During the past week the issue of climate change seems especially pertinent. On her first day as UK Prime Minister, Theresa May controversially merged The Department for Energy and Climate Change with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. This act has been met with a certain amount of criticism from those who view it as Britain abandoning the fight against pollution and climate change. That as yet remains to be seen; however in other parts of the world they do not have that luxury. Climate change is having a drastic effect on their daily lives and will inevitably only get worse. It is not a distant phenomenon and direct, tangible action needs to happen now.
Shoot back to why I was in Australia in my granny jumper. Only ten percent of Australia is ‘habitable’ – for both plants and people! This already limits the amount and kinds of wines that can be produced in the country. Due to climate change, seventy percent of mainland Australia is expected to become less suitable for grapes by 2050. The most affected kinds of wines are Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. If Australian wine producers aren’t careful Barossa Shiraz could become a vinous relic.
Tasmania’s cooler shores provide an ideal short term solution. Due to its southerly latitude and the strong influence of the surrounding ocean, it is one of only a very few wine producing regions in Australia that enjoys a genuinely cool climate. This is important, because it allows grapes to ripen relatively slowly over a longer period than in warmer, more continental regions. This slower ripening, in turn, results in fruit that has more intense flavours, more acidity and better balance. There is no risk of unbalanced, alcoholic fruit bombs here! A further result of Tasmania’s cool climate is that it particularly suits some grape varieties and wine styles. The high acidity that can be cultivated in the grapes is ideal for classical sparkling wine, elegant Pinot Noir and beautifully aromatic varietals like Riesling. I still remember the time I managed to fool some friends with a bottle of bubbles which they thought was vintage Champagne but was actually a vintage Tazzy wine! And it was under £20. Double fist pump!