Record drought and weather gone mad? Wine producers know something about it. One can think like Greta, that is, blaming human thermal emissions. Or – as some scientists, including Nobel laureates, suggest – it’s convenient to point the finger at increased solar activity. In the end, however, the result does not change: scorching summers with no rain. Hence: more alcoholic wines. And vines “stressed” by the great heat. What to do? Surely, it’s the case to come up with some remedies. This is also stated in the newspapers by oenologist Alessandro Ceretto, spokesman for the historic Alba winery.
The problem is worldwide: «In Argentina – Ceretto says – today a vineyard can only be planted if the land also has a well for dry periods». Fabio Marchisio confirms: in the summer of 2022 it would have been essential to be able to tap into reservoirs. «The trouble is that they don’t exist here: no one had so far considered this opportunity. They do exist in southern Italy: and in fact they prove invaluable, for relief irrigation». Would it be time to put the project in the pipeline? Small pools of water in the hills: providential reservoirs in case of great thirst.
If they used to browse the vineyard, Ceretto himself says, now they try to shade the bunches to protect the crop. Another solution, where possible: “move” the vines, preferring eastern exposure. The sun is the morning sun, the air remains cooler. In contrast, on the west-facing slopes, «the sun comes in the afternoon and it is very hot, from March to September». Heat, Ceretto recalls, also affects the evolution of reds destined for aging: wines that are “beautiful” right away, but then risk looking “tired”, within a few years.
An aspect, this, that the Marchisio Family accuses much less of. Also because biodynamic definitely attenuates the alcoholic perception. And above all because vinification in amphora guarantees an amazing freshness: the wine evolves without showing wrinkles, remaining young even when it is mature and ahead of its time. «In this respect, too», says Sergio Marchisio, «we are happy with our strategic choice: biodynamic and amphora shelter us from certain risks, as well as offering oenologically excellent products».
For his part, Alessandro Ceretto aptly summarizes some Piedmontese history: «When the warm weather allowed us to have more alcoholic wines, it was a boon for us: because we were coming from years of rain». In the vineyard, he says, year zero was 1996. «We realized that the climate had changed: before it was difficult to have wines with very high alcohol content». Now, however, the situation has reversed: it’s becoming difficult to contain them below 14 degrees. «The heat raises the sugar content, consequently the alcohol. And today’s wines are profoundly different, compared to those of 20 years ago».
Of course, there is no shortage of glass half-full: «The fact that it rains less is also a positive side: because it reduces the risk of mold». As long as then the rain doesn’t come torrentially, let alone hail. All true. But even here, the Marchisios defend themselves: «The “green” management of the vineyard is in itself a guarantee. The treatments provided by organic (and biodynamic) greatly harden the vines. Ours hardly even need copper and sulfur anymore: essential oils, orange and rosemary are enough». But it’s a fact: the climatic horizon remains uncertain. There really is something forward-looking to think about. Like water collections, ready to use, just a stone’s throw from the rows.