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2022 Growing Season – What is the Optimum temperature?

We’ll talk about the future of California Bordeaux grape wines or your grape. But first, here’s my take: the climate news about California is all around us, but there is good news hidden within it. Spacial distribution of data reveals the answer. Perhaps yields are dropping, and taste quality is increasing for Bordeaux grapes. In this case, Enologix Quality Management System version 7 allows the winemaker to track their growers. But, there is something more significant afoot. California luxury wine companies that grow their grapes are going to have an advantage with the climate news.

As a refresher, and – in the manner of tradition – Napa mirrors Bordeaux and how? Napa growers planted six red grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carmenere, and Petit Verdot – legislated by the Bordelais regulatory agencies. Each of these grapes has a different temperature.

Here’s a hypothetical. The climate news is that temperature has changed, and–due to the climate–Napa Carneros does not mirror Burgundy at all.

The prospect of Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional replacing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Merlot, is disruptive to California wine marketers. Do Californians say a Touriga Nacional won’t sell? It might well be right. What’s important is not whether a grape won’t sell, but whether Chardonnay or Merlot is a good grape for Oakville winegrowers. Let me agree with you–Touriga Nacional has drawbacks.

We face a trigger we cannot control, and–it’s under genetic control–it’s the optimum temperatures for international luxury grapes are between 15.5 to 17.5º C—plus or minus a half degree. Make it a full degree if you say so.

Napa Valley is far too hot by the standard the Napa-based marketers used to justify Chardonnay.

It’s time to stop grading Napa on a curve and–in the manner of climatologists–to start asking what Napa would look like if we changed the farming or uninstalled Merlot, and what if Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional were perfect. It is not a question whether another variety might replace a grape but whether a grape might have outlived its usefulness to support luxury prices.

It’s hugely telling — and even a bit frightening — to learn about the cabernet Optimum Temperature (OT). Consider one standard, Pauillac’s growing season temperature is 17.1ºC in one reference period. France has made a significant change to its AOC rules to deal with the climate news. Regulators have approved four (4) new grapes for Grand Vins of Bordeaux — Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan, and Touriga Nacional.

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