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Wine industry: a sector evolving in the face of climate change?

6 episodes
  • 1
    How to adapt vineyards to keep up with climate change
  • 2
    New vineyards: “England is mature for wine production”
  • 3
    The new flavours of global warming wine
  • 4
    Consumers are put off by “global warming wines”
  • 5
    Adapting champagne production practices to preserve quality
  • 6
    Hybrid vines: adapting winemaking to climate change
Épisode 1/6
Jean-Marc Touzard, INRAE research director and agricultural engineer
On March 18th, 2021
4 mins reading time

Jean-Marc Touzard
Jean-Marc Touzard
INRAE research director and agricultural engineer

Key takeaways

  • Before the pandemic, wine was France's second largest export, just behind aeronautics, with an annual turnover of up to €14bn.
  • The Laccave project, which brings together 24 laboratories across France, is studying the effects of global warming on French vineyards.
  • Researchers have noticed significant changes in the structure of wines: higher alcohol content, lower acidity and changes in aroma.
  • To counteract these changes, the solutions are diverse, ranging from new cultivation practices to the use of genetics, through chemical transformation of wines.
Épisode 2/6
Clément Boulle, Executive director of Polytechnique Insights
On March 18th, 2021
4 mins reading time

Cornelis Van Leeuwen
Cornelis (Kees) Van Leeuwen
Professor of viticulture at Bordeaux Sciences Agro and Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin
Alistair Nesbitt
Alistair Nesbitt
CEO of Vinescapes

Key takeaways

  • As a consequence of global warming, new regions – such as England, Belgium or the Netherlands – are becoming suitable for growing grapes.
  • As a result, the British may well become major wine producers. In 2018, Alistair Nesbitt and colleagues published a report identifying 33,700 hectares of land (equivalent to the Champagne region) in the UK suitable for growing grapes.
  • However, the climate, which used to be a fixed factor in winemaking, has become variable, and production is therefore not guaranteed from one year to the next.
  • Moreover, the consequences of climate change can be very different from one territory to another: reduction in yields, increase in water stress or, on the contrary, an increase in rainfall.
Épisode 3/6
Clément Boulle, Executive director of Polytechnique Insights
On March 18th, 2021
3 mins reading time

Alexandre Pons
Alexandre Pons
Œnologue for the Oeneo Group and Institut des sciences de la vigne et du vin
Philippe Darriet
Philippe Darriet
Professor of oenology and director of the Oenology Research Unit (associated with INRAE) at Institut des sciences de la Vigne et du Vin

Key takeaways

  • Climate change is changing the aromas of wines: hints of fresh fruit (strawberry, blackcurrant) of Bordeaux wines are now closer to dried fruits (like prunes).
  • These wines are less acidic, sweeter and contain more alcohol.  Experts Alexandre Pons and Philippe Darriet are also concerned about long term conservation of these wines.
  • But, correcting these aromatic changes requires a step in the opposite direction of the cultural practices that have been implemented over the past twenty years, which will take time.
  • The challenge is to increase yields, reduce leaves, increase bunches and to reduce plantation density.
Épisode 4/6
Clément Boulle, Executive director of Polytechnique Insights
On March 18th, 2021
4 mins reading time

Eric Giraud-Héraud
Eric Giraud-Héraud
INRAE research director and research lead at Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin

Key takeaways

  • In 2015, Éric Giraud-Héraud conducted a survey with ISVV on 250 Bordeaux wine consumers to determine their willingness to pay for "global warming wines".
  • The result was that these wines, which are higher in alcohol, were initially appreciated by consumers... who, however, quickly tired of them, and saw their willingness to pay collapse.
  • The risk is that the red wine market will collapse to the benefit of other more dynamic segments, such as rosé wines or organic wines.
Épisode 5/6
Clément Boulle, Executive director of Polytechnique Insights
On March 18th, 2021
3 mins reading time

Marc Brévot
Marc Brévot
Director of R&D at MHCS, the Champagne branch of the LVMH group
Vincent Malherbe
Vincent Malherbe
Head of Vineyard and Supply at LVMH

Key takeaways

  • LVMH and their subsidiary Moët & Chandon are also noticing the effects of climate change on the structure of their champagnes, whose alcohol content is also increasing.
  • To counteract this trend, they have set up research units to conduct experiments to adapt the production of their champagnes (vacuum cooling boxes, image analysis by artificial intelligence to characterise the state of the grapes, etc.).
  • For them, the specifications of the INAO [the regulatory body for protected geographical indications] are too strict and should be made more flexible to allow winegrowers to conduct experiments on their vines without risking downgrading.
Épisode 6/6
Agnès Vernet, Science journalist
On March 18th, 2021
3 mins reading time

Eric Duchêne
Éric Duchêne
Research engineer at the INRAE centre in Colmar

Key takeaways

  • Les vignes sont en quelque sorte des « plantes doubles », constituées à la fois d’un greffon (la partie aérienne de la plante, dont le patrimoine génétique s’exprime à travers les fruits et les feuilles) et d’un porte-greffe (la partie souterraine dont les gènes régissent le système racinaire).
  • Cette dualité est à la fois une aubaine pour les biologistes, en ce qu’elle leur permet de tester diverses associations hybrides de greffon et de porte-greffes. La génétique leur permet de rechercher les marqueurs moléculaires associés aux caractéristiques désirées.
  • Contrairement aux OGM, l’hybridation demande beaucoup de temps : dix à quinze ans peuvent être nécessaires pour créer une nouvelle variété de vigne grâce à la génétique.

Contributors

Jean-Marc Touzard
Jean-Marc Touzard
INRAE research director and agricultural engineer

Doctor of Economic Sciences, Jean-Marc Touzard studies innovation processes and transitions in agriculture and agri-food, in the face of the challenges of food security and climate change. He is also director of the "Innovation" Joint Research Unit in Montpellier (INRAE, Institut Agro, CIRAD). With his colleague Nathalie Ollat, he has been coordinating the LACCAVE programme on the adaptation of French vineyards to climate change since 2012.

Clément Boulle
Clément Boulle
Executive director of Polytechnique Insights

Clément Boulle is a journalist and entrepreneur. A graduate of École supérieure de journalisme (ESJ) in Lille, he holds an executive MBA from INSEAD. Before joining Polytechnique Insights, he spent six years developing digital marketing company Local Media, an online advertising agency for local advertisers, which he then sold. Early on in his career, he was a journalist and editor-in-chief in the La Dépêche du Midi media group. He also worked for the French Red Cross as a consultant, helping design and develop a social innovation incubator.

Agnès Vernet
Agnès Vernet
Science journalist

After her initial studies in molecular biology, Agnès Vernet trained as a science journalist at ESJ-Lille. For the past 14 years, she has been writing for various media, scientific magazines, professional titles and general press, in France and Switzerland. Since 1st February 2021, she is the elected President of the French association of science journalists (AJSPI).