northern hemisphere will be finishing their lonely winter’s work. The sap will soon rise and the pruning cuts weep – and a new year will be underway. What horrors await for 2018?

Apologies for the phrasing, but 2017 must be regarded as one of the most disaster-strewn years the wine world has endured since the onset of phylloxera. It would be imprudent not to prepare for more of the same. Or worse.

Savage April frosts, the typically random depredations of hail, and fierce summer heat gave both France and Italy their smallest crop for more than 50 years in 2017, with Spain barely faring better. Around half the world’s wine comes from these three nations. Their shortages also followed poor 2016 harvests for both Chile and Argentina.

Last year began with wildfires in some of Chile’s oldest vineyards, and in parts of South Africa’s winelands, too. Wildfire struck Portugal in June, and it then sprinted no less terrifyingly through northern California’s wine heartland in early October, before returning to Portugal and northern Spain in mid-October, and to southern California in December.

The 2017 fire death toll in these three countries exceeded 150, a figure approaching the fatalities exacted by fire on Australia’s Black Saturday in February 2009.You might regard all of these events as isolated incidents, and consider 2017 an unlucky year.

I’m not so sure. As I wrote in a blog on Decanter.com on 15 May last year (‘Big frost is back – but why?’), the April 2017 frosts may have been due to a disorderly polar vortex, caused in turn by warming oceans. Such frosts may therefore become a regular feature of European springs of the future, at a time when milder winters provoke ever earlier budburst. This would be a catastrophic combination for wine-growers.

Drier, hotter summers for large wine-growing regions seem certain (2016 is at present the warmest year on record, with 2017 likely in either second or third place), and will be a feature of decades to come. Vines will struggle with drought and with problems associated with heat-damage. The overall warming trend may mean that growers need to replant with later-ripening varieties or drought-resistant rootstocks – or, where possible, move vineyards to higher altitudes.

The ever-present fire risk in landscapes with woody shrubland like garrigue – typical of the Mediterranean climate zones where most of the world’s vineyards are found – is already acute, as 2017 has comprehensively proved.

Warming oceans, too, provide fuel for hurricanes and other extreme weather events (including hail storms in continental climate zones). The October 2017 fires in Spain and Portugal were in part caused by the remnant winds of hurricane Ophelia.

Human-influenced climate change drives much of this, but there are other worrying developments too, assignable not so much to climate change as to human population pressure. The global population was 1 billion in the early 1800s; it reached 7 billion in 2012, and is predicted to peak at around 9.5 billion later this century.

Every living human today impinges on the environment in a way that was inconceivable in 1800. One consequence is that 58% of the world’s animal life has been lost between 1970 and 2012, while some 75% of flying insects in one European country (Germany) disappeared between 1990 and 2017.

Statistics of this sort are horrific enough to defy belief, yet they spring from credible scientific studies. The threat to the food web on which all human life depends is evident.

Wine stands at the apex of agriculture, in that the most expensive plots of agricultural land are constituted by the world’s top vineyards, and the wines made from them represent the world’s most sought-after agricultural products. The tiniest nuances in the quality or quantity of the wine-grape crop consequently receive clamorous media attention.

Wine is not a staple – but it matters enough to us for events like those of 2017 to hammer a warning bell: we must mitigate our effect on the environment. If you care, act.

This article first appeared in the March 2018 issue of Decanter magazine.

Source: http://www.decanter.com/premium/andrew-jefford-2017-vintage-383485/#Wduc85Wy6CbPI4hH.99

Global Wining explores vineyards accross the globe, looking for solutions to integrate climate change effects in the wine production process.

To do so, we’ll be visiting 13 countries, beginning in April 2018. After a month in wonderful South Africa, we’ll enjoy our longest flight to Hong Kong and then the Yunnan and Ningxia provinces.

Following China and its amazing landscapes we’ll head to Australia to discover the New South Wales region, birthplace of wine in the country. New Zealand is the next step. No doubt we’ll appreciate the diversity of its people, sheeps, and wine.

Beginning of August announces the start of our American trip. After a month in California, we’ll explore South America during three months: Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, where the Mendoza region will sure be a wonderful experience.

In December we’ll enjoy a quick come back in France, our native  country to spend some time with our families for Christmas. January and February 2019 will be dedicated to Europe, visiting Spain, Italy and the UK.

Follow the story of two lifetime friends, passionate about the wine industry and willing to explore the effect of climate change to ensure its sustainability  

Baptiste and Benjamin met at Kindergarden when they were hardly 5. Since then, they’ve been sharing an impressively unfailing friendship and more surprisingly family. Baptiste’s mother and Benjamin’s father got married 10 years ago and made these two young teenagers step-brothers ! That’s part of their incredible story and that’s maybe what makes their team so special.

Baptiste, the tall bearded one, is the engineer spirit of the team. His logical and pragmatic mind will sure be keys to our project. More than just a smart guy, Baptiste loves to meet and get to know people, he is the best at networking. It is impossible to escape from this charming Global Winer.

Benjamin, the larger one, has a business and management background. Unfortunately we have nothing to sell here but he will sure take a special delight writing about their stories and organizing their different steps. Even if wine is obviously a shared passion with Baptiste, Benjamin might be one step ahead regarding his wine drinking skills.

 

California winemakers and grape growers crushed just over four million tonnes of grapes in the 2017 harvest, with increases for Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir and declines for Chardonnay and Zinfandel, show new figures.

