Burgundy grape varieties put to the climate change test

Wednesday March 03 2021 by Vitisphere

 The varietal range can be a lever for adjusting to climate change. The varietal range can be a lever for adjusting to climate change. - Photo credit : BIVB

Should Burgundy change grape varieties to survive climate change? This challenging question was raised during the Vinosphere event hosted online by the BIVB on 25 February. “The first question we can ask ourselves is how to preserve Chardonnay and Pinot noir as long as possible”, said Laurent Audeguin, head of plant material at the French Vine & Wine Institute, by way of an introduction. Winegrowers can try and take advantage of the varieties’ natural diversity through clonal selection. “There are 47 Pinot noir clones and 40 Chardonnay clones. In old vineyards that have been grubbed up, some individual vines can also offer later ripening, accumulate less sugar and retain more acidity”. Winegrowers can also plant other rootstocks. “There are 31 rootstocks in the official catalogue”, added Audeguin. The long-overlooked Rupestris du Lot is one such example, provided limestone is not a barrier.

Jean-Michel Boursiquot, professor emeritus of ampelography at the Agro Institute in Montpellier, also invited growers to capitalise on the opportunity recently offered by INAO to plant varieties of interest for adaptation purposes. “This is an opportunity to rediscover grape varieties that are native to the region but have been forgotten, such as Roublot, a descendant of Pinot, or Tressot. Another example that comes to mind is Enfariné noir, which has just been registered, or Gascon, which, contrary to what its name suggests, comes from Yonne”. Sugar accumulation in all these varieties is low and they retain good acidity.

The ampelographer also believes that Savagnin would be suited to Burgundy, as would Syrah. For those who wish to test foreign grape varieties, he recommends Assyrtiko, “whose profile is comparable to Chardonnay with better acidity retention”, and Xinomavro, also from Greece. “Italy’s Nebbiolo could also be a good complementary variety to Pinot”, claimed Boursiquot.

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