California’s most common wine grape varieties based on 2017 crush figures:

  • Chardonnay
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Zinfandel
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Gris
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Syrah
  • Petite Syrah
  • Riesling

Based on 2017 grape crush data, published by California’s department of food and agriculture and analysed by Ciatti Company in February 2018.

image: https://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2018/02/california-2017-harvest-size-chart.jpg

california 2017 harvest size


What we know from the latest California 2017 harvest figures

California harvested around four million tonnes of grapes in 2017, with the red wine harvest down by 1.6% versus 2016 and the white wine harvest up by 0.7% against the previous year, according to preliminary figures released by wine broker Ciatti and based on California Department of Food & Agriculture figures.

Reds came in at just over 2.24 million tonnes and white grapes at around 1.76 million.

Wildfires impact 

Devastating wildfires claimed more than 40 lives across North California in October 2017, despite 10,000 firefighters doing their best to contain blazes.

Wine was understandably not the main concern with lives and homes at risk, but there was nevertheless discussion within the wine sector around how fires might affect the 2017 vintage.

Some wineries sustained damage – Signorello, for example, being one of the worst hit – although a Sonoma State University survey of North California wineries found that 950 our of 1,025 wineries contacted had no structural damage.

While it is too early to properly assess quality impact, the latest 2017 grape crush report underlines the view that fires had a minimal overall impact on harvest quantity – even though some producers in high risk areas were evacuated from their estates for several days.

‘The fire was awful,’ said Glenn Proctor, global wine and grape broker with Ciatti, ‘but from an industry point of view we feel it did not have an effect on production numbers.

‘Luckily most of the crop was harvested by the time the fires occurred in the second week of October. We feel the severe heat we had in early September had the biggest effect on production,’ he told Decanter.com.

Cabernet Sauvignon is king

Cabernet Sauvignon had a record harvest in California in 2017, up 6% on 2016, said Ciatti.

Californian growers crushed almost 600,000 tonnes of the world’s most planted grape variety last year with premium coastal regions seeing the biggest increase.

Cabernet harvests ‘will only continue to grow’, said Ciatti.

In contrast, Chardonnay saw 2017 harvest quantity dented by heat spikes, particularly in Lodi, where the total crush fell by 18%.

Zinfandel saw one of its smallest harvests in recent years, down by nearly 13% to just over 364,000 tonnes.

Other growers included Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, which rose by 3.3% and 3.5% in 2017.

 

Author: Chris Mercer
Source: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/california-2017-harvest-size-grape-384517/#cEa4E47ulqiqLcAy.99

South Africa’s wine industry is praying for rain.

Thecatastrophic water shortage that is gripping Cape Town is now threatening to hurt the output of the region’s vineyards, which make South Africa the world’s seventh-largest producer of wine.

A lack of rainfall in the Winelands that dot the Western Cape of South Africa has entered its third seasonin a row, resulting in an undersupply of water for irrigation. The shortage is intensifying pressures on an industry that employs roughly 300,000 people and forms the backbone of the provincial economy. South Africa produces some of the world’s most popular wines but it struggles with profitability, on average, the local wine industry returns about 1% on investment,

Depending on the region, vines generally need between 250 and 600 millimeters (between 10 and 24 inches) of rain annually to survive. Though temperatures and precipitation vary by region, South Africa’s Winelands have, on the whole, received about half as much rain in the run-up to the annual harvest, which began in early January.

Dams that supply irrigation water to the vineyards stood, on average, 26% full in mid-January compared with about 42% full a year ago. The deficit triggers quotas that have cut the amount of water available at some vineyards by as much as 80%.

“We simply don’t have enough water to keep up with the irrigation requirements,” said Francois Viljoen, consultation service manager for VinPro, a nonprofit that represents South Africa’s wine industry. “The water stress is starting to show. The result is smaller berries, which affect your volumes. And you also have less juice in the berries.

Vineyards sit beneath hills at a farm near Stellenbosch, in the country’s wine producing region(Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The drought follows a season of damage to crops from frost and hail, which together with 7% fewer hectares tilled for wine grapes over the past decade looks to make this year’s harvest the smallest since 2005. Yields could fall between 16% and 20% from the estimated 1.4 million tons of grapes produced in 2017, based on projections.

Last year, South Africa’s vineyards produced an estimated 1.1 million liters of wine (including offshoots such as wine for brandy and grape juice) and generated revenues of nearly 22 billion rand in sales ($1.9 billion, excluding brandy) at home and abroad.

Thanks to the drought, the volume of wine sold this year could drop an estimated 9%, or about 90 million liters. And because vineyards require irrigation to regenerate for the next harvest, the 2019 crop may be threatened as well.

Sauternes producer Château Climens does not plan to make any ‘first wine’ from the 2017 vintage after seeing vineyards damaged by devastating frost that struck Bordeaux early in the growing season.

It was already feared that the severe frosts in Bordeaux in April 2017, particularly in the southern and Right Bank vineyard regions, could cause serious problems for some producers at harvest time.

Climens was badly affected by frost and said that a second budding in its vineyards did little to alleviate the situation.

In the end, the estate conducted a ‘grape hunt’ during harvest, but still only managed to garner 2.5 hectolitres per hectare – roughly one barrel per hectare and a record low.

‘This doesn’t give us enough ‘materia prima’ to make a honourable Climens, [and] we have thus naturally decided not to make any first wine in 2017,’ said Bérénice Lurton, proprietor of Château Climens, which is farmed biodynamically.

‘This will be the first time since 1993 [that we have not made a first wine],’ the estate said.

‘We can say that we have had the joy to be able to make very good to tremendous Climens for 23 years in a row.’

Château de Fieuzal in Pessac-Léognan announced in December 2017 that it would not be making any wine from the 2017 vintage, also due to frost.

Source: http://www.decanter.com/wine-news/no-chateau-climens-2017-frost-383345/#Kjc9S9T5E2DzlqTu.99

Credit: Climens (image: http://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2016/07/Climens-630×417.jpg)